THE CFA has reversed a decision to remove sanitary bins from a number of Victorian fire brigades, seemingly to cut costs, but the organisation denied it ever had intended to withdraw the feminine hygiene disposal service.

Brigade captain, Russell Wright from the Erica CFA, just outside Moe in the Latrobe Valley, had told his volunteers recently that sanitary bins were being withdrawn from certain fire stations, to be replaced with a small labelled regular bin with a flip lid.

The plastic bag inside would then be deposed into a larger regular bin.

“We received a letter in early January from the CFA to say that sanitary bins were being withdrawn from fire stations that had the service,” Mr Wright told the ABC.

In a statement to the ABC last week, CFA said they had not made the decision to withdraw the sanitary bins, and said the brigades currently using the service can continue to do so.

In state parliament on Tuesday, February 6, Member for Eastern Victoria Region, Melina Bath questioned Minister for Emergency Services, Jaclyn Symes about this issue.

“The sanitary bin collection service had been in place at the Erica station since 2011 and the cancellation of it flies in the face of dignity and respect,” Ms Bath said.

“A suggested plastic bin and bag as an alternative is a backwards step for women’s rights.

“With membership close to 50 per cent, the female volunteers are justifiably incensed that this decision is at odds with the governments’ stated CFA diversity and inclusion policy.”

Ms Symes said the issue had been brought to her attention at the end of last year, but said it was “up to the individual brigades” on whether they provide the service, and that she does not wish to “direct (their) contract provisions”.

“In relation to this specific matter, it is a matter for that particular brigade. It is a matter that I have been made aware of, and I have made my own inquiries,” she said.

Ms Symes offered to chat about the matter in a less public setting, as this issue dealt with private information.

She also accused the National Party of “(failing to) forget the lack of investment and the neglect that they provided our volunteer organisations when they were in government”.

Ms Bath criticised Ms Symes’ response the following day.

“The Minister’s response stating, ‘it was a matter for individual brigades’ is poor form – our female volunteer firefighters deserve to be valued for the work they do protecting our communities,” she said.