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Photo: CFA

Union fire ad angst

Union fire ad angst

Photo: CFA

Volunteer firefighters seek withdrawal of divisive union advertisement

Volunteer fire fighters in Gippsland have voiced their frustrations at a new ad campaign by the United Firefighters Union (UFU) titled 'professional firefighters - ready for anything'.

The campaign has drawn criticism from people believing it suggests the CFA and volunteer fire fighters are less qualified and equipped to protect their communities.

Erica and District Fire Brigade Secretary Russell Wright said "the campaign disregards the efforts and value of the region's volunteer fire fighters."

"It undervalues the contribution of years of hard work that volunteers put in to protect Victoria and its communities.

"The state government needs to step up and remind Victorians that the CFA is a world class organisation that has been delivering good service for decades and, despite what the union infers, its members are highly trained and ready for the task at hand.

"The government needs to condemn the campaign and vocalise support for volunteers," Mr Wright said.

Member for Eastern Victoria Region, Melina Bath, is joining calls for the government to denounce a "disrespectful scare campaign against Gippsland’s volunteer firefighters".

Ms Bath raised the issue in state parliament on behalf of Gippsland CFA volunteers, who she said are incensed by the union-funded advertising campaign that attacks the integrity of local volunteers.

Below: the disappointment is not with FRV but with the UFU

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“Local CFA volunteers contacted me dismayed by the UFU management scare campaign that pits paid Fire Rescue Victoria (FRV) firefighters against Country Fire Authority (CFA) volunteers by implying volunteers provide a second-class service to our communities,” Ms Bath said.

Disappointment is NOT directed at Fire Rescue Victoria and its paid staff, but at the union that is behind the campaign, United Firefighters Union.

“Volunteers are at pains to highlight the collegiate working relationship between FRV firefighters and volunteers at the local level,” Ms Bath said.

“In an offensive slight directed at our volunteers, the insinuation of the UFU’s campaign is that regional communities will be at risk if they are not served by FRV “professionals”.

“All firefighters, paid or volunteer are highly trained and capable of protecting people and property including attending house fires, car accidents, medical emergencies or a toxic spills and fires.”

Ms Bath said CFA volunteers feel strongly that the state government, particularly the Premier and Minister for Emergency Services, Jaclyn Symes should have come out and denounced the UFU’s campaign and back volunteer firefighters.

“Instead all Minister Symes said in state parliament was, 'this is not the way I would choose to communicate.'

"It was incredibly disappointing," Ms Bath said.

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