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Vic volunteers late to fires: inquiry told

AAP logoAAP 18/09/2016 Kaitlyn Offer

Volunteer-only fire brigades often can't make it to emergencies on time due to work and external commitments, some integrated brigades have told a senate inquiry.

CFA volunteers and career firefighters are giving evidence at a federal senate inquiry into draft laws to amend the Fair Work act to stop enterprise agreements from limiting the ability of volunteer emergency services agencies to manage volunteers.

The laws were introduced by Prime Minster Malcolm Turnbull amid ongoing controversy in Victoria about a state deal for paid firefighters.

Volunteer firefighters fear that under the proposed pay deal - which is being challenged in the Victorian Supreme Court - their roles will be diminished with the union effectively given veto powers over operational decisions.

United Firefighters Union secretary Peter Marshall has said the changes to the federal Fair Work laws were political and based on falsehoods.

On Monday, firefighters from Rowville and Ballarat City integrated stations submitted to the inquiry that their crews would often arrive first to a fire, even when a volunteer brigade was meant to provide the primary response.

Joined by volunteer and career firefighters from Hallam, Craigieburn and Greenvale, these firefighters submitted that the draft laws should be ditched.

They said the controversial EBA should go ahead, and they maintained its clauses were necessary for safety.

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