Brigades face decline in volunteer firefighter numbers

Operational firefighter numbers have slumped in Colac and district, with almost 250 fewer than this time seven years ago as rural populations decline.

Operational firefighter numbers have slumped in Colac and district, with almost 250 fewer than this time seven years ago as rural populations decline.

But Country Fire Authority south-west region volunteer sustainability team’s Greg Coombes said that lower volunteer numbers did not compromise the ability of the CFA to respond to emergencies.

He said that contingencies such as the use of firefighting aircraft and joint brigade operation allowed the CFA to continue protecting lives and property normally.

“Elingamite-Glenfyne brigade, they had some viability issues where people weren’t available to turn the truck out,” Mr Coombes said.

“They’ve had a whole series of brigade and community meetings and the outcome of those meetings was that there were no brigade members, nor were there any community members that could really keep the brigade operating how it needed to.

“What’s happened in that space is, for the interim, the brigade still exists, so it hasn’t shut down, but the truck is being housed at Cobden fire station, and it’s turned out from Cobden fire station with a mix of volunteers.”

Mr Coombes said that a long-term trend of rural population decline had led to a decrease in volunteer numbers in rural brigades.

Mr Coombes said that the region’s volunteer sustainability team’s focus was on keeping Colac and district volunteer brigades operating into the future, with rural population decline impacting service delivery.

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