ON SUNDAY, state shadow emergency services minister Brad Battin visited the area on his tour of Victoria along with member for Murray Plains Peter Walsh.
The visits to Echuca Fire Brigade and Rochester SES and CFA were a part of the Liberals’ and Nationals’ consultation with volunteers about the Fire Services Reform, a hot topic in state government.
The Liberals and Nationals are pushing for a royal commission into Victoria’s fire services.
The royal commission, expected to cost taxpayers $10 million, would be completed within a year of the opposition being elected at the next state poll.
According to the draft terms of reference, obtained by Campaspe News, the royal commission will inquire and report on 11 different areas, including the resignations or dismissals of leading members of the CFA and MFB.
It will also look into the dismissal of former Emergency Services Minister Jane Garrett.
Other areas to be covered include bullying, operational interference, consultation with volunteers and the effect of the current enterprise bargaining agreement.
The consultation in Rochester was attended by members of the SES and CFA, and the morale of the agencies was raised as the biggest issue.
Some ideas included volunteers being on an interview panel for a new operations officer in their catchment and a single fire service including the MFB.
The members also spoke about the issues they had, which included there being no consultation with volunteers from career staff.
Mr Battin has visited various areas across the west of the state, where the key messages he received were about training of volunteer firefighters, the age of some trucks and access to turn-out gear.
The visit to the SES facility in Rochester allowed Mr Battin to inspect their new storm truck.
The truck was funded through the Volunteer Emergency Services Equipment Program grant, which is an ongoing program funded by the Victorian government.
It gives local emergency service volunteer groups access to grants for operational equipment, vehicles, trucks, tankers, watercraft, trailers and minor facility improvements.
The grant for the storm truck covered two thirds of the total cost, with the SES unit funding the balance with funds received from local donations.
Upgrading vehicles is always a priority to ensure the vehicles available for response are fit for purpose.
The new storm truck replaces what was a four-wheel drive and trailer.