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CFA boss resigns ahead of controversial fire services merger

Steve Warrington, then Acting Chief Officer of the CFA, in 2009.

Steve Warrington, then Acting Chief Officer of the CFA, in 2009.Credit:Penny Stephens

The new professionals-only agency will run metropolitan fire services, replacing the Metropolitan Fire Brigade. It will take control of the 38 professional CFA brigades at “integrated” stations that are currently shared by the professional CFA firefighters and CFA volunteers.

The state’s fire services boundaries will be changed, bringing outer suburban areas of Melbourne that are served by the CFA under the control of Fire Rescue Victoria.

FRV is due to begin from July 1, and Mr Barnett said volunteer firefighters were furious over a lack of consultation over a secondment deal which would see uniformed career FRV firefighters placed alongside CFA volunteers.

“Volunteers will be deeply saddened and angry to learn that the government’s fire services reform has claimed yet another victim tonight with CFA chief officer Steven Warrington AFSM resigning rather than be forced to sign agreements and contracts that would destroy CFA and rob it of its future,” Mr Barnett said.

“Steve saw what thousands of CFA volunteers have seen and have been raising their concerns about.

“These reforms are not good for CFA, and they are not good for Victoria and no minister or government can try and tell us otherwise”.

Mr Barnett said it was originally intended that Mr Warrington’s position would still exist with the launch of FRV.

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Police and Emergency Services Minister Lisa Neville thanked Mr Warrington for his service, highlighting his duty throughout Victoria’s bushfire crisis this year.

“I will miss Steve greatly – I have learnt much from him about bushfires and the CFA and hold him in high regard.

“While I’m incredibly sad to see Steve leave the CFA, I respect his decision to take time for himself and his family.

“Steve should be immensely proud of his contribution to Victoria and the CFA,” Minister Neville said.

Mr Warrington was appointed Chief Officer of the CFA in 2016, and also became Chief Executive Officer in 2019.

He began his service as a CFA volunteer at Chelsea brigade in 1978 before joining staff as a career firefighter in 1983. He served through the Ash Wednesday and Black Saturday bushfire disasters and was awarded the Australian Fire Service Medal in 2017.

His resignation comes just days out from a controversial merger three years in the making between the CFA and the MFB.

CFA chief officer Steve Warrington with Premier Daniel Andrews in November and Police And Emergency Services Minister Lisa Neville last year.

CFA chief officer Steve Warrington with Premier Daniel Andrews in November and Police And Emergency Services Minister Lisa Neville last year.
Credit:Chris Hopkins

Last year reform legislation to overhaul the state’s fire services passed the Victorian parliament after more than three years of bitter dispute.

Shadow Minister for Emergency Services, Nick Wakeling said Mr Warrington’s resignation signalled a continuation of “chaos and dysfunction” in Victoria’s fire services, overseen by Premier Daniel Andrews.

“Under Daniel Andrews’ leadership a Minister, the CFA board and CEOs have been sacked risking the safety of Victorian public,” he said.

“This latest resignation adds to the decades of firefighting experience already lost because Daniel Andrews is more interested in playing political games than keeping Victorians safe.”

In a statement, the CFA Board said Mr Warrington served the community with “passion, skill and warmth”.

“On behalf of the Board, we thank Steve for his decorated service to the people of Victoria and wish him all the best for the future.” it read.

The board will announce an interim CEO shortly.

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