New look, new badge, same service for Ocean Grove firefighters

July 9, 2020 BY

IT IS BUSINESS as usual for the Ocean Grove Fire Station according to commander Ian Beswicke, despite unveiling a new look for paid firefighters on July 1.
As the state’s fire service reforms came into effect, paid members and their trucks are now rebadged under the Fire Rescue Victoria
(FRV) moniker.
Mr Beswicke, of the Bellarine Catchment, said while paid firefighters will be sporting a new name, Ocean Grove Country Fire Authority (CFA) volunteers will still operate out of the Shell Road fire station, with CFA logos on their trucks.
“There’s always concerns from people about how it (change) will affect the community but I can reassure the community they’ll be well and truly looked after throughout this process,” Mr Beswicke said.
“They shouldn’t notice any change. The community will dial 000, a fire truck will turn up at their house with staff and volunteers. It won’t matter what colour truck or uniform, they’ll work together, do their job and protect the community.
“The government have been heading down this path for many years, and it’s taken a long time to get where we are.”
The new FRV service brings paid firefighters at regional integrated stations, such as Ocean Grove, under the same banner as metropolitan fire brigades; CFA stickers have already been removed from the fire appliances of paid firefighters and replaced with FRV stickers.
Mr Beswicke said the changes allow staff to have an Enterprise Bargaining Agreement (EBA), something legislation had made impossible
since 2010.
“They couldn’t have a current EBA under the CFA, the last one was in 2010. It will allow staff to be looked after under a single service and CFA to fully focus on their volunteers.”
Mr Beswicke’s been with the CFA for more than 40 years, volunteering for five years before that, and with a combined service of 45 years said he’s still got “a couple of years” left in him yet.
“Ocean Grove has a great bunch of staff and volunteers. They support each other, respect each other, and bring specific things to their
respective roles.
“As the officer in charge of Ocean Grove, it’s been a really good experience. Whether they’re volunteer or staff, they know what their job is.”
Mr Beswicke said paid firefighters will now answer to the FRV commissioner instead of the CFA chief officer, and encouraged both parties to maintain mutual respect for one another.
“It doesn’t matter what colour the truck or the uniform is, to the community it’s all the same; it’s about providing a service to keep them safe.
“There’s always a bit of unknown and questions that haven’t been answered yet. We’ve changed from an integrated station to a co-located station but for now, it’s just about reassuring the public they won’t see any impact.
“It’s just administrative things on our end we need to do as two organisations to ensure we can work as one.”