Bushfire leaders jump on brigade-DFES discussion

Warren HatelyAugusta Margaret River Times

The Shire’s bushfire hierarchy has moved to reverse a request by two fellow brigades seeking direct administration by the Department of Fire and Emergency Services.

An item introduced late to last Wednesday’s Bushfire Advisory Committee triggered a 5-2 vote demanding greater consultation by councillors and revocation of the council’s recent decision supporting DFES discussions.

It comes after the Rosa Brook Volunteer Bushfire Brigade won council endorsement earlier this month to join talks already started between Shire of Augusta-Margaret River chief executive Stephanie Addison-Brown and Commissioner Darren Klemm for Wallcliffe Volunteer Bushfire Brigade’s transition to DFES.

Rosa Brook and Wallcliffe voted against the BFAC item.

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The motion, moved and secon-ded by Karridale and Cowaramup brigades, said the council failed to consider the impact of this month’s decision on other brigades. It also noted BFAC “wishes to express their disappointment in the council going back on their original decision (last September) to end the discussion around brigades transitioning to management by DFES”.

The motion included a request for councillors to consult with the other brigades.

During the February 12 meeting, at which Rosa Brook got the nod, Shire president Ian Earl said some brigade members were unhappy at volunteers switching to DFES.

Cr Earl told the Times this week the motion reflected those concerns. He also defended the lack of notice for the late item.

“It is a bit unusual that an item came up this late, but not unheard of,” Cr Earl said. “However, council had only made the decision on Rosa Brook the previous week and the next BFAC is not till May.

“The opportunity for discussion with other eight brigades may have passed them by in that time.”

The BFAC motion would go before councillors on March 11.

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