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Friday, 15 April 2016 00:00

VFBV's FireWise Page - April 2016

IN THIS EDITION

  • Fire Services Review response hits the mark
  • VESEP Grants - apply now
  • Digital Scanners - Tier 3 orders open now
  • Cancer Law - latest update
  • Young Volunteers Wanted for VFBV's Youth Network
  • Recognition of Qualifications
  • Fatigue Management
  • And more...

FIRE SERVICES REVIEW RESPONSE HITS THE MARK

By Andrew Ford, VFBV Chief Executive Officer

VFBV supports the Government’s response to the Fire Services Review and we have commended Minister Garrett for taking the time to make a sensible and considered response.  We have also welcomed the invitation to work with Government on the issues requiring further consideration.   

Over all, our reaction to the Government’s response to the review’s recommendations is positive and I believe this provides a good foundation for us to work constructively with Government and the CFA.  I have said publicly that in the main the Government’s response to the Fire Services Review is on the mark, and for the issues requiring more work, VFBV looks forward to working with Government, the agencies and other stakeholders.

I think most CFA volunteers will also be pleased overall with the Government’s response.  A key theme throughout the review is a recognition of the enormous front line and collective capacity of Victoria’s fire services.  There is a very strong theme of needing to ensure there is a culture and collective respect of the skills, knowledge and professionalism of Victorian firefighters, volunteer and paid staff alike, regardless of pay status.  The report calls to improve leadership and to address a concerning culture that has tolerated; treating people differently based on pay status; bullying and harassment; poor front line worker and management relationships; and a them and us approach.

There is a strong call for everyone in the sector to focus more energy on working as one.  There is strong recognition of the need for CFA to have more flexibility in the way it deploys resources to support local brigades and community circumstances, and there is an identified need to improve leadership from agency executive level through to Brigade level and across the sector’s collective leadership.

The review recognises the strengths of the existing fire services and says that effort should be focussed on ensuring the separate fire services share common effort, reduce duplication and work as one.  The report explicitly advises against any contemplation of amalgamating the MFB and CFA, reporting that this would have a negative rather than constructive impact. 

The report acknowledges the extensive and essential capacity of CFA’s volunteer Brigades and the fundamental value of sustaining and building strong integration in those communities where paid staff are required to supplement volunteer capacity.  The report identifies the essential nature of CFA’s volunteer Brigade surge capacity for major and concurrent events.

There are 20 recommendations, and the Government has identified actions to address 18 of these.  Several recommendations are earmarked for further discussion/work and the Government has committed to work with VFBV and others on the detail of these.

Based on some commonly discussed issues during the review, many volunteers will be particularly interested in the following recommendations and government response;

  • Recommendation 9, concerning consideration of a Firefighters’ Registration Board – Government response is to initiate national consultation on this over the next five years.  The report detail suggests this would need to be open to volunteers and paid firefighters alike and would provide an opportunity to facilitate lateral entry and recognise skills, irrespective of whether they are paid or volunteer.
  • Recommendation 18, concerning deploying Leading Firefighters or Station Officers to provide administrative, technical, community engagement and operational support to volunteer Brigades.  The Government has supported the intent of finding ways to support volunteer Brigades, but has noted the best means to deliver that support requires further consideration.
  • Recommendation 17, includes recommendation that CFA review the process for selecting Brigade Captains.  Government response suggests a selection process be developed to enhance the current approach to focus on ensuring the necessary leadership and technical skills needed for the role.  This work has a timeframe of the next two years.
  • Recommendation 5, includes developing best practice models for initiation and planning for the establishment of integrated Brigades and the selection of leaders of integrated Brigades, drawing on successful processes adopted to date.  Government response is that CFA is to lead a short review to identify best practices.
  • There are also recommendations concerning training; health & wellbeing; developing leadership; and better engagement with volunteers and representative bodies.

VFBV will seek to be very closely involved with work on these and the actions proposed for all other recommendations.

Of interest is an acknowledgement to include VFBV on EMV’s Fire Services Interoperability Committee.  This is consistent with VFBV’s previous requests to EMC Craig Lapsley and also an issue covered in our submission to the review.  VFBV has previously expressed dissatisfaction to the EMC about not being included in this important forum.

There are several recommendations relating to culture in the fire services and issues specifically relating to bullying and harassment.   VFBV has already welcomed the CFA-commissioned Equity and Diversity Review being conducted by VEOHRC.

At a more strategic level, there are recommendations involving consideration of possible future service delivery models, a review of CFA and MFB legislation, and a review of the legislation giving powers to EMV, but no specific direction set down as yet.  VFBV will certainly be taking a keen interest to ensure these important issues progress in a positive way.

You can download a copy of the Fire Services Review report and the Government’s response and hear ABC radio's Conversation Hour discussion of the issues here.

The Fire Services Review website includes copies of all public submissions including VFBV, CFA and EMV submissions.

 

VESEP GRANTS OPEN NOW

Applications are now open for Volunteer Emergency Services Equipment Program (VESEP) grants, with $12.8 million available to volunteer emergency services organisations.

Brigades and Groups can apply for VESEP grants of up to $100,000 for operational equipment and small capital works.

This is a welcome announcement from Minister for Emergency Services, Jane Garrett, and a sign of the Government’s recognition of the professionalism and essential services provided by Victoria’s emergency management volunteers.

VFBV worked with the State Government on the design of VESEP, helping to make it as simple and practical as possible, and we continue to work with CFA so Brigades and Groups can achieve the best outcome.

VESEP contributes two dollars in grant money for every one dollar raised locally by the Brigade, and last year 202 Brigades and Groups were successful with their applications.

This year’s VESEP grants will favour applications for:

  • Operational Equipment such as chainsaws, quick fill pumps, generators, inflatable rescue boats, and rescue and safety equipment.
  • Vehicles and appliances such as vehicles, lighting and storm trailers, light/medium tankers, big fill trucks, watercraft and rescue trucks.
  • Minor Facility Improvements, refurbishments and amenities such as: kitchens/change rooms

Talk to your State Councillor for advice and visit the VESEP grants page for an Application Help Pack and case studies from successful applications in past rounds.

 

VFBV Affiliation and Welfare Fund Subscriptions

                       For the benefit of your Brigade and volunteers

Renewal notices for your Brigade/Group’s VFBV Affiliation and Brigade’s VFBV Volunteer Welfare Fund subscription have been mailed and should be with your Secretary now, with a due date of 30 June, 2016.

The modest cost of $77.50 for VFBV affiliation is the same for all Brigades and Groups, and VFBV’s representation of CFA volunteers continues to win growing approval and support, with a record 94% of Brigades affiliating in 2015/16

By renewing your membership or signing up as a new member you not only demonstrate support for the important work VFBV does on behalf of all CFA volunteers, you also help build the strength of VFBV’s influence, your Brigade or Group will be entitled to participate in VFBV forums and decision making, and your Brigade’s members will be eligible to be supported by VFBV’s Welfare Fund.

We also strongly encourage Brigades to subscribe to the VFBV Welfare Fund in the interests of supporting your members in times of personal hardship. The VFBV Welfare Fund operates under Australian Tax Office rules for charities and is independently audited. It can provide small grants to assist volunteer members, their immediate family members and long servicing ex-members, who are suffering significant financial hardship. Over the past five years, the Welfare Fund has distributed over $550,000 to 170 CFA volunteers in need.

It should be noted that in order to access the VFBV Welfare Fund, your Brigade must be affiliated with VFBV, since the association pays all of the VFBV Welfare Fund’s operating costs. For full details visit the VFBV website www.vfbv.com.au and go to the Member Services area.

If you would like to speak to someone from VFBV about your affiliation please contact one of your District’s VFBV State Councillors or call the VFBV office on (03) 9886 1141.

 

DIGITAL SCANNERS – TIER 3 ORDERS OPEN

Brigades have now been notified of their successful orders for digital scanners under Tier 2 of the subsidy scheme, and have until 15 May to pay for their scanners.

The subsidy scheme has been a great success, and more than 1,000 Brigades and Groups have received subsidised digital scanners under Tier 1 and 2 orders.

All of the subsidised scanners have now been allocated, but you can order additional units at cost price – still well under retail - under Tier 3 of the program, which is open until 30 June 2016.

Get your Tier 3 orders in now;

Download the Brigade Order Form here

Download the Group Order Form here

You can download the updated FAQ sheet by clicking here, or download a copy of the Tier 2 confirmation letter and instructions by clicking here.

The whole subsidy program has been an outstanding success for members, and is a great example of CFA and VFBV working together for the benefit for our members.

 

2016 VFBV RURAL SENIOR CHAMPIONSHIPS RESULTS

Dunrobin/Nangeela B had a clear win at the 2016 VFBV Rural Championships, Katunga won the Discipline and the crowd at Colac had a great weekend.

There was real diversity on the field, with young men and women from communities all over Victoria and plenty of team spirit.

The events are based on practical firefighting activities.  As well as camaraderie among the teams, they build fitness, team skills and capabilities with hoses, pumps and other equipment that make them a useful addition to each Brigade’s regular weekly training regime.

The championships also offer one of same benefits as staging a major fire brigade exercise; giving Brigades and volunteers the chance to build the networks that pay off when they work together on large scale bushfires and other major emergencies.

As always, the success of the championships was the result of an amazing effort by the organising committee, volunteer judges and officials, support teams and CFA’s hard working DMOs. Congratulations to all involved.

For detailed results, see the rural championships page

 

2016 VFBV RURAL JUNIOR CHAMPIONSHIPS RESULTS

It was a nail biter of a finish in the 2016 VFBV Rural Junior Championships, with Springhurst A, Ascot A and Greta A all on 48 points.

Only a countback could separate them, leaving Springhurst the Champion Team for 2016!

There was a great turnout of girls and boys from communities all over Victoria, with 39 Brigades represented by the CFA volunteer firefighters and community leaders of tomorrow.

Each event is designed to build great team spirit, fitness, team skills and capabilities with hoses, pumps and other equipment that make it a useful addition to each Brigade’s regular weekly training regime.

Of course the teams’ performance on the field is not just about making a big effort on the day, but the hours of practise and dedication of Brigades, coaches, parents and families throughout the year to encourage, train and support our young juniors in developing the professionalism that will benefit their communities for years to come.

As always, the success of the championships was also the result of an amazing effort by the organising committee, volunteer judges and officials, support teams and CFA’s hard working DMOs.  Congratulations to all involved.

For detailed results, click here.

 

VFBV 2016 STATE URBAN SENIOR CHAMPIONSHIPS

The 2016 VFBV State Urban Championships have concluded, with Maryvale taking the title of Champion Brigade with a convincing win over Kangaroo Flat and Melton .

The team from Werribee has been victorious in B Class, with Patterson River second and Sale third.

C Class honours were taken out by Whittlesea, with Stanhope in second place and Knox Group third.

Victoria won the Interstate Challenge, in a very closely fought contest.

Congratulations to the Mildura Committee on their organisation and commitment to the championships, and we hope to see all competitors, families and spectators next year for the VFBV 2017 State Urban Championships at Bendigo.

Detailed results are available for download from our urban championships page.

 

CANCER LAW – DON’T STOP NOW

We expect that proposed presumptive legislation – the Firefighters’ Cancer Law – will be in Parliament soon, but we are concerned the legislation may contain a barrier to volunteers accessing compensation, in the form of an arbitrary ‘incident threshold’ - possibly requiring 150 incidents in any five-year period before they become eligible.

The arbitrary nature of the ‘incident threshold’ is seen by volunteers as simply a way to drastically reduce the number of volunteers who will become eligible.

VFBV has written to your Brigade with details – you are encouraged to raise the concerns with Government MPs serving your area as soon as possible.

Many VFBV District Councils are distributing shop window posters to Brigades that call for the public’s support, and there is more information on our presumptive legislation page.

 

YOUNG VOLUNTEERS WANTED

To improve VFBV’s engagement and representation of younger members, we are establishing a VFBV Youth Network.

This is not a once-off forum, but an ongoing framework and process to engage young people in VFBV, CFA and Emergency Management sector discussions, on an ongoing and structured basis.

As a result, VFBV is hosting an Emergency Management sector multi-agency youth network.

VFBV is committed to the Youth Network, and this is a chance for younger volunteers to get on board at an exciting new stage in our evolution.

See our call for Expressions of Interest and stay tuned to www.vfbv.com.au for updates.

 

VFBV WELFARE & EFFICIENCY SURVEY

The VFBV Volunteer Welfare & Efficiency Survey is coming soon. Have your say on issues of importance chosen by volunteers, in a forum that continues to grow in recognition and influence.

The annual survey that has already established itself with the sector’s decision makers is expanding again this year, to include volunteers from right across the Emergency Management sector.

If you took part last year and provided an email address, you are already registered; otherwise provide your name, Brigade and email address to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or call (03) 9886 1141 to request a printed copy of the survey.

 

RECOGNITION OF MEDICAL QUALIFICATIONS

The problem of gaining CFA recognition of the first aid skills of volunteers who are medical practitioners, paramedics and nurses is moving towards resolution.

The VFBV/CFA Joint Training Committee has been pressing for a solution for a number of years and has now been advised that CFA proposes the creation of a new enterprise (CFA) competency (not a nationally recognized competency unit) which will be called “Eligible to provide first aid in the workplace”.

The competency will be used to record those members who have evidence of formal and current qualifications and will satisfy the CFA skills profile requirements for first aid for those members. CFA is seeking the support of key stakeholders before applying for official approval. VFBV will keep members updated on progress.

 

FATIGUE MANAGEMENT

The VFBV/CFA Joint Operations Committee has been highlighting District and Regional variances in fatigue management procedures for some time, and has made use of a new case study based on a recent large incident to support its case.

The Committee has asked CFA to develop a standard set of guidelines for the whole state, outlining crew changeovers, appropriate rest periods and long haul strike team travel arrangements, including the use of coaches and/or fresh drivers to return appliances to their home locations.

    

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Read 11312 times Last modified on Friday, 15 April 2016 14:59
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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