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Friday, 10 October 2014 00:00

Joint Operations Committee - 2 Minute Briefing August 2014

Issue 10: August 2014

Quick snapshot of the priority issues and actions worked through at the most recent Joint Committee meeting between CFA and VFBV. (Meeting held 31/08/14)

VOLUNTEER UTILISATION IN IMTs

The Committee again discussed its concerns surrounding the underutilization of Volunteers within IMT’s, and the barriers that are preventing Volunteers involvement. Practical examples like long shift deployments of 7 and 14 days, and short notice (night before) for deployments makes it almost impossible for Volunteers to negotiate with their employers. The Committee has also voiced its concerns about perceived cherry picking of roles, with Volunteers only used to fill gaps.

Disappointingly, CFA have advised that the HCMS system that was planned to be online for this fire season would not be ready. This system would have assisted with the scheduling and tracking of member availability over the FDP.

The Committee has requested the Chief Officer form a clear intent statement for the use of Volunteers within IMT’s and encourage and promote the flexibilities required to maximize their involvement. The Committee has also requested that CFA write to the Emergency Management Commissioner requesting he also take steps to encourage, maintain and strengthen the utilization of Volunteers in all multi-agency endeavours.

LOW VOLTAGE FUSE REMOVAL

The Committee has escalated the issue of Low Voltage Fuse Removal training, after being advised by the Joint Training Committee that they were still waiting for Chief Officer’s endorsement. VFBV first raised this issue in 2008, and has been seeking operational support and priority for members to be trained in low voltage fuse removal for all structural brigades in order to ensure the safety of crews during first attack. Long delays by power companies attending incidents continues to acerbate the issue.

The Committee has warned that after years of inaction, and delays in an approved package being delivered, swathes of members currently qualified in low voltage fuse removal, are facing the expiry of their qualifications, and no pathway for reaccreditation. The Committee is seeking an urgent decision by the Chief Officer.

HEAVY PUMPER AND SPECIALIST APPLIANCE INCREMENTS

CFA has agreed to investigate why so few Volunteers have been trained and endorsed for specialist appliances. The problem is most acute at integrated locations, where even the number of Volunteers endorsed to operate Heavy Pumpers (which is not a piece of specialist equipment) is extremely low, yet at Volunteer Brigades with Heavy Pumpers there are very high numbers of members trained. CFA has an obligation under the CFA Act to encourage and support Volunteers to deliver all its services, yet there does not appear to be any measures or KPI’s in place to monitor how well it does that. The Committee has received reports from many Volunteers over the last 12 months who have described the barriers that appear to be preventing Volunteers gaining endorsement on specialist appliances. Whilst an opportunity to train is one thing, the Committee has also stressed the need for there to be affirmative action plans to have Volunteers use that equipment, to address the chicken and egg analogy of why someone would want to be trained on something that they never get to use. The Committee is hoping to see a renewed focus with the introduction of ACO’s.

REVERSE SECTION 29 PILOT EXTENDED

The reverse Section 29 Pilot has been relaunched, with an online option to be provided to Brigades during the trial period that commenced 9 July 2014. The trial has now been extended to 30 June 2015. Any Brigades wishing to complete the “reverse section 29” can do so, simply ask your Operations Officer or Operations Manager to send you the link. The reverse S29 provides Brigades an opportunity to provide feedback to CFA to capture key viability challenges faced by Brigades.

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CFA Volunteers are the unpaid professionals of our Emergency Services. VFBV is their united voice, and speaks on behalf of Victoria's 60,000 CFA Volunteers.

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