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Volunteer Reaction to EBA 2010

Volunteers Reaction

In recent months, we have been flooded with volunteers’ emails and letters. Below is a small sample. Typical subjects include CFA’s recent union deal, budget cuts and the funding of 342 additional paid firefighters while volunteers face rationing of training and equipment.

If you would like to add your comment, please use the Submit Comment/Feedback button above. Names are always removed to protect your privacy.

The response to the Age re: the Welfare Fund (see Letter to the Editor – VFBV Welfare Fund on VFBV’s Media Releases page) was very well done. Concise, accurate and delivered a positive tone regarding this issue. The author should be congratulated unlike the Age employees responsible for the original article which was an appalling example of journalism. As a long time Age reader I am dismayed at the editorial standards that allow such a poor standard of reporting space on the pages of a once respected broadsheet.
Volunteer, District 23

One question I would like a answer to is we have four members from vfbv on the board,I beleive that the Eba was signed off by all board members.Why did OUR reps from VFBV sign the EBA with out speaking to the vols first. Also I have read on connect that their are still ten points the VFVB would like to know about why cant OUR board members get us a copy of these.I will be at the special meeting the VFBV has called and I will ask this question.
Volunteer, District 13

The way in which volunteers have been taken for granted by CFA and others is deplorable. How often do we here "i'm all right, if something happens a red truck will just turn up". There seems to be a ground swell asking for a rally to show our discontent. A rally can be very dangerous if all volunteers are not committed. I believe the VFBV on the volunteers behalf, should go down the path of an enterprise agreement for volunteers only. This EB would be between CFA and volunteers and could be solely based on conditions. The EB could guarantee levels of funding for training, equipment etc over the life of the agreement which would give volunteers some certainty. So VFBV, if an EB is possible on conditions only, please explore this option.
Volunteer, District 9

Having read all the current comments, I can only agree, IT IS TIME TO TAKE AFFIRMATIVE ACTION!! Until recently I thought I was one of a few who has seen the writing on the wall. Now it seems we are all in agreement. Let's stop 'pussy footing' around and agree at the rally to; Refuse to fill or phone in FIRS reports, DO NOT book 'In Station' after a job (a tactic used by MFB UFU members in the 1990's). Inundate District HQ's with trivial requests as well as O.H.& S. requests, and any other administrative trivial matters. We can still protect our communities and communicate with each other via radio / mobile phone etc. That's why we have Groups. Let's use the UFU's tactics, it works for them. Without we VOLUNTEERS CFA is NOTHING. 
Volunteer, District 14

My question and more so suggestion does not relate to the usual Vol/career staff discussion but is more to do with the way volunteer elections are held. How many brigades members out there disagree with the fact that non operational members have the ability to vote on operational roles. A large proportion of our brigade are part of the running team and play no part in the day to day operation of the brigade, and not one of them attends fire training or calls. So why is it then that they can vote on Lt's that control the members at fires??? With the exception of one of our brigades officers none of the others are respected, nor are they wanted in those positions, but as the non operational members have the power of the vote, they get in. This is certainly not something that is just an issue in my brigade, from speaking to other vols it’s an issue state wide.. once this is sorted we may have people in control of brigades that have the willingness to get in peoples faces and say enough is enough.. and get the treatment we deserve, instead of the "Yes Men" that so many brigades seem to be controlled by... I am certainly one of many that has had enough and is very close to resigning from the CFA after nearly 20 years... 
Volunteer, District 2

I'm amazed at the length of things that happen under the table in CFA looking after the career staff who make up a pittance of the CFA organisation. Our brigade has voted to not put up with this and fight. I encouige all brigades, districts or regons to become aware and active in rasing awairness of the conditions that the EBA will impose on Volinteers. 
Volunteer, District 14

If I may offer a suggestion :
Draft up a sample letter provide that sample letter to every brigade Captain and if possible every CFA firefighter, with a list of the names and addresses of every State politician upper and Lower House and request the brigade members to write/copy and send the letter to their two local politicians (upper and lower house) the letter should demand that they each make representation on our behalf to change the obnoxious clauses (Or Make CFA keep their word to the volunteer organisation). The threat being that if they do not do so within a week or so then we will be asking our brigade members to vote at the State Election on 27 Nov against the encumbent upper and lower house members.

Given the election is only a few weeks away you should move quickly but it can be done.

Immediately after tghe election a similar campaign at the federal level should be commencesd as well as targetting newly elected State MPs . One letter from the president will not win the day 1,000 letters from CFA voters all over the state will!
Volunteer, District 15

As a Volunteer, I'm really interested to see everyone banging on about the Volunteer Charter and how it should become law. Well before we go down this road perhaps we should get our own yard in order one of the principles of the charter for Volunteers to do is to treat CFA employees with a mutual, respectful and active partnership. Well given some of the comments I have seen written by fellow Volunteer members one inparticular referring to career firefighters as cancers is not going to help us.

Is our fight with individual or all the career firefighters or is it with CFA. I think the VFBV Executive needs to lift their game and ensure that we do not get in to a them and us battle with the career firefighters otherwise guess who is going to suffer. The community, thats who.

We need to all remember why we joined the CFA, it was for the community.

I am a very disallusioned volunteer especially when I see personal attacks agains fellow firefighters.
Volunteer, District 22

It appears easy for the party in opposition to make wide-ranging promises which are easily cast aside once that party gains power. Unfortunately as volunteers and voters we have become immune to promises made due to a road that has become littered with many shattered promises made in the heat of the moment driven by the possibility of gaining votes and therefore, power.

With a volunteer base numbering approx 58,000 potential voters, then add partners, family, friends of all volunteers, we could become a very powerful political force which would command respect from those in government.

So the question begs asking - why don't we! Most volunteers join purely to be able to help out their immediate and all communities in times of emergency. Becomming a CFA volunteer is not a politically driven decision - this is the furthest thing on our minds.

It is therefore disheartening to see so many disillusioned volunteers who believe that their basic volunteer needs are now being discarded along that road with the shattered promises without so much as the opportunity to make comment or have meaningful input.

So, why should we believe the opposition when they promise support for the volunteers by way of law and finance - is this all another charade to use volunteers as pawns in their power play?

As for our Association - where are you? Everyone easily recognises the UFU leader - would we so easily recognise our Association leader?

Yes, we will still continue to attend to emergencies, fundraise within our own communities for much needed equipment and 'make do' in relation to communications/training/protective clothing.

Volunteer, District 8

The way in which volunteers have been taken for granted by CFA and others is deplorable. How often do we here "I'm all right, if something happens a red truck will just turn up".
There seems to be a ground swell asking for a rally to show our discontent. A rally can be very dangerous if all volunteers are not committed.
I believe the VFBV on the volunteers behalf, should go down the path of an enterprise agreement for volunteers only. This EB would be between CFA and volunteers and could be solely based on conditions. The EB could guarantee levels of funding for training, equipment etc over the life of the agreement which would give volunteers some certainty.
So VFBV, if an EB is possible on conditions only, please explore this option.
Volunteer, District 9

Why have the Volunteers not had a rally.? It is time to stand up for ourselves and what we believe in and stop rolling over to the UFU & CFA.
Volunteer, District 14

I get the feeling this is really starting to get to a lot of people … time to start taking our own action I reckon!!

When the regions feel pressure from us it will push to HQ. Try some UFU tactics I reckon, no fire reports, no protected premises sheets, call the RDO to pick up dirty hose … anything that does not actually affect service to the community should be considered in my opinion.
Volunteer, District 7

I would like to thank the VFBV for working so hard against these incompetents who are paid CFA personnel and executive. We appreciate you correcting the words they print and we know they are wrong!!! WE are very grateful for standing up for the volunteers and we all know without them Victoria would BURN!!
Volunteer, Region 24

The EBA is the biggest joke around, you guys really need to read some of the clauses in it, if this was private industry we would be out of business.
Volunteer, District 8

What can I as a volunteer do about it? Who do I need to hassle?
Volunteer, District 14

Once the CFA was driven by the volunteers with support. Now we have a totally autocratic approach with the volunteers becoming more and more disenchanted. Perhaps Mr Brumby might like to consider the option of employing a whole lot more paid firefighters or looking after something that the taxpayers currently get for free.

There is an election coming up......make the volunteers voice heard.
Volunteer, District 23

We need to have our say VFBV arrange a rally asap. The CFA has stations falling down around the vols but we can pay STAFF 1 Hours pay to pick up a phone for overtime it’s ****ed. HELP US VFBV
Volunteer, District 8

Why is it that OH&S only applies to staff members , the Pumper Tanker that was due to arrive at my station was left to rust away at the DMO's according to my OO , so to overcome this problem by stelth it was delivered to the station next door...no discussion with my brigades BMT , of course the rumour file was well ahead of the vehicle and now all sorts of backside covering is taking place to try and assure disgruntled members.....UFU members state that the VDC had not signed off on the locker configeration...so it's now an OH&S issue.....no Pumper Tankers in Intergrated Brigades.....so members outside these arrangements can use the vehicle....Please Explain?

Bad enough the OO tried to pull the wool over our eyes , but what use is the Volunteer Charter or an other agreement if the UFU can become the umpire on all matters , move away from agreements and Brigade planning to flex there muscle...what are we suposed to be classed as second class in our own Station......time to fight for our rights , if The Volunteer Charter is the document that we look to for guidance ,it needs to be empowered and embraced by the people that signed it......a peice of paper is just that unless it has some worth . I am yet to be convinced that it is more that just chest thumping.
Website Comment

Ladies and Gents Its time for all Volunteers to take a leaf out of the UFU's book and stand together and tell the CFA and the UFU and its members that we are not going to be treated like this, we are not going to put up with second class conditions and training, The next Thing before we know it it will be total segregation Vols to the Back staff to the front "No Vols Here" What does all this sound like ?

I urge every volunteer member to rally against the CFA and THe UFU I ask that the VFBV arranges a rally so that we can all tell the CFA the UFU and the State Govt That we are not going to sit by and let all our rights be washed down the toilet

Everyone who reads this should request the the VFBV arranges a rally asap.
Volunteer, District Withheld

Volunteer disrespect.

Enough is enough! - the real issue here is not being unfairly disadvantaged because we choose to volunteer. Volunteers are proud of what we do and are willing to contribute but NOT at the expense of our rights and dignity. As a volunteer I do not want to dictate staff wages and conditions, I hope all staff get a proper wage and the best conditions they can - they deserve this and better and I don't care if they are members of the UFU, this is not the issue, it is only clouding the truth - The issue is that the Volunteer charter has been ignored by Government and CFA and volunteers rights have been eroded to being "unincluded third parties". (sic Mick Burke CFA CEO).

We are well under resourced, have insufficient tools to do the job and are not supported in many cases. We are not consulted on things which have a direct impact on us untill after the event, if at all, and even then it is a condescending and patronisingly feeble attempt to get back in our favour. Come on Government and CFA, include us in matters which impact on us before you write policy, employ more firefighters or spend money. The Bushfire Royal Commission missed one key element - it made no recommendations to improve the volunteer capacity or spirit. It recognised the importance of volunteers but took us for granted assuming we would always be around - again the indemic ignorance of volunteers even at the BRC level. 
A simple ask, Please put something in place by including us in the discussions to ensure our rights are protected and enforced and then you will see the numbers of volunteers grow and you won't need as many career people to fill the gap created by discregard, complacency and disrespect.
Volunteer, District 4

The CFA needs to man up if all the volunteers walk out then what would thay do . Its all about the STAFF STAFF and UFU what about the vols stand up for what is right CFA.
Volunteer, District 8

Might i just say maybe the association has seemed to be just looking after running for to long and now it seems too late?The Union is strong and in front - it may be time for strong action
Volunteer, District 7

VFBV you need to stop sitting on the fence writing comments in face book and having Vols write comments in the Weekly Times ect. Arrange a rally NOW

We cant sit by any longer, I know of a brigade that had 50 Vols its now down to under 30 and the OIC (staff) is not allowing them to recruit GET OFF THE BLOODY FENCE LETS RALLY NOW.
Volunteer, District 14

Now is the time for all Volunteers to actively seek response from all candidates for the up coming state elections. and go with the candidate that will look after volunteers interests, and not their union mates.
Volunteer for 45 years, District 2

Great ! The poor Ambos get 100 staff who actually work full time and all night, but the CFA gets another 342 who sleep through the night !
Volunteer, District 8

A wise old fire fighter once said to me after returning home from a central council meeting at fiskville, the c.f.a is buggered - its board is rotting from the core out, i just laughed at him. He told me this 10 years ago, if he was alive today he would be laughing at me.
Volunteer, District 4

[Re the comment on SES taking the influx of disenchanted CFA volunteers]...The SES vols are even worse off - their board is stacked with Labor Party appointees with just ONE vol, and their association isn't represented at all.

I hope everyone here is prepared to step up and support VFBV - how many brigades don't even have a rep?
Volunteer, District 14

The CFA is letting all Volunteers down, with the way they have signed our rights away. We as Volunteers need to take action now. We all should write to our local member and ask what they are going to do for us after the next election if elected. We should also send Brumby a message that we are p\'d off and vote him out. 60000 votes against his party would send a clear message that he has let the volunteers down and we are not going to accept it.

We cant be the same as the UFU and take strike action or put bans in place because we all think to much of the communities where we live, if the shoe was on the other foot none of the brothers would hesitate to take action and put bans in place I urge all volunteers to make a stand.
Volunteer, District 14

I am a concerned volunteer at a urban intrigrated station. We have been told that the Pumper Tankers that were to be delivered to Intrigrated stations will not be coming due to the UFU and the pressure their members have put on the CFA. They say its because of OH&S issues, I know for a fact its because the CFA tried to take a stand against the UFU early on and build the trucks to suit all.

What gives the UFU the right to say the truck is no good for our members however give it to the Volunteer station down the road they will love it. IF there is OH&S concerns, the CFA and the UFU have a duty of care to all to explain the faults / issues and rectify said issues and then seed the units into the brigades that they were meant to go to.The ops teams at all these brigades did risk assessments and decided that the pumper tankers were the vehicles to suit their needs.

The CFA needs to take a stand against the UFU and fix the OH&S issues if that is the case or if there is no OH&S issues put the units into service at the brigades. Let them take action and lets get the media involved and show them that the UFU has only one concern its members and conditions not the COMMUNITY. The UFU members mostly dont live in the area where they work as such the care factor is low. Its time that the VFBV and the volunteers said enough is enough. CFA take control and put the UFU on notice that we are not going to stand for it any longer Let the staff go on strike. I would take time of work as would many other Vols to keep my community safe.
Volunteer, District 14

I'm disgusted at the way the EBA has been accepted. The CFA was a magnificent organisation of selfless, honourable people but from what I've seen over the last 5 years, the whole structure has begun to implode and will soon be unrecognisable. Brigade Captain, District 8

The CFA Board has seriously let the volunteers down. Lately it seems CFA and the government have been on a mission to put hurdles in the volunteers' way. CFA volunteers are sick of the hollow pats on the back from CFA/government after each major event. Volunteer, District 10

The current attitude of CFA and the Government makes a mockery of the Volunteer Charter. The introduction of the new Pumper Tanker into Integrated Brigades is being controlled by the UFU, CFA appears to be unable to make decisions based on operational needs rather than union/political influence. Volunteers in some Integrated Brigades are being treated like second class citizens and can't doing anything unless the staff agree to it whilst the staff appear to be able to do what they want and get what they want. Is it time we marched on Parliament House and handed back to the Government our copies of the Volunteer Charter? We need to do something sooner rather later.
Volunteer, District 14

Firstly I would like to say that this is real issue that must be dealt with a campaign that the union and the State Government will sit-up and take notice of. I would like to see the VFBV take the bull by the horns and take this issue all the way to the State Government, it was only last year that we saw again volunteers protecting people and those same volunteers need the training to help them protect themselves and the community that we live in today. I would like to say that I am a union member of the TWU and the UFU must protect their members but this goes against the Volunteer charter that the State Government signed.
Volunteer, District 14

Unfortunately the dogmatic UFU behind the scenes just sees Volunteers as "scabs" taking legitimate fire fighting work from career comrades, brothers and union members. Union members are OO, OM now under one EA, providing a closed career path only to entrenched union members influenced by the UFU doctrine, and managed via intense personal pressure from union officials. As you will often hear sorry we cannot do anything about it, since it is "the law" To break ranks you are now turning your back on ALL other union comrades in all issues affecting any aspect of the CFA. There is "strength in unity" but there is all so subservient pressure that can be used to unduly influence any decisions, hence the union officials hold a power position, in regards to any CFA decision. The prime goal of the union is to remove "scabs" and increase pay and conditions to members at any cost, especially when this goal can be veiled behind any other hidden agenda, that achieves the same outcome. The union is patient in in pursuit of power and influence, preferring stealth and legal trickery to slowly advance it's primary agenda. The volunteer charter is not "the law" and like the vital valued Victorian campaign, just a lip service pat on the back, similar to "yes you have been a good child, now go and play", leaving the decisions to the professionals. What ever happened to one CFA? It seemed the union didn't like that approach, the VFBV should be lobbying for the ONE CFA policy, with the actual integration of both volunteer and career staff, same training, same rank, same qualifications..... Volunteer, District Withheld

Here we see yet another under-handed dealing by the Government without consultation. Perhaps its just another sweetheart deal with a labour party supporter prior to the election. I hope the SES can handle the influx of volunteers as those within the CFA see their voice continually not being heard and even more money thrown at the higher levels of the bureaucracy, whilst the volunteers can\'t even get wet weather gear. The 60,000 volunteers in the CFA need to think long and hard about the forthcoming election. Ask your local candidates where they stand on volunteer support and the future funding of the CFA at volunteer level. Once the CFA was driven by the volunteers with support. Now we have a totally autocratic approach with the volunteers becoming more and more disenchanted. Perhaps Mr.Brumby might like to consider the option of employing a whole lot more paid firefighters or looking after something that the taxpayers currently get for free. There is an election coming up......make the volunteers voice heard. Volunteer, District 23

It appears that it is about time that a rally is organised... When the UFU wants their way or wants to get there point across to the CFA, Government & the Community, they stage a rally! Why have the Volunteers not had a rally? It is time to stand up for ourselves and what we believe in and stop rolling over to the UFU & CFA. Many people I talk to believe that the UFU is also their for the Volunteers and that Volunteers are well looked after. We all know that this is not the case and maybe it's time that we did something about. I like many others are proud to be a Volunteer Firefighter, however over the past couple of years I have started to lose my dedication and respect for the CFA, and if it continues I will join the list of many others who are going to leave. VFBV does a great job working with the Volunteers. But maybe its time they started to get out to the stations more often and also start applying some Union like tactics before it is too late.
Volunteer, District 14

Some small stations don't even have a bloody dunny or for that matter water! 
Website Comment

Without the volunteers the CFA is GONE!!! Start listening CFA . I strongly suggest the CFA involve the Volunteers & learn from all those experienced fire-fighters.Listen CFA - or you will have even less Volunteers support this season. We are sick of "change for change sake" stuff - Many of we older & experienced volunteers do not have the respect of the current CFA so how on earth are the newer volunteers going to accept the CFA's rotten attitude other than by walking out & leaving the permanent staff to keep on stuffing up what WAS a mighty organisation of times by. Wake up Mr. Brumby - you are not listening either. You are all talk & won't listen to we Volunteers either. The State of Victoria is at an all-time low in Volunteer morale & both the CFA & Government need to take a look at their own attitude to Volunteers & embrace these supportive people who give of their time so freely. Wake up & listen - for goodness sake!!!
Website Comment

You only have to look at the stuff up with the new structral turnout gear. We are being treated as a joke at CFA 
Website Comment

Volunteers give up their evening and or days to train to better serve the community. They leave their families and friends to go to emergencies in their time. We need to give them more support.
Website Comment

I think [CFA] are serious and they believe they know what is best. It is understanding that we mean consult before deciding, they seem to be prepared to consult after the decision is taken. 
Website Comment

In my time I have found CFA uses the charter after an incident to cover their positions. 
Website Comment

I feel that CFA is more and more being controlled by the UFU. As a member of an integrated Brigade it appears the staff get what ever they want but no so the volunteers. The right of veto held by the UFU is very strong. Our Brigade has had a new Pumper/Tanker allocated (it is waiting at the DMO's) but it will not come to the Brigade until (if ever) the UFU gives it's approval and then they are trying to get Heavy Tankers allocated to all Integrated stations whether they need them or not. 
Website Comment

It is clear from the manner and methods used regarding the Region boundary changes that the Board and the some parts of CFA don't give a toss about the vols. They only care about keeping in the good books with a shoddy government. Get rid of them all and hopefully a new Board will consult with the vols before commiting to important decisions. Ignoring the VFBV and the Vols concerns regarding the EB is just another example of their ignorance. When will it stop? 
Website Comment

The CFA Board including the VFBV representatives on the board should be ashamed of the lack of consultation over the Boundary Alignment issue. No consultation was attempted until the CEO let the cat out of the bag with his blog. Absolutely shameful! They should hane their heads in shame.
Website Comment

Suggest CFA executive and others in the CFA policy decision structure, be given a test to assess their knowledge of the Charter. Results to be published. Website Comment

The Volunteer Charter obligations were not met from CFA in regards towards the initial consultation on Boundary Alignment. What consultation? when our CFA CEO blogged on CFA Connect!! 
Website Comment

As an active Operational firefighter, I missed out on First Aid training due to lack of spaces. On WIN TV tonight, this issue was raised, stating that funding was needed to cover wages for the extra career firefighters being employed. This is alarming if our training is being sacrificed to meet union demands. I strongly support the claim made on the TV programme tonight, that all Operational volunteers should receive First Aid training. Personally, I would like to do First Aid training. 
Volunteer, District 12

I would also take issue with the statement that pay and working conditions of paid firefighters is purely a matter between employer and employees. I believe all taxpayers, including volunteers, have the right to know where our tax dollars are going. The community needs to fully understand the cost of employing extra firefighters is not just in the generous pay and conditions but the cost of station modifications for sleeping quarters etc. 
Volunteer, District 7

We're being shafted. 
Volunteer, District 8

Read 15500 times Last modified on Friday, 01 March 2013 11:27
CFA Volunteers are the unpaid professionals of our Emergency Services. VFBV is their united voice, and speaks on behalf of Victoria's 60,000 CFA Volunteers.


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