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Pay deal would destroy CFA, Nolan says

AAP logoAAP 5/09/2016 Helen Velissaris and Kaitlyn Offer

It was either back a deal that would destroy the CFA, or quit.

That was the decision former CFA chief executive Lucinda Nolan felt she had to make.

Breaking her silence for the first time since she resigned from her role in June, Ms Nolan detailed her concerns about the controversial firefighters' pay deal at a fire preparedness parliamentary inquiry on Tuesday.

She said the deal she was pushed to endorse before she resigned contained 50 new clauses that required consultation and agreement with the firefighters' union - which would slow down management.

"I could not stay and oversee the destruction of the CFA," she said.

She said after former emergency services minister Jane Garrett resigned and the CFA board was sacked mid-year, it was clear she either had to endorse the deal or leave.

No one had explicitly told her to sign or leave, but that was her "perception" based on commentary in the media and the sacking of the board, Ms Nolan told the inquiry.

Soon after Ms Nolan resigned chief operations officer Joe Buffone also left the CFA because he also felt his position had become untenable.

He reiterated that on Tuesday, saying his role was "fundamentally inhibited".

He told the inquiry having to resign came at a significant "personal cost, professional cost and financial cost", but denied he left over a lack of financial incentive.

He said he was offered incentives to stay, including flights and study, but rejected them when he resigned from his role.

During the inquiry Ms Nolan was also quizzed by Labor MP Harriet Shing about a leaked report from law firm Seyfarth Shaw and whether the CFA had wanted to "destroy the union".

United Firefighters' Union head Peter Marshall said the leaked report showed the CFA was attempting to de-unionise firefighters.

"What we've seen here is a orchestrated attempt to actually de-unionise firefighters, but most importantly take away the conditions of employment," he told the Nine Network on Tuesday.

Ms Nolan dismissed the claims, insisting she'd "acted with integrity" during the drawn-out dispute.

The CFA and UFU have been battling over the pay deal since 2013.

The current enterprise bargaining agreement is set to go to trial on September 22 after Volunteer Fire Brigades Victoria successfully sought a Supreme Court injunction stopping a vote on the deal.

If the deal is enacted, Mr Buffone believes the CFA would have to inject more funds to be able to run without hindrance.

"I would say with the complexity of the EBA there would need to be some very specific resources put to them to be able to deal with the day-to-day management contest and provide advice out in the field to be able to deal with that," he said.

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