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Click here to take The 2015 VFBV Volunteer Welfare & Efficiency Survey

Click here to learn more about the annual survey

Talk to other volunteers in your Brigade about taking part - More participants means greater influence for the survey results when we take them to CFA, the Emergency Management Commissioner and the State Government.

The survey is open until 31 August 2015.

You can see the 2014 results by clicking here

This year, VICSES volunteers have their own survey, hosted by VFBV on behalf of VESA – VICSES volunteers can click here to take part or find out more here.

Published in VFBV News

The report on the 2014 VFBV Volunteer Welfare and Efficiency Survey is now available - you can read it online here or download it below.

We encourage volunteers to read the report, and to register for the 2015 survey now (see below, the survey starts in July).

This annual survey looks at trends in volunteer opinion, and would not have been possible without the more than 1,600 CFA volunteers who took part in 2014.

The survey began in 2012 and is put to work as a productive tool by both VFBV and CFA.  This year’s results once again confirm some strong trends that are clear pointers to paths for improvement by CFA. 

VFBV will soon run several Drill Down Workshops with groups of volunteers, looking at the outcomes, the causes and possible courses of action.  To add your comments, talk to your District’s VFBV Delegates or call Cliff Overton at the VFBV office on (03) 9886 1141.

Please encourage your Brigade members to sign up for the 2015 survey - send your name, district and email address to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. and you will receive an invitation by email.  Call (03) 9886 1141 if you require a printed copy of the survey by regular mail.

You can read the full report on the 2014 survey here or download a PDF copy below.

 You can sign up for the 2015 survey here.

 

 

Published in VFBV News

The 2014 VFBV Volunteer Welfare and Efficiency Survey is the third annual survey of Victoria’s CFA volunteers conducted by Volunteer Fire Brigades Victoria.

Whilst there are areas for improvement, it is pleasing to see a trend of gradual improvement against many of the survey aspects. The survey’s intent and main benefit is in guiding effort and focusing energy on just such improvements.

The survey is a practical starting point for conversation and continuous improvement, and with the cooperation of all involved it continues to fulfil the hopes we had for it when we launched it three years ago.

The survey is run by VFBV, informed by growing numbers of volunteers and being put to work as a productive tool by both VFBV and CFA. This year’s survey results once again confirm some strong trends that are clear pointers to paths for improvement by CFA.

A practical and productive document, this survey would not have been possible without the support of CFA volunteers, and our special thanks go out to the more than 1,600 members who participated in 2014.

To all of the volunteers who read this report, I urge you to take part in the 2015 survey and to encourage other members of your Brigade and Group to do the same. By registering now, you can receive the survey by email or by post when it begins in July, and by doing so, you add your own voice to those of the more than 1,600 CFA volunteers who had their say last year.

Andrew Ford
Chief Executive Officer
Volunteer Fire Brigades Victoria

 

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Survey respondents are asked to rate their satisfaction with their role with CFA, the way they are treated by CFA, their intentions to remain a CFA volunteer and their likelihood to recommend being a CFA volunteer to others.

The 2014 survey results across the four satisfaction questions are highly aligned to the 2013 results. 80% of respondents are satisfied with their role in CFA in 2013 and 2014, whilst there is a 2% shift in 2014 from ‘unsure’ to ‘dissatisfied’.

A 2% shift in 2014 from ‘dissatisfied’ to ‘satisfied’ has increased volunteer satisfaction with the way they are treated by CFA from 57% to 59%.

Satisfaction levels with the way volunteers’ rate their treatment by CFA shows the greatest improvement across all satisfaction measures – with a 5% increase in satisfaction from 2012 to 2014.

The ‘intention to continue my role with CFA’ results are identical for 2013 and 2014.

A 1% change in the 2013 and 2014 results for the satisfaction statement ‘I would recommend being a CFA volunteer to people I know’ sees the yes score increase to 81%.

As stated previously, the comparatively low satisfaction score with the way volunteers feel they are treated by CFA suggests that the greatest potential impact on future volunteer welfare and efficiency sits with CFA in the success or otherwise, of their partnerships with volunteer brigades.

In addition to the broader satisfaction questions, survey results against each statement for the past three years can be compiled to observe trends in active satisfaction and active dissatisfaction.

Survey results suggest that whilst volunteers continue to be most satisfied with the support and encouragement they receive at local brigade level, they remain actively dissatisfied with CFA’s performance in relation to consultation at a District, Regional and Corporate level.

 

Eleven survey statements scored satisfaction levels markedly higher than the rest of the survey. The same statements have also scored consistently higher for the past three years and in most cases, have shown an improvement in satisfaction levels over that time. These statements relate to the range of factors that contribute to a welcoming and rewarding local brigade environment, that is supportive of volunteers and operating well at a local brigade level.

One statement “volunteers are effectively consulted and involved in decision making at CFA Corporate level” scored dissatisfaction (37%) higher than satisfaction (21%) as well as achieving the lowest satisfaction rating. The same statement scores the second largest gap in survey results and demonstrates an ongoing need for improved consultation between volunteers and Corporate CFA.

Two other statements scored dissatisfaction levels just below satisfaction, consistently over the past three years.

 

Both statements also relate to CFA policies, practices and workforce arrangements that integrate volunteers and paid staff and the impact these have on volunteer consultation and cooperation.

These results suggest there is an ongoing need for improved effort by CFA to build an effective volunteer-based organisation, in which volunteers are supported by employees in a fully integrated manner.

Given this is a fundamental obligation of CFA as described in the CFA Act, this is an area warranting close attention.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Survey respondents provide information that identifies their age, gender, length of time as a volunteer with CFA and brigade type. This information is collated and used to provide material for further analysis.

Gender

In 2014, 86% of survey respondents were male, and 14% female. This is an under representation of the total CFA female volunteer membership, as CFA data indicates that 20% of CFA volunteers are female. The promotion of future surveys to encourage an increased female representation closer to the total membership percentage would benefit the results.

Female survey respondents rated ‘people management – my brigade’ and ‘recruitment and retention’ performance lower than male respondents across the seven themes.

The differences occur when the questions relate to CFA’s performance in conflict resolution, bullying and harassment, in which case, females rate the management of such issues lower than males.

The most telling survey response was in response to the statement “there are no barriers to the roles women can occupy in my brigade”. Females feel that importance and more so performance against this statement are lower than their male counterparts, therefore female respondents see a greater gap.

Nine other survey statements relating to recruitment, retention and brigade behaviour were tested against gender responses; none of the tested statements showed a gender influenced 1.0 gap difference in the above statement. No other statement showed more than 0.5 in gap difference when compared across gender.

More than one third (37%) of survey respondents were in the 40-54 age cohort, which is reflective of the 2010 volunteer participation rate by age as illustrated in the Victorian Auditor General Office 2014 audit Managing Emergency Services Volunteers (p.2).

Survey results broken down by the age range of the volunteer against performance scores show that the overall satisfaction in CFA and brigade is highest in the +65 age group. This may relate to a broader point in life where such views are possibly held on most issues.

The second highest age range to rank CFA highly is the under 25 year old group, this may relate to length of service and a sense of optimism and future reward within CFA.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Age.

More than one third (37%) of survey respondents were in the 40-54 age cohort, which is reflective of the 2010 volunteer participation rate by age as illustrated in the Victorian Auditor General Office 2014 audit Managing Emergency Services Volunteers

Survey results broken down by the age range of the volunteer against performance scores show that the overall satisfaction in CFA and brigade is highest in the +65 age group. This may relate to a broader point in life where such views are possibly held on most issues.

The second highest age range to rank CFA highly is the under 25 year old group, this may relate to length of service and a sense of optimism and future reward within CFA.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

  Length of service as a volunteer.

One quarter of survey respondents have spent more than 25 years as a CFA volunteer, the largest length of service group in the survey, whilst 2% had spent less than one year in CFA as a volunteer and 16% less than five years.

Survey results for gap scores were tested against respondents’ age range to see if trends could be identified.

Volunteer length of service created a distinct pattern across the question responses. Volunteers who have served with CFA for less than one year are the most positive about the organisation and their brigade on nearly every question.

Two distinct increases in the gap between importance and performance occur; firstly in respondents with more than one years’ service and then again in volunteers with more than five years’ service. The gap sharply increases after their first year of service, i.e. their level of satisfaction drops sharply after one year and then again after more than five years’ service

Length of service related positivity then begins to reduce the gap back up to the 30+ years’ service mark.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 Brigade service/risk environment.

Volunteer membership of four types of brigade service/risk environment could be nominated by the survey respondents, these being;

  • Rural/predominantly bushfire risk profile.
  • Urban/predominantly structural risk profile.
  • Integrated volunteer/career.
  • Coast guard brigade.

Only one survey response was received from a coast guard brigade member, therefore this response has little impact on the brigade service environment analysis.

The integrated volunteer/career survey responses consistently scored lower on importance and more so on performance. Integrated brigades scored poorly on performance in relation to workplace bullying, conflict resolution, volunteer consultation, morale and supporting new volunteers. These particular statistical results point to ongoing issues within integrated brigades that require specific attention.

When the nominated brigade service/risk environment responses are tested against performance scores for the survey themes, the results generally show (for five of the seven themes) that brigades with a predominantly rural/bushfire risk rate CFA performance more highly and integrated volunteer/career brigade rate CFA performance the lowest. The only two variations in this trend are where all three brigade service/risk environments rate training performance very closely (6.0, 5.9 and 6.0) and where urban/predominantly structural risk brigades rate recruitment and retention performance higher.

The most marked variation in performance scores between brigade service/risk environments is in the ‘people management – my brigade’ theme where volunteers in integrated volunteer/career brigades rated performance 1.2 below urban/structural risk and 1.4 below rural/bushfire risk types.

The survey performance scores by brigade service/risk environment are reflected in some of the written survey comments, where volunteers feel that the treatment they receive and the relationship they have with career staff are not as good as they should be.

The survey results suggest that further work in understanding the specific issues facing integrated volunteer/career brigades is required in order to improve working relationships between CFA volunteers and CFA career staff.

Reason for being a volunteer.

Survey respondents are asked to select their main reason for being a CFA volunteer from six listed options.

Slightly more than half the survey respondents (52%) nominated “to help protect the community I live in” as their main reason, whilst a considerable proportion (42%) nominated “a sense of fulfilment in supporting my community in a meaningful way” as their main reason.

These results are highly aligned to the 2013 survey results, where 50% of respondents nominated “to help protect the community I live in” as their main reason and 44% nominated “a sense of fulfilment in supporting my community in a meaningful way”.

The other four options for both the 2013 and 2014 survey results rated very low by comparison, (4% combined in 2013 and 6% combined in 2014).

When compared to satisfaction levels against the statement “I would recommend being a CFA volunteer to people I know” these results suggest that volunteers play an important part in recruitment, as they are highly motivated by their volunteer experience and keen to see others enjoy the same experience.

 

Awareness of VFBV.

The number of respondents with reasonably high awareness of VFBV had grown from 71% to 76% compared to last year. There are still many volunteers with either low or only moderate awareness of VFBV, so this is an area for continued attention.

The comments received suggest that many volunteers feel a low awareness of VFBV or being aware of the VFBV overall but not feeling a good enough understanding of what VFBV does. Also, how processes work or how they easily access information on particular issues.

Consistent with previous years there is a diverse spectrum of comments regarding whether VFBV should be more forthright in representing volunteers through to some thinking VFBV is too assertive. Comments describing a tension between pursuing a fair go for volunteers and maintaining harmony, particularly regarding issues where CFA workforce culture, arrangements and industrial agreements impact on areas that also directly affect volunteers.

There are also a mix of comments regarding how VFBV should work as a close partner with CFA and Government versus VFBV needing to be more independent and more publically critical of policy and direction that is not good for volunteers.

Comments reinforce the desire of volunteers to have a grass roots connected, well organised, well-resourced volunteer voice but at the same time a strong concern that the funding of such a voice must not erode VFBV’s independence and objectivity.

There are many comments recognising improvements in VFBV engagement and visibility amongst volunteers and also many comments asking VFBV to communicate achievements more broadly and increase the profile of VFBV at brigade level.

A number of comments express a frustration that VFBV is not vocal enough in the public and media debate complaining of the absence of a strong CFA leadership voice. VFBV needs to do more to educate the community about the importance of CFA volunteers and to defend the reputation of volunteers, when it is put down by interest groups with particular agendas.

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The 2014 survey scores for importance against specific statements in the ‘people management – my brigade’ theme scored equal highest against statement scores across the survey.

The statement “Workplace bullying is not tolerated in the brigades that I have been a member of” scored 9.2 for importance in the 2014 survey, consistent with the score of 9.3 received in 2013. The statement “the environment at my brigade is volunteer friendly, welcoming to new members and creates good morale” scored 9.1 for importance in the 2014 and 2013 surveys.

These scores are supported by written comments received from respondents that relate to their own brigades, with comments relating to a high level of importance amongst volunteers for a safe and welcoming brigade environment, free of bullying or other forms of harassment.

In the written comments, there is a common and substantial concern raised about bullying and harassment, and the poor level of response and support for resolving conflict when it does occur.

One interpretation of the spread and the tone of the commentary could be that when things are going well there is generally a high degree of satisfaction.

However, when there are problems in particular brigades or locations, these have a specific impact on the people involved and are generally not managed as well as they should be.

The comments are consistent with written survey responses to statement fourteen, suggesting that some brigades need more support in this area.

Comments also suggest that there are ‘cliques’, instances of ‘them and us’, ‘clubs’ and other cultural elements that negatively impact on volunteers generally as well as impacting on teamwork and the effective utilisation of many willing volunteers.

There are several comments suggesting conflict situations, problem individuals (both paid and volunteer) and problem cultural elements are not dealt with as quickly as they should be.

There is also a concerning trend suggesting that people are discouraged from speaking out and a repeating concern that officers responsible for dealing with conflict are not objective. A theme recurring through many responses is the need for better leadership development and a more effective process for dealing with conflict resolution that includes a safeguard against subjectivity (described as favouritism by some).

The commentary suggests that when things are working well (which is the predominant assessment across the survey) service as a CFA volunteer is reasonably comfortable, but when conflict escalates, the current approach does not cope as well as volunteers expect it to, leaving issues to escalate and cause long term impacts.

Some of the comments suggest a desire for CFA leadership and support staff to take a more active role when conflict resolution is required. Several comments seek a mechanism whereby VFBV or some other independent organisation can ensure reasonable protocols are in place and that appropriate support is provided to individuals in conflict or bullying situations.

Survey performance scores have dropped slightly from 2013, resulting in a gap score of 1.7. This theme is one of only two to see an increase in gap from 2013 to 2014 (respect and professionalism being the other theme with an increased gap).

West and South West Regions have lower gap scores than other Regions. Further analysis of the factors influencing these results may reveal more valuable information.

 

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2014 survey result scores for importance in this theme produced the equal highest score for a single statement, that being “there are no barriers to the roles women can occupy in my brigade”, scoring 9.2. This is consistent with the same statement scoring the highest performance score in 2013 (9.3) and demonstrates how highly survey respondents value diversity within their brigades.

Following closely behind this score in the same theme is the statement “people from all cultural backgrounds, different religious, political and personal beliefs are all made welcome at my brigade”, which scored 9.1 on importance and 8.2 on performance.

The recruitment and retention theme received a comparatively small number of written comments as compared to other themes.

Of the negative comments received, there were several around CFA’s need to improve the respect for and treatment of females and that there are still pockets of unacceptable behaviour towards females. These comments support the high importance placed on gender equity in the survey scores.

There were comments acknowledging CFA’s ability to recruit, including younger members and people from more diverse backgrounds and roles however, a frustration exists in that training can be difficult to access or not matched to an individual’s progression in CFA, resulting in keen volunteers not staying or not being utilised.

The most common underlying factor present across most of the negative comments, is a frustration with CFA training, which leads to a negative force jeopardising volunteer retention. Ongoing issues with the difficulties associated with getting onto courses, the flexibility in recognising prior learning beyond the prescriptive CFA training and poor course organisation, were all mentioned.

Some comments expressed an opinion that the culture within CFA paid personnel is not volunteer focussed, and that an ‘us and them’ attitude dominates. One response suggests that CFA needs to incorporate a performance measure relating to volunteer training and retention into CFA staff performance, particularly for staff at integrated brigades.

Other comments suggest that CFA’s senior volunteers should have a stronger focus on mentoring new members. Some comments reflected on the personal experience members had over years of service with CFA and their desire to see future generations benefit from the experience.

2014 survey result scores for importance and performance in the ‘recruitment and retention’ theme produced the smallest gap across all seven survey themes. A gradual increase in performance against a consistent importance score over the past three years has continued to decrease the gap. The gap between importance and performance scores across all five Regions varies only slightly (0.3), and are the closest gap scores Region by Region for the seven survey themes.

 

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Within this theme, survey responses for the statement “CFA provides enough training opportunities in formats, at times and at locations that make it easy for me to participate” have generated the largest gap for the 2014 survey, consistent with having the second largest gap in 2013.

This same statement also received the lowest performance score for any survey statement in 2014 and second lowest score in 2013. The respondents scoring against this statement clearly indicates an ongoing dissatisfaction with the current level of service received from CFA in respect to training.

While written comments for other themes in the survey are brief and sometimes quite individual, the commentary for ‘training by CFA’ is detailed and focussed on common recurring concerns.

These recurring comments refer to a lack of training availability and opportunity, with negative comments on the frequency and timing of courses. Some comments refer to unsuitable training formats and a lack of access to specific training requirements outside of the standard operational training packages, such as leadership training and conflict resolution training.

Written comments also refer to the time taken between attaining qualification and receiving the personal protective equipment required to turn out, once qualified.

Survey responses express this as creating a frustration in volunteers who have made time available to train but are then unable to utilise their training and support their brigade.

These written comments in the training theme are reflective of responses under other themes relating to sense of worth, recognition and treatment of volunteers.

Of the written comments received, few were positive. One of the positive comments reflected an appreciation of the size of the training tasks in CFA and suggested that volunteers and brigades could be more proactive in identifying solutions.

An improvement in performance scores against a stable importance score has seen the gap decrease over the past three years. The biggest influence underpinning this improvement is in the area of leadership training for volunteers, people management and conflict resolution and mentoring.

The difference between gap scores Region by Region for this theme are greater than any other.

South West Region’s positive performance and markedly smaller gap in relation to training may warrant further investigation to determine what is contributing to the success.

 

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This theme, more than any other, has generated survey responses relating to specific brigade or individual member issues. Issues raised, include the lack of CFA support for the resolution of management issues at brigade level, a high level of CFA staff turnover at Region and District level impacting on support to brigades and budget cuts impacting on resources for volunteers.

Survey comments for this theme are consistent with previous themes in relation to perceived differences in the level of support provided by CFA to paid and volunteer members, and the general feeling that CFA volunteers are being treated as ‘second class’.

Other notable survey respondent comments include a desire to see more CFA staff working in support of brigades rather than in CFA headquarters on projects, a concern regarding the lack of training for volunteers in administrative roles, and a number of comments that CFA is too focussed on the metropolitan area and not providing sufficient support to regional Victoria brigades.

Whilst performance has improved over the past three years (6.4 to 7.0) resulting in a smaller gap, importance has remained consistently high, reinforcing the fact that support from CFA remains a high priority for volunteers.

The gap improvement from 2.5 to 2.0 is driven by improved performance across all statements within the themes. Statement performance scores all improved between 0.2 and 0.7 in 2014 as compared to the 2013 results.

The statement “CFA paid personnel in my local brigade/district area are committed to supporting and empowering volunteers” improved in performance score by 0.7 from 2013 to 2014 – the equal highest statement performance improvement in the 2014 survey.

There are minor variations in the Region scores as compared to other themes. As previously discussed in the Cooperation theme observations for Regions, further analysis of the factors influencing these results may reveal more valuable information.

 

 

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Tuesday, 21 April 2015 00:00

2014 VFBV Volunteer Survey - Cooperation

Within the Cooperation theme, the poorest performing aspect relates to how volunteers feel about the way they are consulted and involved in decision making at the CFA corporate level.

Despite improvements in the performances scores for all four statements in this theme in 2014, scores for this theme are generally low for both 2013 and 2014 results as compared to the rest of the survey.

The statement “volunteers are effectively consulted and involved in decision making at CFA Corporate level” had the lowest performance score of the survey in 2013 and created the largest gap, however the gap score against this statement has improved. In 2014 this statement ranked second lowest in performance scores and had the second largest gap score, therefore is still an issue of concern for volunteers and should be an equal issue of concern for CFA.

It is important to note however, this aspect also shows the best improvement since the 2012 survey, indicating that whilst volunteers still feel there is a lot more to be done – things are improving.

The survey results confirm volunteers place a high value on being consulted and involved in decision making at all levels of CFA and expect CFA to perform well in this area. Volunteers’ place a very high importance on all CFA people (volunteer and paid staff at all organisational levels) working cooperatively towards shared goals.

The written survey responses in this theme discuss issues relating to perceptions of volunteer poor treatment and lack of respect from paid CFA staff. A common theme is about CFA staff attitude to volunteers on integrated stations, and in some cases the conduct of Operations Officers in the field. Negative comments are also made in regard to CFA management’s lack of connection with volunteers.

Some survey responses also refer to an established ‘them and us’ culture amongst CFA paid staff and volunteers, manifesting in the service and treatment of paid staff at major incidents as compared to volunteers.

A significant improvement in the performance score over the past three years has seen the gap reduce from 3.2 to 2.5. This improvement is mainly influenced by the decrease in the 2014 gap scores for the statements “volunteers are effectively consulted and involved in decision making at CFA corporate level” and “CFA’s workforce arrangements allow the paid staff and volunteers to work cooperatively as a team”.

Survey result variations between Regions show West and North East Region gap scoring less than the other Regions, it would be insightful to explore the factors or initiatives underpinning this result.

 

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For 2014, the largest individual survey question gaps for this theme appear against the statements “CFA recognises and utilises the skills and experience that I bring to CFA” and “CFA proactively provide opportunities for me to progress and develop my skills to more senior/diverse roles as part of an individual volunteer career pathway”.

This is consistent with the survey results generally poor performance in the survey questions relating to CFA training (see Training by CFA).

The survey comments are along similar themes to respect and professionalism, with a focus on low levels of support to volunteers, the desire for recognition and appreciation, and comments on poor treatment by CFA paid staff.

The increasing non-operational workload for volunteers continues to be an issue, with a number of survey responses citing the increasingly unsustainable workload around meeting attendance and participation in CFA projects.

These comments include statements that volunteer activity outside the traditional response activity, is not adequately recognised and supported by CFA.

Survey comments indicate that undertaking strike team activity as an emergency response and then spending considerable time on scene waiting to be tasked, continues to frustrate volunteers who then feel, that the limited time they have available to volunteer, is not being effectively used by CFA.

In some cases, these comments are followed by a statement that the problems are repeated year after year and if not fixed, the volunteer will not attend strike teams in the future and only support local brigade call outs.

Some of the positive comments relating to this theme were that respondents enjoy being a volunteer member of CFA and state, how joining a volunteer brigade ‘was the best thing they ever did’. These positive comments cover both male and female respondents and include statements from both new and long serving members.

The 2014 survey results indicate that volunteers think CFA could do better with regard to recognition of the skills and experience volunteers bring to CFA. The results also suggest volunteers believe that CFA could improve its efforts in developing volunteer skills and providing individual volunteer pathways across the diverse roles required in CFA.

Overall performance in this theme has improved slightly over the past three years. Respondents indicate that the statements listed in the survey are growing in importance and pleasingly also reported a sense that things have improved since the 2012 survey.

As discussed in Respect and Professionalism, initial Regional variations in the former eight Region model showed variation between outer metropolitan Regions and other Regions.

Regional gap variations across the theme are similar in range to the previous theme, with gaps ranging from 1.9 to 2.1 in the more urbanised Regions as compared to 1.6 to 1.7 in the less urbanised Regions.

 

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Tuesday, 21 April 2015 00:00

2014 VFBV Volunteer Survey - Conclusion

The 2014 VFBV Volunteer Welfare and Efficiency Survey results have provided valuable information direct from CFA volunteers which is vital to informing the emergency management sector on what volunteers need to remain viable and valuable contributors to community safety.

Key observations from the survey results that may warrant further investigation and possible actions include the following.

Training needs and expectations.

The 2014 survey results identify training by CFA as the biggest issue, with the survey gap at 3.0. This remains the most important issue for CFA volunteers and the issue least meeting volunteer expectations.

Variation between brigades.

Brigades with an integrated volunteer/career mix of personnel are more concerned with performance in relation to people management within their brigade, cooperation, respect and professionalism.

Equity, diversity and workplace behaviour.

Survey results show that equity and diversity across gender, race and religion are important issues to volunteers. When tested against gender – female respondents rated both importance and performance lower than male respondents in relation to the statement “there are no barriers to the roles women can occupy in my brigade”, and the gap between importance and performance for female respondents was higher than male, signalling that male respondents are more optimistic about how gender, equity and diversity issues are being managed and may not realise areas of deficiency. Whilst CFA performance in this area is scored comparatively well against other areas, it remains an area that will require ongoing support.

The importance of consultation with brigades.

The value volunteers place on consultation both within their own brigade and with CFA, is expressed in the survey results where statements referring to consultation within brigades receive good performance scores whilst conversely, statements regarding effective consultation at CFA District, Region or Corporate level, receive the lowest performance scores and high gaps.

Written comments from survey respondents refer to issues where inadequate consultation may be the root cause, further suggesting that more work is required to improve consultation between CFA and volunteers.

The influence of volunteer length of service.

Volunteer length of service has created a distinct pattern across the question responses. Volunteers who have served with CFA for less than one year are the most positive about the organisation and their brigade on nearly every question. The gap sharply increases after their first year of service, i.e. their level of satisfaction drops sharply after one year and then again after more than five years’ service.

This warrants further investigation to determine the causes of the change in expectation.

Satisfaction.

80% of 2014 survey respondents are satisfied with their role as a CFA volunteer and 87% intend to continue their membership. The overwhelming reasons for being a CFA volunteer are “to help protect the community I live in” or “a sense of fulfilment in supporting my community in a meaningful way” (total 94%).

Only 59% of volunteers are satisfied with the way they are treated by CFA, this comparatively low satisfaction score suggests that the greatest potential impact on future volunteer welfare and efficiency sits with CFA in the success or otherwise of their partnerships with volunteer brigades.

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Tuesday, 21 April 2015 00:00

2014 VFBV Volunteer Survey - Observations

Strengths.

 In 2014, the ‘top three’ smallest gaps (i.e. highest satisfaction levels) between importance and performance, were for the survey statements listed above. When compared against importance scores for statements, the equal highest importance score was against the statement “there are no barriers to the roles women can perform in my brigade”.

For the performance scores, the two highest scores were against the statements “there are no barriers to the roles women can perform in my brigade” and “people from all cultural backgrounds, different religious, political and personal beliefs are all made welcome at my brigade”. 

This is consistent with 2013 survey results where the same questions scored highly in importance and performance, as well as having small gaps.

Written comments from respondents support the overall CFA approach to encouraging diversity and addressing poor workplace behaviour, but some of the comments refer to ongoing workplace behaviour issues at specific brigades that are being poorly managed or ignored.

The statement “I feel the time I devote to CFA is productive and worthwhile” scores consistently high on importance and performance and records the third smallest gap across the last two surveys. This is reflective of the survey results for volunteer satisfaction with their role in CFA.

 

 
Weaknesses.

In 2014, the ‘top three’ largest gaps (i.e. lowest satisfaction levels) between importance and performance, were for the survey statements listed above.

The largest gap between importance and performance for a single statement was a score of 3.0 for the statement “CFA provides enough training opportunities in formats, at times and locations that make it easy for me to participate”. This is consistent with 2013 survey results for the same statement having the largest gap and low satisfaction levels.

The two statements considered as the worst performing by 2014 survey respondents were “CFA provides enough training opportunities in formats, at times and locations that make it easy for me to participate” and “volunteers are effectively consulted and involved in decision making at CFA corporate level”. Both statements scored below 6 for performance, the only two to do so in 2014.

The biggest improvement in gap, between importance and performance for a statement from 2013 to 2014 survey results, was the decrease in gap for the statement “volunteers are effectively consulted and involved in decision making at CFA corporate level”.

Whilst this may be seen as a positive, this is the only statement to score below 5 in importance in 2013 and the improvement to a score of 5.8 in 2014, the improvement is coming from a very low base and remains an issue for volunteers.

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To take part in the 2015 VFBV Volunteer Survey, send your name, Brigade and email address to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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The first survey in 2012 attracted responses from 805 CFA volunteers. Subsequent surveys using the same format have seen the survey result increase to 1,652 volunteer responses in 2014.


Given the high number of survey responses against the number of CFA volunteers, this represents a very robust sample of the views of CFA volunteers and can be treated as a ‘statistically significant’ response.


Sample size calculators indicate that 1,652 valid survey responses from a CFA volunteer ‘population’ of 60,000 provides a 95% level of confidence (getting the right answer 95 times out of 100) in the survey results, as representing the views of CFA volunteers.


Previous survey analysis for VFBV by Dawson McDonald demonstrated the statistical significance of the survey results against well-known Australian surveys. The VFBV survey results in 2013 achieved a 95% confidence level with a confidence interval of +/- 2.6%, considerably greater than many national surveys.

Confidence interval comparison table - VFBV 2013 Volunteer Welfare and Efficiency report.

Survey respondents were given the option of responding anonymously or leaving their email address if they wished to be kept informed on progress with the survey results. This ensured that the survey respondents could provide their honest and open opinions in their written responses to the survey statements.


For security purposes, all online survey responses are entered into a securely encrypted electronic survey record system. All physical survey responses are also entered into the online system and destroyed once the data is recorded.

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Notes on Data Collection

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The VFBV Volunteer Welfare and Efficiency Survey was from the outset, designed and detailed by CFA volunteers.

In 2012, with the assistance of a professional survey development consultancy, VFBV workshopped with volunteers from across Victoria, to identify key issues considered to be the key factors underpinning their welfare and efficiency. Key recurring themes emerging from the workshop with this group were then used to construct the survey.

The survey consists of 33 statements addressing the welfare and efficiency of CFA volunteers. Survey respondents are asked to score each statement twice: firstly on how important it is for the statement to be true and secondly, how they perceive performance against that statement. Scores are applied to a 0 – 10 sliding scale where for importance, 0 is ‘not at all important’ and 10 is ‘very important – and in the case of performance, 0 is ‘strongly disagree’ and 10 is ‘strongly agree’.

Scores for importance are regarded as the expectations of CFA volunteers. Where scores for performance are lower than those for importance, the result suggests that expectations are not being met. The difference between importance and performance in the survey results for each question is referred to as the gap.

The chart below indicates a typical survey response against a given statement, where the total number of responses to the statement produce an average gap between importance and performance (in this case ‘2’).

 


The 33 survey statements are grouped into seven themes for analysis of the results. Statements are randomly listed in the survey to avoid leading the results. The results are then re grouped under seven themes for analysis purposes.

The seven survey analysis themes are:

  • Respect and professionalism
  • My role as a volunteer
  • Cooperation
  • Support from CFA
  • Training by CFA
  • Recruitment and retention
  • People management – my brigade

The survey design allows each theme to be explored for variations between respondents, including brigade service/risk environment (rural, urban or integrated), gender, volunteer age and length of service.

The results can also be analysed from Region to Region, with CFA’s Regional structure allowing for the identification of examples of good practice or conversely, areas where a lacking performance needs most attention.

Whilst the survey collects quantitative data that is easily expressed in results that measure importance, performance and gap, the survey also provides the respondent the opportunity to reply to any of the statements with their own thoughts and opinions.

In this way the survey also collects some qualitative data than can be used to gain insight into what sits behind the numerical results.

With survey results from the past three years, VFBV is now able to observe trends over time.

Recently, further work has also been undertaken with the assistance of university researchers with expertise in quantitative survey analysis to drill down into the survey results and explore specific demographic trends or patterns that emerge.

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Notes on Data Integrity

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The Country Fire Authority (CFA) is a community and volunteer based emergency service, consisting of 60,000 volunteers and 1,300 paid operational and support staff. CFA Brigades protect 60% of suburban Melbourne, regional cities and all of country Victoria every day and night of the year.

CFA’s volunteer based resource model is the only approach capable of economically and practically dealing with the quantum, scale, spread and simultaneous occurrence of fire and other emergencies experienced in Victoria while still providing day to day emergency response.

CFA’s unique integrated volunteer and career staff operating model is fundamental to the surge capacity required to deal with large scale incidents while still providing professional standards of emergency response in Brigade service areas across the state.

The CFA volunteers’ contribution to the community is incalculable – the value of their labour alone is estimated at one billion dollars a year, without considering the replacement cost of their expertise, local knowledge, fundraising, leadership and the substantial losses that would be suffered through fires and other emergencies if the volunteers were not there.

CFA volunteers work at all levels of emergency response, from the frontline crews, through experienced volunteers in specialist and support roles, to the highest of senior incident management roles.

The need for that resource of trained, experienced volunteers is growing. Already one of the most wildfire prone areas in the world, Victoria faces the twin challenges of a rapidly growing population and increased urbanisation within an expanding metropolitan Melbourne and regional cities.

In 2012, the Victorian Parliament unanimously supported changes to the CFA Act to enshrine the requirements for volunteer support and recognition in legislation. 

These important changes recognise that CFA is first and foremost a volunteer-based organisation, in which volunteer officers and members are supported by career staff in a fully integrated manner.

Sections 6G, 6H and 6I of the CFA Act also reinforce the requirement for Government and CFA to encourage, maintain and strengthen the capacity of volunteers to provide the Authority's services, and to consult with VFBV on all matters which may impact upon volunteers.

Volunteer Fire Brigades Victoria (VFBV) is the voice of CFA Volunteers. It is established under Victorian law, the Country Fire Authority Act, to represent the volunteers on all matters that affect their welfare and efficiency.

As an organisation made up of the CFA volunteers it represents, VFBV works in partnership with the State Government, Emergency Management Victoria, the CFA Board and Management, Members of Parliament, official inquiries, municipal councils and instrumentalities, business and the public to proactively shape the future of emergency management.

VFBV is active in partnering with Government and emergency management agencies to ensure that volunteers remain actively involved in emergency management decision making at every level; through day to day practical work in VFBV/CFA Joint Committees, through the Ministerial level Volunteer Consultative Forum, and in working to ensure positive, practical results from reviews such as the Jones Inquiry and the Victorian Auditor General’s Office (VAGO) report on Managing Emergency Services Volunteers.

The VFBV Volunteer Welfare and Efficiency Survey takes this important work another step forward, by addressing a significant gap in the information available to the state’s decision makers.

The VFBV Volunteer Welfare and Efficiency Survey, now in its third year, is designed to better understand the issues as volunteers see them, and is used by VFBV to bring the frontline volunteers’ opinions and advice on matters affecting their welfare and efficiency directly to the state’s decision makers.

The purpose of the VFBV Volunteer Welfare and Efficiency Survey is to ensure that volunteers’ needs and expectations are sought, analysed and available to Government and CFA so the very foundation of this volunteer-based emergency service continues to be recognised and supported to meet the future emergency services needs of the Victorian community.

The VFBV Volunteer Welfare and Efficiency Survey presents an opportunity for Government and CFA to embed performance measures linked to volunteer welfare and efficiency into CFA organisational, departmental and individual work plans, to the benefit of the Victorian community.

Because volunteers are fundamental to Victoria’s emergency management capability, fundamental to community resilience and at the core of communities sharing responsibility for their own safety, it is vitally important to measure and deeply understand how satisfied volunteers are with arrangements in place to support, encourage and enable them to do their work.

If the CFA and State Government wish to retain what is a highly valuable volunteer fire service, the expectations of volunteers, identified by them through this survey, need to be understood and acted upon. A commitment must be made by CFA, VFBV and State Government to meet or exceed the expectations of volunteers on all 33 items. This is fundamental to ensuring the welfare and efficiency of volunteers and their continuing availability as an unpaid emergency service.

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Notes on Data Collection

Notes on Data Integrity

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Observations from the survey results that may warrant further investigation and possible actions include the following:

  1. Training needs and expectations.

 The 2014 survey results identify training by CFA as the biggest issue, with the survey gap at 3.0. This remains the most important issue for CFA volunteers and the issue least meeting volunteer expectations.

  1. Variation between brigades.

Brigades with an integrated volunteer/career mix of personnel are more concerned with performance in relation to people management within their brigade, cooperation and respect and professionalism. Survey comments point to ongoing issues at integrated brigades that require further attention.

The integrated volunteer/career survey responses consistently scored lower on importance and more so on performance. Integrated brigades scored poorly on performance in relation to workplace bullying, conflict resolution, volunteer consultation, morale and supporting new volunteers. These particular statistical results point to ongoing issues within integrated brigades that require specific attention.

  1. Equity, diversity and workplace behaviour.

Survey results show that equity and diversity across gender, race and religion are important issues to volunteers. Generally, female survey respondents rated CFA respect, professionalism, volunteer support and brigade support more highly than males across both importance and performance. The differences occur when the questions relate to CFA’s performance in conflict resolution, bullying and harassment, in which case, females rate the management of such issues lower than males.

When tested against gender – female respondents rated both importance and performance lower than male respondents in relation to the statement “there are no barriers to the roles women can occupy in my brigade”. The gap between importance and performance for female respondents was higher than male, signalling that male respondents are more optimistic about how gender, equity and diversity issues are being managed and may not realise areas of deficient approach.

Whilst CFA performance in this area is scored comparatively well against other areas, it remains an area that shows that a gender perception gap still exists in brigades and will require ongoing support.

  1. The importance of consultation with brigades.

The value volunteers place on consultation both within their own brigade and with CFA is expressed in the survey results where statements referring to consultation within brigades receive good performance scores. Conversely, statements regarding effective consultation at CFA District, Region or Corporate level, receive the lowest performance scores and high gaps.

Written comments from survey respondents refer to issues where inadequate consultation may be the root cause, further suggesting that more work is required to improve consultation between CFA and volunteers.

  1. The influence of volunteer length of service.

Volunteer length of service has created a distinct pattern across the question responses. Volunteers who have served with CFA for less than one year are the most positive about the organisation and their brigade on nearly every question. The gap sharply increases after their first year of service, i.e. their level of satisfaction drops sharply after one year and then again after more than five years’ service.

  1. Satisfaction.

80% of 2014 survey respondents are satisfied with their role as a CFA volunteer and 87% intend to continue their membership. The overwhelming reasons for being a CFA volunteer are “to help protect the community I live in” or “a sense of fulfilment in supporting my community in a meaningful way” (total 94%).

Only 59% of volunteers are satisfied with the way they are treated by CFA, this comparatively low satisfaction score suggests that the greatest potential impact on future volunteer welfare and efficiency sits with CFA in the success or otherwise of their partnerships with volunteer brigades.

  1. Overall.

Overall results across the survey themes (see the graph to the right) show the greatest gaps to be in the training and cooperation themes, and the smallest gap in the recruitment and retention theme. Specific responses within each theme are explained in greater detail in the body of this report.

The analysis of the survey results shows that there are still differences of opinion between genders as to how women are treated in CFA, between volunteer and integrated brigades on how CFA staff treat volunteers, and difference of opinion on how well CFA is performing depending upon how long the volunteer has known CFA.

These differences point to an ongoing need for CFA to improve its culture. The attitudes and norms across CFA need to become more inclusive and more respectful – in terms of volunteer value to the organisation.

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This report provides comment and detail on matters considered to be important to CFA Volunteers' welfare and efficiency, as measured through the Volunteer Fire Brigades Victoria (VFBV) Volunteer Welfare and Efficiency Survey.

The report uses survey data provided by a series of statements rated by volunteers for importance and performance. The report also uses information gathered from written response comments against the survey statements.

Observations against the 2014 survey results are presented by survey theme, with comments on both the survey scores and the written comments received.

As with the previous two years, survey data is collated and analysed for trends, outliers and exceptions that guide us to particular issues warranting further analysis. The survey results are compared against demographic profiles that include gender, age, length of time as a volunteer and brigade type.

The survey data is also compared to previous years' results to determine if changes have occurred and whether reasons for these changes can be identified.

Click on the links below to see each of the detailed sections of the 2014 VFBV Volunteer Welfare & Efficiency Survey report;

The 2015 survey will open in July - you can sign up to take the online survey here or request a paper copy of the survey by calling (03) 9886 1141.  Your comments will be confidential.

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To all participants in the 2014 VFBV Volunteer Welfare and Efficiency Survey, thank you for taking part.

The Survey Report is available for download at the bottom of this page (Note: the top of the first page is white - if it looks blank on your screen, scroll down a little).

Now in its third year, this survey continues to grow in importance as it captures trends in CFA volunteers’ opinions on matters affecting their welfare and efficiency.

VFBV and the CFA Board have both studied past years' results and will use the survey to highlight aspects of volunteer support that need attention.

The survey would not have been possible without the support of CFA volunteers, in particular the 1,652 – another record number - who participated in 2014.

Please consider the trends revealed in the survey report and encourage your fellow volunteers to do the same. Printed copies are available by mail if you need them, call (03) 9886 1141.

Please also encourage the volunteers around you to sign up for the next VFBV volunteer survey, by emailing their name and Brigade to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or calling (03) 9886 1141 if they would like the paper version of the survey posted to them.

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Tuesday, 20 January 2015 00:00

BUSHFIRE ASSISTANCE FOR COUNCILS

The State and Federal Governments have announced additional assistance to local councils in areas affected by bushfires in December 2014 and January 2015.

The councils include; Ararat, Benalla, Hindmarsh, Horsham, Mildura, Moira, Southern Grampians, Strathbogie, Wangaratta, West Wimmera and Wodonga.

For details, see the State Government’s media release at http://www.premier.vic.gov.au/additional-disaster-assistance-for-victorian-bushfires

Published in VFBV News

Issue 11: December 2014

Quick snapshot of the priority issues and actions worked through at the most recent Joint Committee meeting between CFA and VFBV. (Meeting held Saturday 29/11/14)

LISTENING SETS

With the recent release of EMV’s Long Term Communications Plan (LTCP), CFA have had to reassess the technical specifications of Listening Sets. The LTCP articulates the State’s operational communications vision for the sector and a high level plan to progressively move towards that vision from as early as 2017.

The complication arising out of this long term plan is the requirement for agencies to move towards P25 Phase 2 digital radio comms in the future. The current CFA digital network is P25 Phase 1, and CFA have advised that should CFA or other agencies move to Phase 2 in the future, then listening sets only capable of Phase 1 will not be able to pick up Phase 2 radio traffic. CFA has requested the committee to endorse a second round of expression of interest from manufacturers to see if a listening set capable of Phase 1 and Phase 2 is available, or able to be mass produced.

The issue confronting the committee is if CFA rolls out a listening set which members have to contribute money to, and which is only compatible with the current network, we will be back to where we are now with having to replace listening sets should the State move to Phase 2. With news that the preferred manufacturer could not mass produce the chosen Phase 1 listening set before Christmas anyway, the committee has agreed to CFA’s request to run an expedited EOI process over the Christmas and New Year period, providing the process does not exceed 6 weeks, and that CFA commits to then expedite results and a decision from that process early in the new year.

The committee has again communicated to CFA the urgency being communicated by our members and the need to choose and roll out listening sets ASAP. CFA has committed to working with the committee out of session in order to ensure there are no further delays. Updates will be provided early in the New Year to update members on progress.

WEB STREAMING

Web Streaming is an option for members who don’t want to use a listening set, but would prefer to “stream” radio comms via their computer, smart phone or tablet. It is an electronic method of listening in on CFA radio channels, similar to how a listening set operates, but without the need for special hardware, or an upfront cost.

The committee was advised that attempts by CFA to develop an in house app for radio streaming has not been successful. The committee has now endorsed moving to an external “streaming” provider. A preferred supplier has been chosen, and is being trailed over the next few weeks with CFA advice that it should be able to roll out the service shortly.

Members need to be aware that this service will consume bandwidth, and those accessing via their mobile phones or tablets need to be aware of the consumption. The committee has requested CFA publish streaming rates and estimated data use per hour to ensure people can factor that into their decision to use the service.        CFA will also provide “beeps” at intervals to remind people they are still streaming – even though no voice traffic may be present on the network to assist members monitor their bandwidth usage.

PAGER CRADLES

CFA have advised there has now been some progress with a small number of visual and high volume alerting cradles being trialled for members who work in noisy environments. There are limitations to the cradle, and there are initially only 100 units available for trial. Members will provide feedback on their use. If the trial is successful, the committee will advocate for more units to be made available.

 

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 10/08/14)

VOLUNTEER STRATEGY

Work on the Volunteer Strategy is continuing with input from VFBV with VFBV State Council and Board having had several opportunities to input at a broad level. The draft strategy is still being progressed and is likely to be presented to the CFA Board at their September meeting. Work on the strategy will then continue over the next three to six months, with the focus being to road test and discuss the draft strategy with volunteers more broadly and to get volunteer input into what needs to be done to convert the strategy into real results on the ground. The draft strategy should be available for District & Regional level discussions from October onwards.

VOLUNTEER SUPPORT PROGRAM

CFA have advised that twenty new Volunteerism Co-Ordinators, with one located in each District have commenced and their focus is on co-ordinating and implementing District volunteerism initiatives, aligned to state and local priorities. They now join the members from the Wellbeing Pilot and Brigade Sustainability Pilots, to complete the 60 staff employed under the Volunteer Support Project. VFBV has requested clear and concise communications go out to the field to ensure members understand the role and objectives of each of the three pilot programs & how they will interact & coordinate.

The Committee will now be focussing on evaluating the programs and gaining feedback from volunteers in the field. The feedback we are seeking, amongst other things is the effectiveness of the tools being developed; how they are introduced to Brigades; the Brigade’s accessibility and line of sight to the 60 support officers/staff; and if they are making a difference out in the field on matters important to Brigades and volunteers. The feedback will be used along the way to help improve the projects and will be used during the pilots final evaluation early next year.

With each of these three projects having different roles and reporting streams, it is important that Brigades understand what is available for them and how they access each. If you are unsure what the projects are, or require assistance from any of them, contact your Operations Manager/Officer who has been briefed on the role and function of each stream.

VOLUNTEER SUPPORT PROGRAM - RESOURCES

The Volunteer Support Program is developing and updating many resources and tools for Brigades to use for their benefit. Some of these tools, include attraction, recruitment and retention guides, customisable promotional products, volunteer resources catalogue, online Brigade Leadership HUB, F&EM Roles Pathways Map and an online CFA apparel shop, to name just a few.

VFBV support and encourage these initiatives but also seek to ensure these useful tools and resources are informed by the field, and not developed in isolation. Formal VFBV consultative forums are an important link for the project teams to engage and seek feedback from brigades, and provide opportunities for volunteers to test and review the tools before they are published for accuracy, relevance and ease of use. The Committee believes this is an area that could be improved, as feedback from Brigades is important to ensure that the correct tools, with the correct information are being developed for what Brigades need. The Committee looks forward to greater engagement on these products in the future.

VOLUNTEER SURVEY RESULTS

The VFBV Welfare & Efficiency Survey and CFA’s Volunteer Survey have both been completed, with a combined total of over 4,000 responses. Results from both surveys will be available shortly. The Committee has requested that CFA formulate an action plan to address any areas of weakness, and to promote and build upon any identified strengths.

Published in Volunteerism Committee

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 10/08/14)

PHASED BA COMPETENCY ENDORSED BY CHIEF OFFICER

After long delays, the Committee has been advised that the Chief Officer has now endorsed the proposal for phased Breathing Apparatus (BA) competencies. Essentially, this means that there will now be two levels of BA training & competency. Level 1 will be for training on BA for external fire attack such as car fires, bin fires and haystacks. Level 2 will incorporate search and rescue aspects and internal structural attack scenarios. Work is now underway to establish suitable BA training and assessment packages and processes. A pilot is also underway in District 13 to trial different helmet markings that will be used to denote the two different levels of BA competency a member holds.

DRIVER TRAINING / HEAVY VEHICLE LICENCE TESTING

Work continues on the selection of approved licence testing providers for CFA members to attain heavy vehicle licenses. CFA is currently negotiating with VicRoads as to exemptions to cover training aspects which are delivered internal to CFA members being recognized by VicRoads for license testing purposes, such as the “Drive Operation Vehicles” package. VFBV has also requested CFA review the budgetary arrangements and District inconsistencies with members getting access to CFA funded heavy vehicle licence testing. Given the cost of heavy vehicle license testing to an individual can be hundreds of dollars, VFBV has requested CFA review the “one strike and you’re out” policy that is in effect in some Districts, which see volunteers having to pay for any subsequent testing themselves, should they fail their initial assessment. The Committee has requested CFA replace it with a discretionary policy which could review cases on their merits and support members in the attainment of a licence for the benefit of the Brigade.

ELECTRICAL SAFETY AWARENESS – NEW REFERENCE MANUAL

The new Electrical Safety Awareness Reference Manual has now been completed, and is available for ordering through your District Office or through Training Materials Online. The manual provides basic awareness to identify electrical hazards at incidents and how to minimize risk and avoid injury. The manual includes information on solar power.

WORKING WITH LADDERS – NEW REFERENCE MANUAL

Working with Ladders Reference Manual is now available on Training Materials Online. Copies have also been distributed to District Training departments. This reference manual is designed to provide information on the safe use of portable ladders during both operational and non-operational activities.

ATMOSPHERIC MONITORING

The Committee has requested CFA review its training strategy involving atmospheric monitoring equipment. This follows complaints from some members who have been told that they must complete the Monitor Hazardous Atmospheres course in order to use a handheld monitor such as the LD322’s. The Committees view is that there should be a basic awareness package aimed at “operator status” in order for firefighters to easily deploy & use the equipment during incidents, with higher level training for those expected to interpret the readings or results of the monitoring equipment.

WHO CAN TRAIN AND ASSESS?

At the Committee’s request, CFA has agreed to re-establish the CFA Training Ground User Reference Groups. CFA have committed to re-establishing these important groups by 31 December this year to all 8 Training Grounds. The Committee commends this decision and will continue to enthusiastically monitor their progress.

Published in Training Committee

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.

Published in Operations Committee

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)

WELLBEING PILOT EVALUATION

The Wellbeing Pilot Program has been progressively rolled out to CFA Brigades in recent months. Contact with the Wellbeing Field Officers who are able to provide support for issues such as Mental Health concerns and Relationship Issues (which may be related to Interpersonal conflict within a Brigade) can be initiated at a number of points, including individual referral, through the Brigade and CIS Peers. The initiatives being implemented support CFA members to be better able to operate in a psychologically healthy and safe environment and as a result support the ongoing viability of Brigades. Anecdotal feedback to VFBV at this point in time has been positive.

CFA has agreed to the Committees request for it to be actively engaged in the Pilot Program’s evaluation, and delivered upon that commitment with a briefing on how the program is being evaluated. VFBV is keen to ensure that the Pilot Program is developed in a manner that delivers the best results to members and it is important that broad ranging and rigorous evaluation of the program is conducted in an ongoing manner.

Depending on the circumstances of each contact with the Wellbeing Field Officers the evaluation process will have the flexibility to be sensitively undertaken according to the needs and appropriate follow up for each case’s ongoing health and progress. Evaluation will in most instances not be limited to one opportunity to provide feedback as it may be that initially the outcomes of the support from the Wellbeing Field Officers may not be known for some time or that events at a local or personal level may require that implemented strategies are reviewed.

OH&S POLICIES AND PROCEDURES REVIEW

CFA has undertaken a review of many OH&S policies and procedures as a result of recent and ongoing changes in Legislation. The Committee has been provided with draft copies of the changes, and had a productive discussion surrounding the purpose and objectives of the procedures.

Delegates have raised their concerns that many of the organisations OH&S Policies and Procedures are written very much in the context of a CFA Office location, and are extremely difficult to understand within a Brigade context. Given the vast majority of CFA workplaces are in fact Fire Stations, and volunteers operate in a far more complex and dynamic environment than administration offices, the Committee has urged CFA produce far simpler, practical and easier to read guidance for Brigades use.

CFA has agreed to investigate an alternate strategy that would still ensure member and community safety is maintained without Brigades incurring an unnecessarily onerous burden of paperwork and training in procedures that are rarely used and/or are not applicable. An example used by the Committee was the requirement for all locations to conduct a fire drill once a year. There are 1,219 CFA work locations that would find this requirement humorous to say the least.    

VOLUNTEER EQUAL OPPORUNTIY OFFICERS

CFA has advised that they will no longer be supporting the voluntary EEO Officer network that was established in the early 90’s. CFA data indicates that in recent years there have been very few contacts made by members with these Officers, and that training and skill maintenance has been progressively scaled back over the years as the complexity of legislation in this field has increased. CFA feels this role can now be better managed through the Wellbeing Field Officers and specialist support available through the Wellbeing Pilot. The Committee has cautiously accepted the decision, but has raised its concern with the sustainability of a paid only model. Delegates still see value in a voluntary network similar to the CIS Peer Program, which would embed these skills and knowledge within Brigades.

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 09/08/14)

REAR DECK ACCESS HATCHES

The committee has for some time been advocating for easier methods for crews to embark and disembark from the rear working deck on tankers. Issues around access have been exacerbated by CFA’s decision to not accommodate a rear facing ROPS area on new tankers, which necessitates crews having to frequently embark and disembark between trips and protracted incidents where water points are located long distances from the fire line. CFA have advised that the main reason for the phasing out of external ROPS on new truck builds has been due to them not meeting modern day Australian Design Regulations and health and safety concerns raised by Worksafe.

Many years ago, rear deck access hatches (DAH’s) where trialled in some crew cabins, that would allow crews to access the rear deck by a small door at the rear of the main cabin. Whilst feedback from the trial was mixed, they are no longer an alternative due to modern truck cabin designs which has resulted in manufacturers no longer willing to build DAH’s due to fear that they may impact upon the structural integrity of the cabin.

The Committee has strongly advocated the need to address the issue urgently, with CFA Fleet Services agreeing to investigate options and report back. Initial investigations will look at folding stair or ladder adjustments through to the enclosed rear facing modules that mining companies have been using that would provide an enclosed ROPS that would meet Australian Design Regulations. (ADR’s)

MEDIUM TANKER ROAD HANDLING INVESTIGATION

After several reports to the Committee from Brigades using the new Medium Tankers raising concerns about road handling, CFA agreed to commission an independent expert report to test the vehicles road handling. The report has conclusively found not only that the vehicle is safe, but scores quite highly across the board on most of the individual test results.

Prior to the test, CFA wrote to 124 Brigades who have a Medium Tanker, inviting them to provide feedback on the trucks handling. Of those, only 10 Brigades expressed concerns, with most indicating its performance in highway driving. For the purposes of the test, CFA provided a new tanker straight off the production line, as well as two tankers from the two Brigades who had raised the most concern over its handling. All three vehicles were tested using identical scenarios and criteria.

The full results are currently being collated, and will be provided to the Committee shortly. Discussion on the initial analysis of Brigade feedback and the independent test results indicates that driver training needs to be improved, especially considering brigades are usually upgrading from a 20 or 30 year truck, and thus may not fully appreciate the significance of changes. The Committee has requested that CFA review its training materials in order to provide a better comparison between models – and to highlight area’s that Brigades should concentrate on during vehicle changeover training.

BRIGADE OWNED VECHICLE INSURANCE ISSUES

The Committee is strongly advocating for CFA and the CFA Board to modify its Policies on insurance coverage involving Brigade Owned Vehicles. Under current policies, CFA will only provide market value to Brigades whose vehicles are written off on the fire ground. The committee has used four recent examples where this has occurred, and where the CFA response has been completely inadequate. Whilst not necessarily arguing for new for old, the Committee is adamant that the policy must be like for like at a minimum, and CFA must support Brigades to return to status quo after an incident.

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 30/08/14)

2014 Annual Community Safety Forum

This year’s forum was yet again another huge success, with a record 390 members attending, from 185 Brigades.

The Committee reviewed feedback from this year’s participants, with an overwhelming number of responses rating the weekend as exceptional. This is now the fourth year of the Annual Forum, and its continued growth and success is directly attributed to its bottom up design and construct which see’s volunteers actively designing and running the weekend, with vols speaking to vols in the conduct of the majority of plenary and workshop sessions. The Committee congratulates the Volunteer Reference Group on another successful year, and also commends Jamie Devenish, CFA’s Member Engagement Project Manager, for his untiring support and enthusiasm to this annual event.

IFMP AUDIT

In response to the Committees continued calls for reform of the IFMP process, CFA has commissioned an external audit by KPMG, to audit and review the effectiveness of Brigade involvement in IFMP at the municipal level.

The draft report has vindicated the Committees concerns, with its key findings that CFA could better facilitate and improve volunteer and Brigade involvement in the process and address the perceived gaps between the new IFMP process and the former MFPC structure.

The report now provides CFA with substantive data and provides recommendations on how to address the shortfalls. CFA has agreed to reconstitute the IFMP State Committee, and VFBV is looking forward to working with CFA to implement an action plan that will better support and encourage strong Brigade involvement in the IFMP process.

CHANGES TO VICTORIAN PLANNING PROVISIONS (BMO)

The Committee received a detailed briefing on Amendment VC109 which includes significant changes to the bushfire controls contained in the Victorian Planning Provisions. One of the most significant changes has been the modification in some places from CFA being a “determining referral authority” to now only being a “recommending referral authority”. As a recommending referral authority CFA still provides advice in relation to an application, however the local Council is no longer bound to follow CFA’s advice. This is a significant change & will need to be monitored, as under the previous legislation Council was bound to follow CFA’s advice and apply any conditions CFA imposed on an application.

Other changes include alterations to defendable space requirements, provision of acceptable bushfire protection measures, construction standards, and the ability for removal of vegetation within defendable space.

CFA is currently considering the impact of these changes, and are seeking clarification from Department of Transport, Planning & Local Infrastructure who are responsible for the legislation.

CHIEF OFFICERS INTENT STATEMENT: COMMUNITY PREPAREDNESS & FIRE PREVENTION

This year, it has been proposed that the Chief Officer issue an intent statement for this upcoming fire season that sets out his expectations for community preparedness and fire prevention. The statement will provide guidance and clarity that will allow Brigades & Staff to prioritize activities according to local risk, key needs and the availability of resources. It is hoped that as a result, Communities will be safer and more resilient due to fire prevention plans and actions having reduced the impact of fire on communities and assets, and those at risk are aware of their risk and ready to respond to warnings and advice. The need to change community attitudes was a popular discussion point at this year’s forum.

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 Saturday 30/08/14)

LISTENING SETS

The VFBV/CFA Listening Set working party have recently met, and been provided a briefing on the results of CFA’s submission to the Victorian Government Tendering Website, for Expressions of Interest for the supply and delivery of a VHF/UHF digital listening set. Whilst there are complex probity issues involved in the evaluation & selection process, CFA has agreed to VFBV’s request for the volunteer delegates to each be provided an evaluation unit of CFA’s preferred model, in order for them to conduct field evaluations. VFBV successfully argued that a desktop analysis should form only part of the selection methodology, and issues such as useability and field conditions is vital to their acceptance in the field.

Results from those evaluations have been very positive, with only minor requests going back to the manufacturer for clarification. The working party is hoping to complete field evaluation in early September, in order to allow enough time for CFA to commence negotiations with the preferred supplier in the lead up to this year’s Fire Danger Period.

VFBV has also strongly advocated for a significant financial subsidy program, in order to subsidize the initial cost to members wishing to replace existing listening sets that will be made redundant by the closing down of the analogue network. With a significant subsidy budget now available through VFBV’s support for a Volunteer Emergency Services Equipment Program (VESEP) grant, CFA have agreed to VFBV’s request for a robust distribution and communications strategy to accompany the rollout. This will ensure equity and fairness in the process used to calculate how many subsidized units can be accommodated in the budget and how they are distributed.

Further details will be provided as soon as contractual arrangements are finalized between CFA and the manufacturer/supplier.

RADIO DISTRESS BUTTONS

The committee received reports on an increased number of radio distress button activations. With the new digital network, activation of the distress buttons on the Tait radio’s sends a priority message to VicFire, who then must implement emergency procedures to contact the radio/vehicle involved. Recently, many of these requests by VicFire have gone unanswered. This is most likely due to members accidentally activating it during routine maintenance or testing, and then switching the radio off, or are too embarrassed to respond to VicFire’s inquiry. As the radio ID is sent with all distress button activations, the committee has recommended that CFA advise District Operations Managers of any recurring problems, so that individual Brigades can be followed up if required. Brigades are requested to please ensure your members understand the severity of activating the radios distress function, and encourage your members awareness of the button during routine testing and maintenance activities, in order to avoid accidental activation.

PAGER OBSERVATION REPORTS

Amid ongoing reports of frustration from Brigades who are submitting Pager Observation Reports and are reporting that they never hear back, CFA has agreed to implement an Observation Report tracking program, that will monitor all submitted Observation Reports, and their outcome. The Committee will now receive a quarterly report of all outstanding reports, including data on how quickly submitted reports in that quarter were actioned. This not only provides improved accountability to the process, but the Committee believes that this will also provide far greater transparency to the process, and help with an improved level of understanding and support to reported pager reception issues.

 

VFBV/CFA Joint HR, Welfare and OH&S Committee

2 Minute Briefing

Issue 9: May 2014

WELLBEING PILOT

The committee received a briefing on the Wellbeing Pilot that is being funded through the Volunteer Support Program. This pilot will see 10 specialist people hired to provide brigades with direct support for mental health & relationship management. This encompasses aspects such as physiological first aid, and includes assisting with behavioural and interpersonal conflict issues which sometimes arise within brigades.

The Wellbeing Pilot Project is not designed to replace the very important role of CIS Peers but will operate at a higher level of support for CFA members. In conjunction with the member concerned, Peers may in fact choose to make a referral to the Intake & Triage Support Officer to provide more specialist support. It is anticipated that this specialist support will enable Operational Leaders to be more focused on their role of protecting lives and property.

The discussion provided the committee the opportunity to discuss VFBV concerns around the centralized model proposed by the pilot, and the philosophical argument that member welfare and wellbeing should be seen by the organisation as core business. VFBV is very supportive of this program and its outcomes but consider the care of members to be at the core of CFA’s business and funding, and not (as is the case currently) to be the subject of opportunistic funding through the Volunteer Support Program. The committee will be closely monitoring the evaluation of this program and have requested to be actively & regularly engaged during the pilot period in order to inform the final evaluation of the pilot early next year.

All cases will be managed confidentially, and CFA will shortly be advertising the service and contact number. VFBV delegates have requested CFA to ensure all brigades are included in the communique, and not to rely solely on the CFA intranet to make members aware of what is available.

VFBV WELFARE & EFFICIENCY SURVEY

The VFBV Welfare and Efficiency Survey will be conducted for the third time in June. The survey should be live by the time this edition goes to press, or shortly thereafter.

This very important survey is an opportunity for volunteers to be able to provide feedback on how they perceive many aspects of their involvement as a CFA volunteer. The results of this survey are taken very seriously at all levels within CFA and are used in most Districts to guide change and improve performance and relationships across the organisation. The committee has agreed to work together to monitor the results, and champion initiatives aimed at addressing the concerns raised by Volunteers.

There are 33 questions in the survey which takes approximately 15 minutes to complete. Your answers are confidential and are used to advise both the CFA and Government on a range of issues that affect volunteers.

Please encourage as many volunteers as you can to visit the VFBV website at www.vfbv.com.au to complete the survey.

Alternatively members can choose to contact the VFBV Office on (03) 9886 1141 for a hard copy to be posted to you.

VFBV/CFA Joint Training Committee

2 Minute Briefing

Issue 9: May 2014

MOBILE TRAINING INFRASTRUCTURE PROJECT

The three prototype mobile hot fire training props have now moved from pilot to business as usual. Groups can download a booking form from Brigades Online or request one through your District office. The props are proving to be very popular, with demand currently in excess of capacity. An additional 10 Mobile Hot Fire Training Props are currently out for tender. Based on member feedback, delegates have requested that simple prop guides be developed for each of these props, similar to training ground PAD info sheets which outline sample drills and learning outcomes to assist Brigade trainers running the props to maximise the learning outcomes when running the drills and to support greater consistency of the training delivery.

PHASED BREATHING APPARATUS

The committee expressed its frustration at the lack of progress on the Phased BA Competency developed and recommended by the committee last year. OT&V have advised they fully support the phased approach, and are awaiting approval by the Chief Officer. OT&V are meeting with the Chief on the 12th June to try and progress. An update will be issued as soon as more information is available.

F&EM TRAINING GUIDE UPDATE

This project aims to deliver highly practical guides which will assist all involved in planning & delivering of training at brigade, group, instructor and assessor levels, both at operational and volunteer levels. The design & content stages of the guide are now complete. The next step is to pilot the guides to validate the proposed delivery format of the content with the reference group, which consists of over 65 volunteers and staff. This stage is expected to be completed by the end of August 2014, with a planned role out of the guides to brigades by February 2015.

F&EM TRAINING STRATEGY SURVEY OUTCOMES

The committee reviewed the draft results from the survey on the CFA “Training Strategy” that was run between January and April this year. There were a total of 1,044 respondents. The results will allow CFA to focus on particular areas of concern across the state with action plans developed from the data obtained by the survey. The committee will be working with OT&V and F&EM to identify priorities, and monitor training related KPI’s to review performance across the six strategic outcomes outlined in the strategy. Further information on the survey results is expected to be published online and in Brigade Magazine shortly.

RESPOND TO URBAN / CONTROL URBAN INCIDENT

An independent group of volunteers have trialled the draft training sessions. CFA have advised that it hopes to have the procedures signed off by July 1st and then roll out the “Train the Trainer” sessions by September 2014. The goal is to have the complete package rolled out by the start of next year.

WHO CAN TRAIN AND ASSESS?

OT&V have developed a new DVD and Poster to further clarify & explain who can train & assess at your brigade. The poster has an easier to understand definition on the terms such as “oversight” and “equivalence” and has been developed due to overly onerous interpretations by some Districts. Look out for these turning up at your brigade in the near future, with further information to appear in Brigade Magazine and the Fireman.

Published in Training Committee

VFBV/CFA Joint Community Safety Committee

2 Minute Briefing

Issue 9: May 2014

WIRE ROPE BARRIERS

Concerned at the increasing number of wire rope barriers being installed along major roads and arterials Brigades have frequently reported their concerns about a lack of access through those barriers. VFBV delegates have been raising this issue with CFA for some time, and have pointed out that there appeared to be no standard surrounding access points along these wire ropes. The committee have asked CFA to research and develop guidelines in conjunction with VicRoads about optimal/maximum distances between breaks to allow fire truck access in times of emergency.

VFBV has been working with CFA over the last several months to produce Victorian guidelines, and CFA provided a final draft to the Committee for comment. It is expected to be completed and signed off by CFA by June 30th. Delegates were happy that the guidelines not only address the breaks in the barriers, but also address minimum vegetation management clearances on both sides of the barriers. Whilst frustrated with the long time this issue has taken to resolve, the committee is happy to see an outcome.

VEGETATION MANAGEMENT TRAINING COURSES- BURNS CAMPS

CFA have recently conducted two Burns Camps within the State with an emphasis on training and everyday burns to assist with management of vegetation. The camps, conducted by Vegetation Management Officers (VMOs) and wildfire instructors, ran for five days with two dozen volunteers attending each one in addition to career firefighters from the fire agencies. Some members undertook the five days while others were able to attend on a day by day basis according to work commitments. The camps were reported favourably by attendees and local landowners alike, with the majority of the time spent in practical burns. Members received accreditation for the burns conducted each day and have asked for more of these Burns camps.

The camps also provided an opportunity to field test the imminent “Planned Burn Guide” which the Committee has been working with the VMO’s on. CFA has advised that further Volunteer friendly burn courses will be offered, targeting weekends & evenings, locally based & in 2 day course modules.

MITIGATION OF ALPINE REGIONS’ FIRE RISK

After several years of strong and committed campaigning by VFBV delegates on the committee, CFA, the Fire Services Commissioner (now the Emergency Services Commissioner) and the Alpine Resorts Management Boards have now come together to develop a strategy to mitigate increased risks and issues in the Alpine areas regarding fire prevention and suppression. VFBV is encouraged to hear that there has been significant progress in cooperation and progress of the Alpine Master Plans. Innovative response plans are also soon to be trialled at Mt Buller in consultation with the Joint Equipment & Infrastructure Committee. Delegates are elated to see a strong and coordinated approach now being undertaken to address this unique risk.

PERMIT CONDITIONS

The committee received an update from the VMO’s on the requested “plain speak” guide to planned burn permit conditions. The committee is hoping to see this rolled out shortly, to assist Brigades undertaking burns this upcoming season.

VFBV/CFA Joint Volunteerism Committee

2 Minute Briefing

Issue 9: May 2014

HONOURS & AWARDS

The committee reviewed a new booklet produced by OT&V, ‘How to Wear Honours and Awards’, which will be distributed to all CFA members within the next edition of the Brigade Magazine. The booklet is designed to assist members who have received more than one award and how to wear them according to the established order of precedence. The need for such a booklet has been highlighted at the recent NEM presentations, and has been based on the most frequently asked questions members have had.

VFBV provided initial feedback and suggestions which have now been incorporated into the final guide. Delegates commended CFA on a timely and well executed initiative.

NEM presentations continue across the state with ceremonies confirmed for Northern and Western Metropolitan Region, Loddon Mallee Region and Gippsland to occur in May, June and July 2014. There is continuing discussions between OT&V and Regions/Districts to organise a second round of presentations.

JUNIOR VOLUNTEER DEVELOPMENT PROGRAM

CFA have advised that junior member ID cards will be available online and approved as per the current CFA Member ID. The ID cards will contain the junior’s name, photo, Brigade and their 16th Birthday/Expiry Date. Delegates have requested that the new cards be ready prior to September for the commencement of local and regional championships in October.

It is expected that the new JVDP website will be launched in August, and will include a JVDP Program Guidebook, Junior Member Registration Forms and a new JVDP section on Brigades Online. CFA have agreed that individual copies of the documents will also be sent to all Junior Leaders and Brigade Secretaries.

VOLUNTEER STRATEGY

CFA has begun work on its Volunteer Strategy, and will be pursuing a joint approach with SES in order to align it to the Emergency Service reforms underway. VFBV has provided initial input into the scope of the strategy, and the committee participated in a structured workshop to validate and build upon the themes.

The Volunteer Strategy is expected to be presented to the VFBV and CFA boards in July 2014, with an implementation and working model expected to be finalised by the end of 2014.

VOLUNTEER EXIT SURVEY

The committee reviewed the results from the Volunteer Exit Survey Pilot which was conducted between 1 January and 30 June 2013. The survey is key to finding out why Volunteers are leaving the CFA, so that strategies can be implemented to retain and recruit more volunteers. Delegates have requested that some questions be improved for the future surveys, to ensure more relevant feedback. The exit survey will become a part of business as usual from July 2014. Every three months the CFA will send out the exit survey to all members that have left the CFA and every 12 months the CFA will produce a report from the results of these surveys to identify trends and common issues.

Published in Volunteerism Committee

Operations

2 Minute Briefing

Issue 9: May 2014

POST FIRE DANGER PERIOD REVIEW 2013/14

On the 8th April the Fire Services Commissioner released a Guidance & Conduct paper for this season’s Post Fire Danger period review. The document outlines the approach and expectations for conducting reviews to capture learning's from the 2013/14 fire season. The CFA Chief Officer advised Operations Managers that they will be responsible, in the first instance, to develop a process that caters for inputs from brigades and individual members. Districts were instructed that the Post FDP Review Timelines were to commence on the 7th April, with final results from debriefs and other related processes due no later than 6th June, in order for the final report to be considered by the FSC and Chief Officers by 15 June

Last year, the committee raised its concerns that, at a local and brigade level, there was insufficient opportunity for volunteers and front line personnel to provide input into lessons learned. The committee has been assured by CFA that processes would be improved this year to ensure opportunities are given.

VFBV encourages any members who don’t believe they have been provided an opportunity by their District to attend or participate in an After Action Review, or Post Fire Danger Period debrief before the June 5th closing date, to contact your Operations Manager in the first instance, and advise your local VFBV State Councillor of your concerns. The committee has requested CFA table each Districts review activities so we can monitor the effectiveness of local initiatives and identify any gaps.

SEASON OVERVIEW

The committee reviewed an overview of the season just past, in order to identify early priorities and areas for improvement. Generally speaking, the increased emphasis on aircraft this season appears to have worked well, and backs up the results from the trials conducted in the 2012/13 Fire Season that the committee reviewed.

The committee has long been encouraging CFA to improve the integration of lessons learned from each season, into pre-season briefings and incident debriefs. Work is currently underway to better formalize the capturing of lessons learned, and VFBV has requested an increased emphasis on case studies and tutes that are based on actual incidents, which will improve the sharing of knowledge throughout the organisation.

CFA acknowledged that the existing resource systems struggled to meet the challenge presented by Hazelwood, and that the utilisation of volunteers was again an issue. The committee has agreed to continue to monitor and assist CFA identify the systemic issues that are continuing to prevent the effective utilisation of volunteers. There was an acknowledgment by all that culture plays a critical role, and culture change will need to be a long term goal.

COMPOSITE STRIKE TEAMS & VOLUNTEERS PERFORMING DIV/SECTOR COMMANDER ROLES

The committee have identified a number of key actions they would like to see significant progress on this year. One such item is to request the Chief Officer issue an “Intent Statement” and guiding principles for those occasions that involve the integration of staff and Volunteers. Two constant recurring issues that are raised each year has been different local interpretations of crewing requirements of Strike Teams, and the use of Volunteers in Division & Sector Command roles when crews are made up of both Volunteers and staff. The use of AIIMS within CFA makes “Rank” completely invisible, yet local interpretation and practices frequently try to assert rank and pay status back into arrangements, that are contrary to the principles outlined in the Chief Officer’s Capstone and Service Delivery Principles. The committee hope to work with the Chief for it to be made very clear how integrated teams will work and integrate at all levels of the organisation, and the responsibility of management and key leaders to promote an inclusive working environment.

Published in Operations Committee
Thursday, 06 March 2014 00:00

2014 VFBV Urban Championships

Kangaroo Flat has won the title of Champion Brigade, at the 2014 Volunteer Fire Brigades Victoria (VFBV) Urban Championships, at Bendigo.

Jamie Hart and Tom Dargaville, of Kangaroo Flat, were named Champion Competitors.

The Championship weekend included a torchlight procession through central Bendigo and featured hundreds of competitors in 67 teams including several from WA.

The event was hosted by the Bendigo & District Fire Brigades Championship Committee, CFA and Volunteer Fire Brigades Victoria.

The three days of competition included events based on practical firefighting activities, building fitness, team skills and capabilities with hoses, hydrants 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.

The firefighters’ championships are one aspect of VFBV’s role as a statewide network of CFA’s 60,000 volunteers.  The events continue a Victorian volunteer fire brigade tradition of more than 140 years.

FINAL AGGREGATE RESULTS

Dry Aggregate

1st        Kangaroo Flat             24 Points

2nd        Drouin/Bunyip            21 Points

3rd        Maryvale                     8 Points

 

Wet Aggregate

1st        Kangaroo Flat             58 Points

2nd        Benalla                        52 Points

3rd        Traralgon                     42 Points        

 

SECTION AGGREGATES:

‘A’ SECTION

1st        Kangaroo Flat             82 Points

2nd        Drouin/Bunyip            42 Points

3rd        Narre Warren              37 Points

 

‘B’ SECTION

1st        Kooweerup                 50 Points

2nd        Traralgon                     47 Points

3rd        Cobden                       40 Points

 

‘C’ SECTION

1st        Benalla                        63 Points

2nd        Patterson River           41 Points

3rd        St Arnaud                   39 Points

 

2014 CHAMPION BRIGADE: KANGAROO FLAT

Coach David Dargaville, and competitors:   Tom Dargaville, Jackson Dargaville, Glen Scholtes, Jamie Hart, Jacob Cahill, James Murphy, Shane Every, Craig Peters, Andrew Smith, Kate Dargaville, Tyler Harris, Nathan Styles, Adam Melis, Cheri O’Neill & Brett Styles.

 

Results for the 2014 Champion Competitor:

Equal 1st        Jamie Hart and Tom Dargaville, Kangaroo Flat        19 points

3rd        Steven Myers, Drouin/Bunyip                                      17 points

=4th      Jackson Dargaville & Matt Royal (Maryvale)                    14 points

 

The Victoria / Western Australia Challenge took place after the final event, the Champion Fours, and was won by the Victorian team.  The competitors of the two teams for the Victoria / Western Australia Challenge were:

Western Australia:

Coach Horrie Hubble – South Hedland, and competitors

Andrew Seuren, Cory Goodhill & Catcher Dan Lawson – Mandurah Reece Parton, Tim Egerton-Green & Troy Rake – Harvey, Sam Trott – Brunswick Junction, Marlon Baars & Tim Bruce – South Hedland.

Victoria:

Coach David Dargaville, and competitors - Jackson Dargaville,Tom Dargaville, Jamie Hart

& Jacob Cahill – Kangaroo Flat, Peter Every – Wendouree, Kyle Hargreavs – Maffra, Steven Myers – Drouin/Bunyip, Arthur Churchill – Narre Warren, Matty van Tilburg – Moe

 

RESULTS - EVENT BY EVENT

SATURDAY, 8th MARCH

Event 1, DISCIPLINE CONTEST

 

Section A:     1st        Mornington                                     90.00%

                        2nd        Melton A                                         89.55%

                        3rd        Mildura                                            89.09%

                         4th        Harvey W.A.                                   87.27%

                         5th        Eaglehawk A                                 85.91%

 

Section B:     1st        Kyneton                                          87.27%

                        2nd        Belgrave                                        86.36%

                        3rd        South Hedland W.A.                     83.64%

                        4th        Kooweerup                                    82.73%

                        5th        Horsham                                        81.36%

 

Section C:     1st        Knox Group                           92.73%

                        2nd        Patterson River                    92.27%

                        3rd        Hoppers Crossing              88.64%

                        4th        Benalla                                  86.36%

                        5th        Whittlesea                            85.45%

 

Event No. 2 –  Ladder Race - One Competitor 

1st       Jackson Dargaville, Kangaroo Flat                 6.12 seconds  

2nd        Troy Ranke, Harvey W.A.                                   6.68 seconds

3rd        Andrew Norman, Hampton Park/Hallam       6.69 seconds

4th        Jake Rennie, Tatura                                           6.70 seconds

5th        Cory Goodhill, Mandurah W.A.                          6.83 seconds

 

Event  3 - Hydrant Race - One Competitor 

1st       Steven Myers, Drouin/Bunyip                        11.43 seconds

2nd        Michael Coleman, Maffra                             11.82 seconds

3rd        Josh Pike, Mildura                                         11.86 seconds

4th        Damon Sutton, Wendouree                         12.11 seconds

5th        Jake Rennie, Tatura                                      12.48 seconds

 

Event 4 – B Section Pumper & Ladder – Five Competitors

1st       Pyramid Hill                                                    15.69 seconds

2nd        Geelong West                                               15.99 seconds

3rd        Traralgon                                                        16.09 seconds

4th        Hampton Park/Hallam                                 16.16 seconds

5th        Horsham                                                         16.43 seconds

 

Event No. 5 - C Section Marshall - One Competitor 

1st       Leigh Barclay, Belmont                                 24.97 seconds

2nd        Cameron Whelan, Warracknabeal            27.45 seconds

3rd        Adam Bishop, Warrnambool                       27.62 seconds

4th        Devon Winsall, Belmont                               27.73 seconds

5th        Shaune Winsall, Warracknabeal                 27.89 seconds

 

Event No.  6 - A Section Hose and Ladder Eights

1st       Kangaroo Flat                                                   20.72 seconds

2nd        Wendouree                                                       21.47 seconds

3rd        Maryvale                                                             21.74 seconds

4th        Narre Warren                                                    21.77 seconds

5th        Eaglehawk A                                                     21.82 seconds

 

Event  No. 7 - B Section Marshall - One Competitor 

1st       Simon Hanigan, Belgrave                                25.67 seconds

2nd        Andrew Marshall, Cobden                              26.31 seconds

3rd        Brad Atkinson, Belgrave                                  26.88 seconds

4th        Cody Brown, Traralgon                                    27.78 seconds

5th        Wayne Sampson, South Hedland W.A.        28.06 seconds 

 

Event No. 8 - C Section Hose and Reel Fours

1st       Benalla                                                              17.84 seconds

2nd        Whittlesea                                                       18.47 seconds

3rd        Stanhope                                                          19.38 seconds

4th        St Arnaud                                                         19.55 seconds

5th        Warracknabeal                                                20.11 seconds 

 

Event No. 9 - A Section Marshall - One Competitor 

1st        Steven Myers, Drouin/Bunyip                          23.81 seconds

2nd        Matthew Royal, Maryvale                                 23.99 seconds

3rd        Mitch Golding, Drouin/Bunyip                         24.41 seconds

4th        Thomas Germon, Wendouree                      25.31 seconds

5th        Damon Sutton, Wendouree                           25.44 seconds

 

Event  No. 10 - B Section Hose and Reel Sixes 

1st       Kooweerup                                                      30.03 seconds

2nd        Werribee                                                         30.51 seconds

3rd        South Hedland, W.A.                                     32.11 seconds

4th        Maldon                                                             33.18 seconds

5th        Cobden                                                            34.27 seconds

 

Torchlight Procession

1st        Maffra                                                    96%

=2nd     Hoppers Crossing & Mildura           93%

4th        Melton                                                   91%

=5th      Kangaroo Flat & Swan Hill               90%

 

SUNDAY, 9th MARCH

 

Event 11– C Section Pumper & Ladder – Five Competitors

1st       Eaglehawk B                                 17.80 seconds

2nd        Mooroopna                                   18.43 seconds

3rd        Benalla                                          18.46 seconds

4th        Warracknabeal                            18.79 seconds

5th        Seymour                                       20.17 seconds

 

Event 12 - A Section Marshall - Two Competitors 

1st       James Murphy & Shane Every, Kangaroo Flat           14.29 seconds

2nd        Jared Squires & Josh Powell, Melton                         14.72 seconds

3rd        Chris Johnson & David Fromberg, Maryvale             15.11 seconds

4th        Tim Edgerton-Green & Luke Jones, Harvey W.A.     15.37 seconds

5th        Adrian Jones & Dale Hutchinson, Narre Warren      15.49 seconds

 

Event 13 - B Section Hose and Ladder Eights 

1st       Werribee                                                                              23.29 seconds

2nd        Traralgon                                                                            23.63 seconds

3rd        Cobden                                                                               23.82 seconds

4th        Kyneton                                                                              24.43 seconds

5th        Sorrento                                                                            24.61 seconds

 

Event 14 - C Section Marshall - Two Competitors 

1st       Mark & Tim Mullins, Patterson River                             15.36 seconds

2nd        Brenton & Leonard Lawrence, Hoppers Crossing    16.65 seconds

3rd        Adam & Sam Bishop, Warrnambool                             17.67 seconds

4th        Matthew & Cameron Crellin, Mansfield                         18.23 seconds

5th        Nick Bailey & Les Palpratt, Benalla                               18.49 seconds

 

Event 15 - A Section Hose and Reel Eights

1st       Kangaroo Flat                                                                    26.95 seconds

2nd        Narre Warren                                                                   27.69 seconds

3rd        Drouin/Bunyip                                                                  28.03 seconds

4th        Bendigo                                                                            28.16 seconds

5th        Wendouree                                                                      28.39 seconds

 

Event 16 - B Section Marshall - Two Competitors 

1st       Andrew Marshall & Ben Nelson, Cobden                   15.84 seconds

2nd        Tim & Joshua Harvey, Kooweerup                              16.34 seconds

3rd        Brendan Webbers & John Roberts, Kooweerup       16.95 seconds

4th        Russell Dow & James Templeton, Belgrave               17.38 seconds

5th        Liam Bunn & Brett Magrath, Kyneton                             17.47 seconds 

 

Event 17 - C Section Hose and Reel Sixes 

1st       St Arnaud                                                                             30.47 seconds

2nd        Whittlesea                                                                          32.06 seconds

3rd        Warracknabeal                                                                   32.17 seconds

4th        Sale                                                                                      33.88 seconds

5th        Mooroopna                                                                          34.44 seconds

 

Event 18 - A Section Hose, Hydrant and Pumper  

1st       Narre Warren                                                                     11.68 seconds

2nd        Melton A                                                                              11.71 seconds

3rd        Dandenong                                                                        12.07 seconds

4th        Drouin/Bunyip                                                                    12.75 seconds

5th        Creswick                                                                             12.94 seconds

 

Event 19 - B Section Y Coupling and Ladder Eights 

1st       Traralgon                                                                             33.88 seconds

2nd        Sorrento                                                                             34.58 seconds

3rd        Kooweerup                                                                        35.92 seconds

4th        Werribee                                                                            37.15 seconds

5th        South Hedland, W.A.                                                       37.57 seconds 

 

Event 20 - C Section Hose, Hydrant and Pumper

1st       Benalla                                    14.65 seconds

2nd        Sale                                         15.49 seconds

3rd        Warracknabeal            15.71 seconds

4th        Warrnambool                          15.80 seconds

5th        Stanhope                                 16.20 seconds

 

Event 21 - A Section Y Coupling and Ladder Eights 

1st       Eaglehawk A                          30.37 seconds

2nd        Kangaroo Flat                         30.40 seconds

3rd        Maryvale                                 33.03 seconds

4th        Creswick                                 33.16 seconds

5th        Euroa                                       33.18 seconds

 

Event 22 - B Section Hose, Hydrant and Pumper  

1st       Kooweerup                             14.01 seconds

2nd        Traralgon                                 14.69 seconds

3rd        Geelong West                         15.26 seconds

4th        Cobden                                   16.16 seconds

5th        Horsham                                  16.25 seconds

 

Event 23 – C Section Y Coupling and Ladder Eights 

1st       Patterson River                       35.40 seconds

2nd        Benalla                                    37.81 seconds

3rd        Eaglehawk B                           39.24 seconds

4th        Whittlesea                               39.62 seconds

5th        Warrnambool                          41.87 seconds

 

Event 24 - A Section Hose and Reel Sixes 

1st       Maffra                                         28.47 seconds

2nd        Moe                                           28.62 seconds

3rd        Narre Warren                          28.72 seconds

4th        Bendigo                                   28.81 seconds

5th        Dandenong                             31.98 seconds 

 

MONDAY, MARCH 10th

Event 25 – A Section Pumper & Ladder – Five Competitors

1st       Echuca                                    13.65 seconds

2nd        Maryvale                                 13.95 seconds

3rd        Drouin/Bunyip                       14.18 seconds

4th        Swan Hill                               14.42 seconds

5th        Dandenong                           15.08 seconds

 

Event 26 - B Section Y Coupling - Four Competitors

1st       South Hedland W.A.                 8.50 seconds  

2nd        Werribee                                   8.59 seconds

3rd        Traralgon                                   8.86 seconds

4th        Kooweerup                               8.93 seconds

5th        Cobden                                    8.96 seconds

 

Event 27 - C Section Hose and Ladder Fives 

1st       St Arnaud                                   22.16 seconds

2nd        Patterson River                       23.57 seconds

3rd        Sale                                           23.93 seconds

 

Event 28 - A Section Y Coupling - Four Competitors 

1st       Kangaroo Flat                         7.82 seconds  

2nd        Swan Hill                                8.16 seconds

3rd        Drouin/Bunyip                        8.17 seconds

4th        Mildura                                    8.20 seconds

5th        Wendouree                            8.35 seconds

 

Event 29 - B Section Hose and Reel Eights

1st       Belgrave                                  29.52 seconds

2nd        Maldon                                    31.93 seconds

3rd        South Hedland W.A.              32.26 seconds

4th        Cobden                                   32.31 seconds

5th        Geelong West                         32.39 seconds

 

Event 30 - C Section Y Coupling - Four Competitors 

1st       Benalla                                    7.86 seconds  

2nd        Belmont                                 8.26 seconds

3rd        St Arnaud                               8.74 seconds

4th        Patterson River                      8.82 seconds

5th        Sale                                         9.10 seconds

 

Event 31 - Champion Fours 

1st       Kangaroo Flat                         17.19 seconds

2nd        Cobden                                   17.35 seconds

3rd        Maryvale                                 17.47 seconds

4th        Drouin/Bunyip                        17.63 seconds

5th        Golden Square                       18.21 seconds

4th        Benalla                                     24.04 seconds

5th        Knox Group                              24.19 seconds

 

 

Published in VFBV News
Thursday, 06 February 2014 14:50

Australia Day Honours 2014

VFBV extends its congratulations to all CFA members who were honoured with the Australian Fire Service Medal (AFSM) or the Medal of the Order of Australia (OAM).

David Gerrard AFSM - Beaufort CFA volunteer, Captain of 22 years, Deputy Group Officer and former District 16 VFBV President.

Peter Schmidt AFSM - CFA’s Southern Regional Director is also an ex Captain, former Deputy Group Officer and volunteer of 30 years. He currently volunteers with the Sorrento Fire Brigade.

Andrew O'Connell AFSM - an Operations Commander with the MFB, Andrew is also a long serving volunteer with Hurstbridge Fire Brigade.

Recipients of the Medal of the Order of Australia (OAM) are;

Leon Williams OAM (Mooroopna CFA)

Ian Bodinnar OAM (Nyah Nyah West CFA)

Norm Bodinnar OAM (Nyah Nyah West CFA)

John McEvoy OAM (Dederang CFA)

Alan George Eley OAM (Echuca CFA)

Published in VFBV News
Tuesday, 10 September 2013 16:41

CFA Career Firefighter Recruitment mid-2014

CFA has now opened its Online Career Firefighter Recruitment database, accepting candidates for Career Firefighting positions for start in mid-2014.

CFA advises that they are looking for people who are community-minded and fit, who want a challenging, rewarding and exciting career.

The current list of Career Information Sessions has been fully booked - please watch the CFA webpage for announcements about extra sessions over the next few weeks.

CFA intends to close applications on Friday, 11 October at 4pm.

For more information, visit the Career Firefighter Recruitment area of CFA’s website www.cfa.vic.gov.au

SEE BELOW FOR CFA'S 11 SEPTEMBER MEDIA RELEASE

CFA recruiting career firefighters

CFA is looking for fit, enthusiastic women and men to join the ranks of its 693 career firefighters

who work shoulder to shoulder with the organisation’s 57,000 volunteers.

With growing demands on CFA’s services in Melbourne and large regional centres, more

career firefighters are needed to support volunteers to deliver vital emergency services.

Applications to become a career firefighter have opened at www.cfa.vic.gov.au, with information

sessions to be held around the state in coming weeks.

Successful applicants will begin a 16 week intensive training course in early 2014.

Chief Officer Euan Ferguson said fighting bushfires was just one part of CFA’s role.

“Career firefighters work around the clock alongside volunteers at more than 30 integrated

stations in Melbourne and regional Victoria,” Mr Ferguson said.

“They protect a million homes and businesses from fire and flood, conduct road rescues and

respond to hazardous materials incidents.”

The recruitment drive is part of the Victorian Government’s Project 2016, a response to

recommendations of the Victorian Bushfires Royal Commission.

“In addition to Melbourne, career firefighters are stationed at places such as Geelong, Bendigo,

Ballarat, Warrnambool, Mildura, Shepparton, Wodonga and Traralgon just to name a few.”

“Many people don‘t realise that more than 3.3 million Victorians, including 2 million

Melbournians, come under the protective umbrella of CFA.” Mr Ferguson said.

Over recent years CFA has seen an unprecedented investment in personnel, vehicles and fire

stations, including the recruitment of more than 158 new career firefighters since 2011.

Mr Ferguson said the recruitment drive was also an opportunity to build more diversity into its

ranks, and in particular, increase the number of women career firefighters.

“While CFA is very diverse in some ways, particularly its volunteer base, there is an underrepresentation

of women and people from culturally diverse backgrounds throughout the

organisation,” Mr Ferguson said.

While age is no barrier, applicants will need to meet high standards of fitness, strength and

endurance in addition to the ability to work as part of a strong team in difficult circumstances.

Applicants must also be prepared to relocate to one of CFA’s integrated fire stations across

Victoria. Anyone contemplating a career as a CFA career firefighter can test their suitability at

http://www.cfa.vic.gov.au/volunteer-careers/suitability-test/

 

 

.

Published in CFA News
Tuesday, 05 March 2013 00:00

Upcoming Urban Championships

2024 State Urban Junior Championship

The 2024 State Urban Junior Championship will be held at Mooroopna on the weekend of 16 and 17 March 2024, the weekend prior to the State Urban Senior and Rural State Championships.

  

2024 State Urban Senior Championship, Mooroopna

The 2024 State Urban Senior Championship will be held at Mooroopna on the weekend of 23 and 24 March 2024, in conjunction with the 2024 State Rural Junior and Senior Championships. 

  

Urban Competition Conditions & Rules

A copy of the Urban Competition Conditions & Rules book is available as a PDF document from the link below. The rule book was last updated in January 2024. If you require a printed copy, please reach out to the VFBV office via This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or phone (03) 9886 1141.

 

Information for Competing Brigades 

Items of interest from the Urban Competition and Rules Committee is available for download below.   

 

2023-24 Competition Season 

A list of approved competitions for the 2023-24 competition season can be downloaded from the bottom of this page.   

 

Published in Urban Championships
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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