The Association of Volunteer Bush Fire Brigades expresses its appreciation to Western Power, and particularly its new CEO, Mr Guy Chalkley, for hearing our pleas over the Volunteer Bush Fire Brigades grants scheme and offering to be a sponsor for our Annual Conference Dinner.
Volunteers and the Association’s Committee were stunned by the recent announcement that Western Power was going to end its grants program for VBFBs. Instead the Brigades would have to compete with every other emergency and community group for funding from a general grants pool.
The Association’s President, Dave Gossage AFSM, met with Guy Chalkley to plead the case that VBFBs who put out hundreds of fires every year through a massive membership dispersed across the state are indeed worthy of special recognition.
“Western Power staff certainly recognise the efforts of VBFBs and the enormous contribution they make to community safety and resilience. Our challenge to them was to back the sentiment and recognition with substance by somehow ensuring VBFBs get a sizeable portion of the grants reflective of their contribution to the community,” said Dave Gossage.
Western Power responded to the challenge positively and will demonstrate their goodwill by offering $50,000 to the Association to distribute grants to VBFBs. The Association will release more details about this grants scheme as soon as details are arranged. Western Power will also be a major sponsor of our Annual Conference Dinner this year.
Brigades will still be able to apply for grants from the general pool and, in more good news, the $5,000 cap has been lifted. Western Power expects that, in total, more than $80,000 of the $250,000 grant funding will be directed to VBFBs especially as annual applications from VBFBs averaged over $140,000. We certainly hope so.
In a further gesture of support for BFB Volunteers as a supportive employer, we were also informed that Western Power will reiterate to its managers and team leaders that volunteer fire fighters should be allowed to go to fight fires unless there is a major incident at Western Power. Their position is that it should be the norm for Volunteers to be allowed to attend fire fights rather than the exception.
We thank Western Power for their recognition of the efforts of Volunteer Bush Fire Brigades across Western Australia and their tangible support for them.