Power firm cuts fire grants
WA’s Western Power has cut an $80,000 a year grants program for volunteer firefighters.
The move has been described as a “smack in the face” by some.
Since 2007, the scheme has allowed volunteer brigades across the state to apply for up to $5,000 in funding from Western Power for the purchase of equipment.
The utility has now scrapped the scheme, saying it is consolidating its sponsorship programs.
Western Power says the money will now go to a State Government-linked grants scheme in the “Are You Ready” bushfire campaign.
WA Association of Volunteer Bushfire Brigades (AVBFB) president Dave Gossage has told the ABC he was stunned and disappointed.
“It seems like the volunteers on the ground are yet again being disadvantaged by overall departmental cutbacks across the state,” he said.
“They would be putting in hundreds of thousands of dollars a year of free labour, free resources, and to have this happen to them is a bit of a smack in the face.
“It's really disappointing given the amount of pole-top fires we go to.”
Fire-fighters want government figures including WA Premier Colin Barnett , Emergency Services minister and the Energy minister to review the decision.
“I'm calling on members of parliament to give some support in getting this grant reinstated, because 100 per cent of that $80,000 went to the volunteers in the community on the ground that donate their time for free,” Gossage said.
“The volunteers have acknowledged the absolutely wonderful working relationship we have with Western Power crews on the ground. It's fantastic, and that relationship won't change.
“But what is concerning is the high-end bureaucracy seeing volunteers as an easy target to cut back on funding.”
Western Power has reportedly defended the decision, which it says was designed to make the grants program more sustainable.
The utility has told bushfire brigades they can still apply for grants through an existing $250,000 scheme, which has been maintained.