Funding cut to CFA ‘Firewise’ newspaper a gag on volunteers?
A NEWSPAPER started in Warracknabeal 70 years ago for volunteer ﬁre ﬁghters across the state, will face severe ﬁnancial constraints after the CFA has advised it will cut funding to the monthly newspaper/magazine which has traditionally been the voice and communication between 1,300 CFA volunteer brigades across the state.
Gordon King, Editor of ‘FIRE WISE’ the ofﬁcial newspaper of Volunteer Fire Brigades Victoria (whose grandfather started the original publication as The Fireman in 1947) said,
“despite the CFA being a strong supporter of ‘Fire Wise’ and ‘The Fireman’ for nearly 50 years, and in a turnaround from assurances of continued funding this year, given as recently as August by key staff, CFA has withdrawn its funding contribution.”
“CFA backed away from its assurance of continued funding in a letter to Fire Wise last month, advising the CFA grant would no longer be paid and that any future payments would only be ‘fee for service’ payments for advertising.”
“CFA’s ﬁnancial support and recognition of the importance of Fire Wise has been an important factor in keeping the cost of the publication to a minimum for decades, and has helped ensure a free copy of the publication is available for every CFA Brigade Captain and Group Ofﬁcer each month.”
Beyond the CFA funding grant, the ongoing publication of Fire Wise is made possible due to reader paid subscriptions, support from Volunteer Fire Brigades Victoria and from niche advertising.
Mr King said, “even though CFA has withdrawn ﬁnancial support, I know we have many supporters who understand the value and need for a publication such as Fire Wise and I will be working with these people to ensure our ongoing success.”
“Like the generations who managed ‘The Fireman’ before me I am more convinced than ever that it is vitally important for there to be a thriving and respected opportunity for the voice of CFA volunteers to be shared and for the unconstrained conversations about volunteer issues, ideas and opinions to be on the table. A publication by volunteers for volunteers,” Mr King said.
The publication has played a vital role in communicating with and connecting CFA volunteers across Victoria for more than 70 years. Since the ﬁrst edition was printed
and distributed in 1947
‘The Fireman’, known today as ‘Fire Wise’, has been one of the most important and widely read news and information mechanisms available to CFA volunteers, as well as the only independent source of news. Since the establishment of CFA ‘the Fireman’ and now ‘Firewise’ has given CFA Brigades and volunteers an opportunity to contribute and have a say on a wide range of matters impacting on CFA, CFA volunteers and community safety.“
"Since 1970 through until last ﬁnancial year CFA has ﬁnancially contributed to ‘Fire Wise’ and ‘The Fireman’ before it. This contribution has been based on CFA’s open recognition of the important role the publication plays in communicating with volunteers, keeping volunteers connected and sharing news about what we do with families, friends and supporters of CFA,” Mr King said.
Warracknabeal Fire Brigade captain and regional vice president of the VFVB said,
“it’s disappointing to see cuts like this to an important tool of communication amongst brigades. I do wonder where these cuts might continue, particularly when such vast amounts of money are being collected from the ﬁre service levy across the state.”