Equipment boost for CFA brigades


By Colin MacGillivray

CFA brigades across the City of Whittlesea have claimed a share of $4.8 million dollars of fire-fighting equipment and training programs distributed across Victoria.

The equipment was purchased with the aid of community donations made during the recent bushfire season.

Brigades were able to request items from a CFA pick list that included equipment such as thermal imaging cameras, remote-area lighting, quickfill pumps and rearview cameras.

Some brigades also received provisions for licence testing to allow more members to operate CFA vehicles.

Among the equipment and training earmarked for brigades across Whittleasea is: a new power adaptor, a portable fridge and a quickfill pump for Arthurs Creek; a thermal imaging camera, a carbon monoxide monitor and a battery-operated chainsaw for Doreen; a thermal imaging camera for Epping; remote-area lighting, a thermal imaging camera and five medium rigid vehicle licences for Mernda; a thermal imaging camera for South Morang; a forward command vehicle and a chainsaw for Whittlesea; a structural thermal imaging camera for Wollert; and remote-area lighting, a defibrillator and a thermal imaging camera for Yarrambat.

Whittlesea Fire Brigade captain Jeff Rowden said a new command vehicle would be gratefully accepted after thieves made off with the brigade’s old one.

“We had our FCV, or forward command vehicle, stolen back in December last year, which was very disappointing,” he said.

“We are in the process of replacing that vehicle as a brigade, so we had a cash grant provided to us through the pick list to help us replace some of the personalised gear that was in it. We also got an electric chainsaw, which we carry in the FCV.

“It’s very handy and was very well appreciated.”

Mr Rowden said the Whittlesea brigade would welcome a full complement of operational vehicles.

“It knocked us around a bit during the fire season with the lack of a vehicle, but we got a lend of one from our group,” he said.

“Due to COVID-19, as a brigade we haven’t been able to replace the vehicle yet, but we’re in the process of deciding what type of vehicle to get and moving ahead with it at the moment.”

More than a third of the $4.8 million total funds came directly from a community fundraiser for the CFA during the bushfire season – $1.8 million generated by private citizen Jodie Silva through a Facebook fundraiser.

Ms Silva said she had created the fundraiser to ensure there was a channel for donations to Victoria and CFA, and she promoted it widely in numerous social media threads.

Mr Rowden said the show of public support for the CFA had been outstanding.

“We definitely appreciate the donations,” he said.

“We only get X amount of dollars from the CFA to run a station and it’s not a lot of money, so we rely on the goodwill of the public to donate money to brigades for certain equipment – especially specialised equipment that we need.

“This year due to COVID we haven’t been able to do a lot of fundraising to get money from the public.

“Whittlesea Fire Brigade normally does parking for the Whittlesea Show and we get donations from the public for that; the Whittlesea Show has been cancelled this year.”