THE funding towards the CFA’s FIRE WISE magazine has been scrapped.
The paper, which has been published since 1947, has serviced volunteers from 1,200 brigades with information on various operational events.
According to editor Gordon King, the paper had reassurance in August from the embattled firefighting organisation the $60,000 funding would continue.
Volunteer Fire Brigades Victoria (VFBV) chief executive Andrew Ford said they were disappointed with the CFA’s action to cancel funding for the “vital tool of communication and consultation”.
“Volunteers deserve a voice and FIRE WISE is a part of that; cutting funding is another step towards gagging volunteers’,” Mr Ford said.
Mr Ford said the paper was an integral part of the CFA’s ability to communicate with and hear from volunteers.
Leader of the Nationals and Member for Murray Plains Peter Walsh said under a coalition government after the next election, FIRE WISE would be reinstated.
Mr Walsh said the funding cut comes one week after the publication reported on the need for a royal commission into Victoria’s fire services, announced by the Liberals and Nationals.
“FIRE WISE is used by VFBV, the CFA chief, Emergency Management Victoria commissioner Craig Lapsley and local volunteers to communicate messages on issues which affect volunteers,” Mr Walsh said. “This is just one more step in the Daniel Andrews plan to tear the CFA apart by gagging volunteer engagement and participation in fire service delivery.”
In a statement Emergency Services Minister James Merlino said funding decisions concerning FIRE WISE are matters for the CFA.
A CFA spokesman said: “CFA has updated its funding arrangement from an annual cash grant to a paid advertising approach.’’
A defiant Mr King said the paper will continue to print, relying on subscription fees.