South West volunteer fire brigade want to move away from shire control to better handle the heat

Craig DuncanBunbury Herald
The Gelorup Volunteer Bush Fire Brigade was one of the first groups on the scene of the Dalyellup peatland fires.
Camera IconThe Gelorup Volunteer Bush Fire Brigade was one of the first groups on the scene of the Dalyellup peatland fires. Credit: Supplied/RegionalHUB

Members of a volunteer fire brigade are hoping for some major changes in the coming years as its South West shire voted to investigate its transition to an official Department of Fire and Emergency Services (DFES) station.

The Shire of Capel voted to conduct a report looking into the viability of transitioning the management of the Gelorup Volunteer Bush Fire Brigade over to DFES.

The report is expected to be finalised later this year and the council will vote whether or not they support the transition of the brigade.

Should the council choose to endorse the transition, the Gelorup brigade will be the first volunteer brigade in the region to join DFES.

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Gelorup Volunteer Bush Fire Brigade acting president Kevin Jones spoke at the council meeting and said the brigade hoped to join DFES to increase efficiency and reduce costs.

“Funding for the brigade will not be limited by shire budgetary constraints,” Mr Jones said.

“Under direct DFES management we would have better access to training and equipment.”

Mr Jones said WA is the only State which has volunteer brigades managed by local governments, and said running the station with DFES would mean the brigade is more prepared.

“We will still always be a part of the shire, and will continue to respond as required as we have done in the past,” he said.

“At the end of the day we are all volunteers . . . (so) anything we can do to enable us to be better trained and better equipped so we can get home in one piece to our families is very important to us.”

Councillor and member of the volunteer brigade Cr Terri Sharp said the recent fires in Dalyellup and Waroona are examples of the future of living in a high-risk fire zone.

“It would be negligent of our responsibilities to not give our community the best they can have with emergencies,” she said.

Cr Sharp and Mr Jones both said they would like to see the report come back to the council by the end of September, though no time line was set.

Mr Jones said it is crucial the council fully considers the station’s move before the next fire season takes hold.

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