By Cam Lucadou-Wells
Alarms at Narre Warren North CFA brigade have been running hot.
Since 2011, emergency call outs have nearly doubled from 164 calls a year to 299 mainly due to urban growth, the brigade’s captain Mark Dobrich says.
During a recent visit by Deputy Premier James Merlino, Mr Dobrich pitched the case for more firefighting appliances and car parking at the fully volunteer 70-year-plus brigade.
Mr Merlino – also Emergency Services Minister – fielded questions about the protracted negotiations over the CFA’s structure and its impact on the brigade’s volunteers.
Mr Dobrich talked up the value of volunteer firefighters to see risks, problems and solutions that professional “career firefighters” cannot.
“Volunteers are also well trained and disciplined, but the volunteer provides something else -diversity.
“In the volunteer ranks of any CFA brigade, you not only have highly skilled, experienced and dedicated firefighters but you also have builders, doctors, plumbers, electricians, nurses, engineers, IT specialists.
“It is this diversity of skill, knowledge and experience that is the true strength of the volunteer brigade and of the organisation that is CFA.”
The brigade’s two trucks – a tanker and a pumper – were adequate for now, but were under increasing demand from outer suburbia, Mr Dobrich said.
“This demand is expected to increase as the area continues to grow.”
The town – embedded in rural and bush landscapes – was also at significant fire risk, as illustrated by Black Saturday.
Mr Dobrich was satisfied the 40-strong volunteer brigade had enough members, but its parking area was likely to be “squeezed” by a planned duplication of Narre Warren North Road.
“Our numbers give us capacity to respond to the (urban) growth.
“The issue is around the growth of the area. It affects the ability of people to get to the station and where we’re going to park.”