Association finds a place to call home

Jacinta CantatoreHarvey-Waroona Reporter

After almost five years without a dedicated office, the State’s peak volunteer firefighter body has found a place to call home.

The Association of Volunteer Bushfire Brigades will now operate from inside the WA Farmers Belmont headquarters and has signed on its first full-time employee.

The association closed its doors in 2014 as a cost-cutting measure following changes to DFES funding structure and instead ran a “virtual” office from the homes of its volunteer committee and part-time staff.

“That arrangement proved relatively successful over the years, but there has always been an urgent need to establish an office that members could physically visit as well as develop better administrative processes and practices,” association chief executive officer Darren Brown said.

When the State Government announced the new Bushfire Centre of Excellence near Pinjarra, Mr Brown approached Premier Mark McGowan with an offer to house the volunteer association’s operations within the government centre.

He believed this would improve volunteer and career firefighter collaboration, as well as add value to the facility with an Education and Heritage Centre.

The State Government rejected the offer.

“While we had hoped to build our relationship with DFES and add value to a regional town by co-locating with the centre, establishing our first office in a non-government building in the metropolitan area has other benefits,” Mr Brown said.

“Being able to establish infrastructure and administration systems for the association that aren’t based around the dining table or spare room of a generous volunteer and their family will mean better efficiency, quicker responses and ultimately, better outcomes for the incredible 26,000 women and men we aim to serve,” Mr Brown said.

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