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Monday, 30 January 2017 14:19

Role of Group - Get Involved

Having waited since 2012 for the latest CFA review to strengthen the role of the Group, the VFBV/CFA Joint Operations Committee is disappointed with the lack of progress or CFA leadership, and has endorsed a plan for a volunteer-led review instead.

The review will gather feedback from all Groups to arrive at a formal position for which volunteers can advocate.

Starting after the Fire Danger Period, we will need representatives from all Districts to lead and coordinate discussion.  We will also use the feedback from CFA’s previous review as well as discussing the many ideas that may have been rejected by CFA at the time.

In the previous review, VFBV advocated for;

  • Greater support and recognition from CFA to Groups and the Group structures in local command and control
  • Greater flexibility in how Groups can structure themselves to accommodate and respect local and regional differences and flexibility to match operating models to local risks.  A ‘one size fits all’ model is not supported.
  • Strengthening the chain of command to empower and enhance the capability and capacity for local command and control being exercised by CFA members at the local level ensuring that local participation continues as incidents grow in size and complexity
  • Systems of work that recognise and enhance how Brigades, Groups, OOs and RDOs interact and support each other in Operational Readiness & Response, Training & Mentoring and Community Education
  • Strengthening the role of Groups in assisting Brigades building local capability for Incident Management and volunteer upskilling and mentoring for Level 2 and 3 incident management roles
  • Greater support and recognition of the important role of Group Comms including role, systems and processes in supporting local incidents and deployments, and recognition in CAD processes and procedures of this vital role
  • Greater support and recognition of the important role Groups play in readiness, pre-incident planning & coordination, strike team resourcing & deployment, maintaining situational awareness and training delivery

All members can share their thoughts, and VFBV will help Groups and Districts to participate in structured discussions and share information from neighbouring Groups and Districts.

To get involved, contact VFBV at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.or (03) 9886 1141 and we will record your details.

Published in HomePage Featured
Monday, 16 January 2017 12:25

FireWise - VFBV's January Column

In this Edition

- Editorial - Summer and Business as Usual

- Apply Now for Scholarships

- Coalition Moves to Change CFA Act

- Delegate Development course

- Digital Scanners at Cost Price

- Youth Network in 20 Districts

- Planned Burning as Training

- Chainsaw Training

- 2017 Championships

- Australasian Championships

- Cancer Law Reminder

- Donations Welcome

 

SUMMER AND BUSINESS AS USUAL

By Andrew Ford, VFBV Chief Executive Officer

I am hoping that everyone has found at least a few quiet moments to enjoy Christmas and managed to reflect, re-energise and prepare for 2017.  It has been a hot few weeks and certainly looks like some parts of the state will have a very busy summer.

As we go into a new year, it would be easy to think that over the past 12 months the CFA and emergency sector has been tied up with just a few major issues.

But while there have been major challenges at the statewide level and attention to CFA issues right up to the Federal level, your volunteer association that is VFBV has been quietly getting on with business as usual in the background.

Volunteer delegates on the VFBV/CFA Joint Committees, and any number of volunteers on working groups and at the District level, have been working on the equipment, training, projects and other issues that make up our everyday representation work for volunteers and Brigades.

As just a few examples of the association’s work over the past 12 months; VFBV has launched its VFBV Multi-Agency Youth Network, another class of VFBV Leadership participants has graduated, a VFBV-advocated partnership with CFA has delivered 10,000 subsidised digital scanners to Brigades and Groups, we have provided practical assistance to Brigades applying for VESEP grants, and we have launched two innovative short videos, the first explaining in simple terms how CFA’s great volunteer surge capacity works, and the second transforming CFA turnout data into a graphical depiction of how Brigades from all over the state contribute to CFA’s ability to deal with multiple major incidents at a time while still protecting every Brigade’s local community.

We have also contributed to the State Government’s Fire Services Review; worked with CFA, DELWP and EMV to increase volunteer participation in planned burning; given assistance and support to the VEOHRC Independent Equity and Diversity Review; provided submission and input to the Fiskville Inquiry; and we continue the work on yet to be resolved issues like presumptive legislation, the role of CFA Groups, chainsaw training, 40 kph speed limits near incidents, new BA acquisition and electrical safety mobile props.

It is very satisfying to note that volunteers have given their association’s work a very strong stamp of approval through the year, with record numbers of Brigades affiliating with VFBV, record numbers subscribing to the VFBV Welfare Fund, record numbers of volunteers taking part in the annual VFBV Volunteer Welfare & Efficiency Survey, and higher levels of activity across District Councils and on our social media sites.

And I’d like to add a final note appropriate to the season.  Summer is here, volunteers are busy in many parts of the state, and we all need to be mindful of safety and wellbeing; our own and that of our fellow members.  So stay safe, look after yourselves and keep an eye out for one another.

 

VFBV VOLUNTEER LEADERSHIP SCHOLARSHIPS - APPLY NOW FOR 2017

VFBV’s Volunteer Leadership Program scholarships will be available again in 2017 and we are now calling for Expressions of Interest from potential participants.

The two 2017 courses will be based in the Euroa (District 22) and Ararat (District 16) areas, they will run from late March to the end of the year, and successful participants will achieve the nationally recognised Certificate IV in Leadership & Management.  Both locations have been chosen based on an effort to rotate the courses across the State, and their location on major highways to make travel to and from those areas as easy as possible for members from neighbouring Districts.

The VFBV Volunteer Leadership Program has already produced over 250 graduates and many are in leadership positions with their agencies, volunteer representative organisations or local communities.  Graduates will graduate with a nationally recognised Cert IV in Leadership & Management (BSB42015).

You can download the application pack from the VFBV website.  We are offering scholarships to volunteers from CFA, Ambulance Victoria, Australian Volunteer Coast Guard, Life Saving Victoria, VICSES and St John.   Nominations close Friday 27 January 2017.

The VFBV Leadership Scholarship course has been designed for volunteers, with a mix of lectures and interactive activities designed to suit the needs of adult students, as well as ample support using distance learning methods.  The course involves 12 units, eight face to face days (six Saturdays and two Sundays) throughout the year, with course work and assignments spread throughout the year.

The course includes units on; leadership, decision making, planning, safety and risk management, team effectiveness, making presentations, managing projects, and engaging the community.

Any questions or queries can be directed to any of VFBV’s Support Officers, and information packs are being posted to all Brigades.

 

COALITION MOVES TO CHANGE CFA ACT

The Coalition parties have introduced a Bill into the upper house of State Parliament, in an attempt to introduce additional protections for volunteers’ rights into the CFA Act.

The Bill is designed to prevent any outside deals that affect volunteers but bypass the existing protections of the CFA Act and the Federal Fair Work Act.

The proposed legislation is listed for debate in State Parliament in the new year, and is worthy of support from all Members of Parliament.  We encourage volunteers to raise the issue with local MPs – talk to your VFBV State Councillor if you need advice.

The explanatory notes included with the Bill say it would make minor adjustments to the CFA Act “to protect volunteers from the implementation of any deed, agreement or arrangement that may have adverse effects on the volunteer firefighters across the state.”

The notes also say: “Deeds, agreements and or arrangements to commit the CFA to implement clauses, which would otherwise be subject to approval by the Fair Work Commission (FWC), is not compliant with the principles of the Volunteer Charter. This amendment will ensure the CFA Act 1958 supports the integrated model of fire fighting in Victoria, a volunteer organisation with support from career staff.”

 

ENGAGING DIVERSITY WITH DELEGATE DEVELOPMENT

VFBV will soon offer more than 100 Brigade Delegates, BMT members and other volunteers a nationally recognised training course in skills for volunteer representatives.

The course will offer modules that go towards Cert II in Public Safety (Firefighting Operations) and Cert III in Public Safety (Community Safety).

Participants will develop practical skills in understanding the structure and communications channels of VFBV and CFA, the Delegate’s role, communication skills and problem solving skills.

The newly developed course will involve two full day sessions several weeks apart, and each participant will work with a more experienced volunteer as a mentor.

The course will be free to all participants, details will be posted on the VFBV website in January, and volunteers interested in taking the course should discuss it with their District Council executive or their VFBV Support Officer.

 

DIGITAL SCANNERS AT COST PRICE

 

We are still receiving enquiries from members about digital scanners, and we have good news for everyone still needing a scanner.

Digital Scanners are still available at cost price - $446.75 plus postage and handling - which is hundreds of dollars below retail, and CFA is still accepting orders from Brigades, Groups and individual members.

The digital scanner subsidisation program was advocated by VFBV and run in partnership with CFA, and has been an overwhelming success since it began in October 2015.   Over 10,000 digital scanners have been delivered to over 1,000 Brigades and Groups, with savings to members adding up to over $3 million dollars.

To order a scanner now, you will need to place a Tier 3 order, using the order form that’s available for download here.

 

 

VFBV MULTI-AGENCY YOUTH NETWORK

The VFBV Multi-Agency Youth Network now has active groups in 20 Districts, including 16 where young members, the Champions – experienced local volunteers chosen to assist and mentor them – and VFBV District Council representatives have begun work on recruiting young volunteers and discussing issues and suitable projects.

Districts 4, 5, 6 and 22 are still seeking Champions and all Districts are looking for more young volunteers – if you’d like to get involved, talk to your VFBV Support Officer or call Chris Fryer in the VFBV office on 9886 1141.

In District 12, young volunteers taking part in the VFBV Multi-Agency Youth Network, supported by the VFBV District Council Executive, are to begin work on a new smart phone app.

The app will create a register of volunteers matched with their skills, qualifications and attributes, and will be accessible by other members, making it easy for them to get in contact with volunteers with particular skills and capabilities.

Looking for a volunteer who has expertise in a particular Brigade skill?  Or perhaps a volunteer who is a local plumber or garden contactor?  Consult the app.

The VFBV Multi-Agency Youth Network in District 12 has also had success with new members from VICSES.  Three young SES volunteers have joined the Network and are now working to recruit more young volunteers from their agency.

In Districts 9, 10 and 27, young volunteers are working together to create an interconnected CFA paging system using mobile phones instead pagers.

The app and pager projects are part of a theme that is building up among the young members of the Youth Network, the need to make better use of modern technology.

Young volunteers interested in getting involved should contact their VFBV District Council, or Chris Fryer at VFBV on (03) 9886 1141 or at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

 

PLANNED BURNS AS TRAINING

For many years now VFBV has been advocating for a more holistic approach to planned burning, and for CFA to promote the training advantages of participating in planned burns.

The VFBV/CFA Joint Community Safety Committee has been very pleased to observe that recent planned burns have developed into exercises, not just in fire behaviour and fuel load interactions but also extend to learnings in weather behaviour, impact on flora and fauna, bush heritage and Indigenous fire management practices.

The camps are very practical ‘hands on’ for all involved, each participant is specifically tasked with both coaching and mentoring roles, allowing involvement by volunteers across all aspects of the planned burning.

Recent burn camps also saw attendances from Traditional Owners, Trust for Nature (landowners) bird scientists, along with DELWP, plantation owners and CFA paid staff. The attendees worked well together and contributed experience and expertise, building valuable relationships and creating an atmosphere of co-operation in complex burn scenarios.

These camps offer a great opportunity for volunteers to train in realistic settings and gain extensive firefighting experience. The Joint Committee has requested CFA produce a brochure which clearly explains and illustrates upcoming Burn Camps to Brigades.

 

CHAINSAW TRAINING

The VFBV/CFA Joint Training Committee continues to advocate for much greater access and support for members to attain chainsaw qualification and training.

Despite two Mobile Chainsaw Training trailers developed through the Mobile Prop Project back in 2015 to add additional capability for members to access chainsaw training, a UFU grievance over the training package, equipment and trailer use and design has resulted in a yearlong ban on paid instructors using these trailers to deliver any chainsaw training, resulting in the widespread cancellation of CFA planned courses for volunteers.

CFA advises that the IR issues are now close to being resolved, and has confirmed that there are no IR restrictions that relate to volunteer trainer and assessors accessing, towing and using the trailers.

Whilst disappointed that Brigades are currently unable to access paid support and delivery of chainsaw courses through CFA’s training pool, the Joint Committee has requested that CFA increase the number of endorsed volunteer trainer and assessors to deliver this training, so that Brigades can access this vital training.

CFA has agreed to streamline and prioritise volunteer access to the new trailers, equipment and training package, as well as investigate an Expression of Interest process for subject matter experts to be identified and endorsed for volunteer training and delivery.

 

2017 CHAMPIONSHIPS

Over 900 competitors are expected at this year’s VFBV State Urban Championships, with 59 senior teams and 74 junior teams entered.

With Bendigo hosting its 30th urban senior championships, there will be a limited edition commemorative medal for every competitor, free entertainment in the Bendigo CBD after the torchlight procession, and a spectacular display of Chinese lion dancing.

Dates and locations the state championships are as follows:

  • VFBV State Urban Junior Championships - at Tatura, on 25/26 February 2017
  • VFBV State Urban Senior Championships - at Bendigo, on 11 to 13 March 2017
  • VFBV State Rural Championships - at Wodonga on 1 and 2 April 2017

Visit the Urban Championships area of the website for the latest rule book, entry forms, and judges’/officials’ nomination forms.

More details and entry forms will be posted on the Rural Championships page soon.

 

AUSTRALASIAN FIREFIGHTER CHAMPIONSHIPS

The Australasian championships will be held at Carterton, New Zealand, on 17 to 19 November 2017.

Expressions of interest are open until 1 March.  Send your Brigade name and contact details to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.or call the VFBV office on 9886 1141.

 

CANCER LAW REMINDER

Throughout summer, public attention turns to fire and firefighters.

If you encounter any Members of Parliament this summer, VFBV urges you to remind them that

Victorian volunteers and paid firefighters were promised presumptive legislation two years ago, but this important issue for all firefighters remains unresolved.

Your local MPs need to know volunteers won’t accept second best just because they are not paid.  Click here for more information on the Firefighters' Cancer issue.

 

DONATIONS WELCOME

 

GET THE LATEST NEWS

Download the latest Joint Committee Two Minute Briefings here.

Join the discussion on our Facebook page at www.facebook.com/cfavol

Follow us on Twitter at www.twitter.com/vfbv or Instagram @volunteer_fire_brigades_vic

Published in HomePage Featured

VFBV’s Volunteer Leadership Program scholarships

Applications for 2017 have now closed, but volunteers considering applying for future courses are invited to download the information packs below.

The 2017 courses will be based in the Euroa (District 22) and Ararat (District 16) areas, starting in late March.  Successful participants will achieve the nationally recognised Certificate IV in Leadership & Management. The locations have been chosen based on an effort to rotate the courses across the State, and their location on major highways to make travel to and from those areas as easy as possible for members from neighbouring Districts.

The VFBV Volunteer Leadership Program has already produced over 250 graduates and many are in leadership positions with their agencies, volunteer representative organisations or local communities.  Graduates will achieve a nationally recognised Cert IV in Leadership & Management (BSB42015).

You can download the 2017 application pack for CFA volunteers here.  Scholarships are also open to volunteers from Ambulance Victoria, Australian Volunteer Coast Guard, Life Saving Victoria, VICSES and St John.  You can download a 2017 multi-agency application pack here.

The VFBV Leadership Scholarship course has been designed for volunteers, with a mix of lectures and interactive activities designed to suit the needs of adult students, as well as ample support using distance learning methods.  The course involves 12 units, eight face to face days (six Saturdays and two Sundays) throughout the year, with course work and assignments spread throughout the year.

The course includes units on;

  • leadership
  • decision making
  • planning
  • safety and risk management
  • team effectiveness
  • making presentations
  • managing projects, and
  • engaging the community.

Any questions or queries can be directed to any of VFBV’s Support Officers.  You can download the 2017 flyer here and a copy was posted to all Brigades as part of VFBV’s regular mail-out.

This is an exciting program and is well respected in the sector.  Applications always exceed places available, so please encourage your members and keep in mind that your Brigade Captain’s endorsement is very powerful when assessing potential students.

Published in HomePage Featured
Monday, 19 December 2016 12:25

FireWise - VFBV's December Column

In This Edition

- Editorial – Reflecting on a Challenging Year

- Fire Awareness Award for Kids Program

- VFBV Welfare Fund helps 1,000 Volunteers

- 10,000 Scanners save Brigades $3 Million

- Fiskville – Action Still Needed

- Introducing VFBV Support Officer Peter Sharman

- Vale Former State Councillor Barry Pyke

- Fundraising Still Important

- Cancer Law – Remind Your Local MPs

REFLECTING ON A CHALLENGING YEAR

By Andrew Ford, Chief Executive Officer

As we look back on 2016, I am sure most people will agree it has been a very challenging year.  And this year, more than most, I am looking forward to Christmas and focussing on the important things of family, friends, neighbours and enjoying the community I live in.

I want to take this opportunity to wish all of our members, friends and supporters a very happy and safe Christmas.

As always I wish for a quiet Christmas and summer but we only need to reflect on this time last year to know how unpredictable things can be.  And as always I know that this is a good time of the year to remember why volunteers do what they do, how incredibly valuable that is for our communities and how good it feels to focus on why we joined CFA rather than the frustrations.

So I am not going to talk much about the latest developments in the CFA and UFU ongoing industrial dispute, other than to say it seems to be far from resolved.  CFA is seeking to have the proposed EBA considered by the Fair Work Commission under the amended Fair Work Act, and the UFU is pushing to stop this from happening. 

For CFA volunteers one of the great successes of 2016 came in the form of the changes to the Federal Fair Work Act that now provide a truly fair umpire and clear respect and protections for volunteers.

We have said all along that volunteers and VFBV have no interest in paid firefighters’ pay increase negotiations, so it can only be hoped that in addition to the recent pay increases announced by CFA, any further matters that are still outstanding can be agreed quickly.

By now CFA Brigades right across Victoria are well into gearing up and preparing for summer so, from a VFBV perspective, let’s keep this and protecting our communities as the big CFA focus for now.

Once again thanks for the tremendous activity and support over the past year.  From any turmoil there is often good to emerge and it has been extremely pleasing to see the exponential growth in the numbers of volunteers who are now deeply connected and active within VFBV.

Brigades across Victoria are more connected with VFBV than ever; our VFBV State, District and Brigade delegates are more informed and active than ever and doing a great job. We have made great progress in establishing our VFBV Multi-Agency Youth Network and we have substantially raised the profile of volunteer issues. Thank you!

Our VFBV affiliation levels for this year are at a new record high, with just under 95% of Brigades affiliated with VFBV and 90% of Brigades subscribing to the VFBV Welfare Fund.

On a sadder note, the year saw the departure of some very respected people and I want to recognise and thank once again those who suffered the consequences of standing firm on their principles; Emergency Services Minister Jane Garrett, CFA Board Members, CFA CEO Lucinda Nolan and CFA Chief Officer Joe Buffone, others including MFB Chief Officer Peter Rau, and many other senior CFA volunteer and paid personnel.

To all CFA volunteers and the paid staff who work with, and in support of us; to our families, employers and supporters, thank you, well done for what you do and have a safe and happy Christmas.  I am going to head into Christmas looking forward to next year and hopefully a rethink by some who need to stop and think about just how good the CFA can be if everyone is respected and respectful.  

 

AWARD FOR KIDS’ PROGRAM

A VFBV-supported project for secondary students has won the Education Award at this year’s Fire Awareness Awards, thanks to local CFA volunteers and the Maryborough Education Centre.

The Emergency Services Journey takes Year 9 students to their local brigade, Police and ambulance station to see how each service operates and learn practical skills.

What began as a Brigades in Schools program run by Maryborough Fire Brigade volunteers in 2004, has been developed into an innovative course at the Maryborough Education Centre by teacher and CFA volunteer Samantha Rothman.

There’s a camp in the Mallee, sessions at a surf life saving club, activities like open water swimming and fire brigade competition events, and the students achieve certificates in Life Saving skills and First Aid.

The Fire Awareness Award judges said the project goes beyond the basics in building resilience, with a range of partner organisations and reaching great numbers; over 40 students participate each year, and several have become CFA volunteers.

Principal David Sutton says the school is proud of the Emergency Services Journey program and students for doing so well, and particularly Samantha Rothman for her work in developing and championing the program.

Pictured: VFBV’s Andrew Ford, Maryborough CFA Captain Darryl Wagstaff AFSM, teacher and CFA volunteer Samantha Rothman, and Maryborough Education Centre Principal David Sutton at the Fire Awareness Awards.

 

 

VFBV WELFARE FUND HELPS 1,000

Since its creation by the urban Brigades association in 1913, the VFBV Welfare Fund has helped 1,079 volunteers in need, with more than $1.4 million in small assistance grants.

VFBV Welfare Fund grants are financed by Brigade subscriptions and the interest earned on the Fund’s invested capital, which provides the income necessary to pay grants and at the same time maintain the Fund’s asset capital base to ensure it can provide support to CFA volunteers in need for generations to come.

VFBV funds all operating and administrative costs of the Fund – so every dollar earned by the Fund’s investments and subscriptions goes to assisting volunteers in need.  Typical cases involve volunteers who are facing significant financial difficulty because of prolonged illness or a sudden death in the family.  An average individual grant from the Fund is just under $3,500.

The VFBV Welfare Fund is run as a government-approved charity by a VFBV Committee of Management under Australian Taxation Office rules, with its books independently audited every year.

Individual volunteer applications are considered by their Brigade before an application is made to the VFBV Welfare Fund Committee of Management, and over the past five years 92.5% of applications have been approved.  VFBV has also negotiated discounts on some of the volunteers’ bills, worked with their Brigades to monitor the situation in case the family needs additional assistance, and referred volunteers to sources of financial planning.

For more information, visit the VFBV Welfare Fund page.

 

10,000 SCANNERS DELIVERED - $3M SAVING FOR BRIGADES

The Digital Scanner subsidy program advocated by VFBV and run in partnership with CFA is an overwhelming success, with 10,478 digital scanners delivered to Brigades and Groups so far.  The savings to members represent over $3 million.

More than 970 Brigades and 80 Groups have received their Tier 1 & 2 orders, and CFA is still accepting Tier 3 orders, from Brigades, Groups and individual members.

Tier 3 units are available at cost price, which has been significantly reduced due to the bulk orders placed during the subsidy program.  Members can order units for $446.75 plus postage and handling, while stocks last.   Download an order form here.

 

FISKVILLE FINAL REPORT – ACTION STILL NEEDED

The State Government has responded to the Fiskville Inquiry’s final report, endorsing all recommendations either fully or in part – you can download a copy of the response here.

VFBV now hopes it will be the trigger for urgent Government and CFA action on replacing Fiskville’s vital training capacity, ensuring properly monitored water quality standards for all CFA training sites, and maintaining ongoing support to all of those affected by exposure at the Fiskville site.

The announcement follows years of work from VFBV since the issue was first raised in the media in December 2011.   VFBV has consistently called for urgent remedial action at the site, independent, expert monitoring, ongoing support for everyone affected, and the urgent replacement of Fiskville’s lost training capacity. 

The closure of the site came in 2015 after the surprising discovery that water quality problems were persisting in spite of the reassurances of WorkSafe, the EPA, technical experts and CFA.

The State Government’s response to the Inquiry is not the end of the issue, but a cue for action to resolve the problems left in Fiskville’s wake.

 

VFBV SUPPORT TO BRIGADES

Newly arrived at VFBV is Support Officer Peter Sharman. 

Peter is an experienced volunteer who will work with District Councils, Brigades and volunteers in Districts, 4, 5, 6 and 7 to facilitate strong VFBV engagement with volunteers, assist District Councils with issues resolution at the local level, and support ongoing consultation with volunteers on all matters affecting them.

Peter has been a CFA volunteer since 1987.  He is an ex Captain and a currently serving Group Officer, and has served as a VFBV State Councillor, and on the VFBV/CFA Joint Volunteerism Committee and the Joint Communications and Technology Committee.

You can contact Peter Sharman on 0428 751 652 or at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

 

VALE BARRY PYKE

We were sad to learn of the recent passing of former VRFBA District 12 State Councillor and VFBV Life Member Barry Pyke.

Barry was a 50 year CFA volunteer and a long time member of the Whanregarwen Fire Brigade.  He served volunteers and the community for many years, and was an active participant in the creation of a single association in District 12 as part of the move towards the creation of VFBV.

Our sympathy goes out to Barry’s family, friends and fellow volunteers.

 

FUNDRAISING IS STILL IMPORTANT

VFBV’s work to defend the volunteer based and fully integrated CFA continues, and VFBV is still actively fundraising.

The new Federal Legislation has changed the legal ground rules to protect fire and emergency service volunteers from industrial interference, but it must be supported in the Fair Work Commission and possibly Federal courts, so we still look to the public for their support.

The public, corporate donors, community organisations and volunteers can donate to the VFBV Valuing Volunteers Fund, BSB 633 000, Account number 157 728 221, send a cheque to the Valuing Volunteers Fund, PO Box 453, Mt Waverley 3149, or make a donation by visiting www.mycause.com.au/cfa

Note that VFBV is a non-party political organisation: it does not accept donations from political parties.

 

CANCER LAW

In the last edition of FireWise, we urged volunteers to remind their local Members of Parliament of the commitment the Government made to Victorian volunteers and paid firefighters two years ago.

Sadly, nothing has happened since then, Parliament has closed until February 2017, and this important issue for all firefighters remains unresolved.

Labor’s commitment just before it took power in 2014, said “Victorian legislation for career and volunteer firefighters will reflect the cancers covered and timeframes for duty of service as in the Tasmanian legislation”. Importantly, this promise explicitly contained no reference to unequal treatment or extra eligibility requirements for volunteers.  The Government has since hinted at imposing a discriminatory extra requirement for volunteers to prove an arbitrary number of turnouts before they become eligible for compensation and VFBV will be extremely disappointed if this eventuates.

Your local MPs need to know volunteers won’t accept second best just because they are not paid. Click here for more information on the firefighters' cancer law.

 

MORE FOR ONLINE SUBSCRIBERS

More than 1,000 subscribers now receive this page as an electronic newsletter.  You can also sign up to receive VFBV’s popular Two Minute Briefing from the VFBV/CFA Joint Committees. 

Register here to receive these and other VFBV updates.

Our Facebook page is at www.facebook.com/cfavol and you can follow us on Twitter at www.twitter.com/vfbv or on Instagram @volunteer_fire_brigades_vic

Published in VFBV News

The State Government has responded to the Fiskville Inquiry’s final report, endorsing all of the recommendations, either fully or in part - download the State Government response here or download the Fiskville Inquiry Final Report here.

VFBV now hopes it will be the trigger for urgent Government and CFA action on replacing Fiskville’s vital training capacity, ensuring properly monitored water quality standards for all CFA training sites, and maintaining ongoing support to all of those affected by exposure at the Fiskville site.

The announcement follows years of work from VFBV since the issue was first raised in the media in December 2011.   VFBV has consistently called for urgent remedial action at the site, independent, expert monitoring, ongoing support for everyone affected, and the urgent replacement of Fiskville’s lost training capacity. 

The closure of the site came in 2015 after the surprising discovery that water quality problems were persisting in spite of the reassurances of WorkSafe, the EPA, technical experts and CFA.

The State Government’s response to the Fiskville Inquiry is not the end of the issue, but a cue for action to resolve the problems left in Fiskville’s wake.

Published in HomePage Featured
Wednesday, 07 December 2016 17:10

2 Minute Briefing - Training

Issue 16: December 2016

Quick snapshot of the priority issues and actions worked through at the most recent Joint Committee meeting between CFA and VFBV. (Meeting held 20/11/2016)

NEW DEPUTY CHIEF OFFICER - TRAINING

The CFA Training department has again been restructured, with the Committee informed that Training has now been transferred to the F&EM (Fire & Emergency Management) directorate, and is now led by a Deputy Chief Officer - Training.

VFBV welcomes Acting DCO Gregg Paterson AFSM to the new position. Gregg brings energy and enthusiasm to the role and the Committee looks forward to working with him.

PUMPING PIT RECOMMISSIONING    

VFBV has been strongly advocating for CFA to commit to a remediation and recommissioning program for pumping pits, whose use was temporarily suspended back in February 2015. There are approximately 91 pumping pits in use across the state. Of vital importance is the need for pumping pits to be safe, and for there to be an efficient and timely program to clean, monitor water quality and ultimately recommission them for use.

For many brigades, pumping pits form the only safe, controlled and viable option for brigades to train in drafting and other related pump operations and skills maintenance.

CFA have now issued a Work Instruction on the Management of Pumping Pits, and have implemented an approved recommissioning process. CFA have advised that the ultimate decision to recommission and fund the cost of these works rests with the Region. Water testing costs between $300/$400, with the cost of cleaning and refilling to be approximately $1,000.

Delegates have raised concern that due to Regional budget limitations, these costs will be pushed back to Brigades. CFA’s advice to these concerns is that Brigades should go through the Chain of Command and ultimately to Assistant Chief Officers who hold oversight of the Regions.

AVAILABILITY OF CHAINSAW TRAINING

The Committee continues to advocate for much greater access and support for members to attain chainsaw qualification and training. Despite two Mobile Chainsaw Training trailers developed through the Mobile Prop Project back in 2015 to add additional capability for members to access chainsaw training, a UFU grievance over the training package, equipment and trailer use and design has resulted in a yearlong ban on paid instructors using these trailers to deliver any chainsaw training, resulting in the widespread cancellation of CFA planned courses for volunteers. 

CFA advises that the IR issues are now close to being resolved, and has confirmed that there are no IR restrictions that relate to volunteer trainer and assessors accessing, towing and using the trailers.

Whilst disappointed that brigades are currently unable to access paid support and delivery of chainsaw courses through CFA’s training pool, the Committee has requested that CFA increase the number of endorsed volunteer trainer and assessors to deliver this training, so that brigades can access this vital training for the upcoming fire season. CFA has agreed to streamline and prioritize volunteer access to the new trailers, equipment and training package, as well as investigate an EOI process for subject matter experts to be identified and endorsed for volunteer training and delivery.

ELECTRICAL SAFETY MOBILE PROPS

Despite significant work and progress on the design of an electrical safety mobile trailer prop back in 2014/15 CFA funding for the prop lapsed and is no longer available, leaving the project completely un-funded.   VFBV is advocating for these mobile props to be fully funded and reprioritized. Electrical Safety and specifically skills maintenance for Low Voltage Fuse Removal has been identified as a state-wide gap for quite some time, and the Committee believes the electrical safety mobile props would significantly improve capability and member access to this vital training and knowledge.

FIRST AID TRAINING

Early results from CFA’s new First Aid Training arrangements with St John appears to be positive, with great acceptance of the out-of-session course work that cuts down the course duration and allows students to do some of the course work at home and in their own time. Adjustments for postal delays is now being factored into future courses.

Published in Training Committee
Wednesday, 07 December 2016 17:07

2 Minute Briefing - Communications & Technology

Issue 16: December 2016

Quick snapshot of the priority issues and actions worked through at the most recent Joint Committee meeting between CFA and VFBV. (Meeting held 26/11/2016)

DIGITAL SCANNER/LISTENING SETS TIER 3 STILL OPEN

The Digital Scanner subsidisation program advocated by VFBV and run in partnership with CFA has been an overwhelming success, since it began in October 2015. So far, 10,478 digital scanners have been ordered and shipped to Brigades and Groups across the state.  The subsidy budget, and the savings to members, represents over $3 million dollars.

More than 970 Brigades and 80 Groups have placed and received their Tier 1 & 2 orders, and Tier 3 is still under way. Under the Tier 1 program, every Brigade was entitled to a minimum of eight units at the subsidised price.  On average, Brigades ordered 3.5 units under Tier 1, and Groups took up one of their guaranteed minimum of two units.  Under Tiers 1 and 2 members paid $150 for a scanner, with the subsidy budget paying the other $296.75

Scanners are still available: CFA is still accepting Tier 3 orders, from Brigades, Groups and individual members. Tier 3 units are available at cost price, which was significantly reduced due to the bulk orders placed during the subsidisation program.  Members can order units for $446.75 plus postage and handling, while stocks last.  Order forms are still available from the VFBV website.

EAS PAGER OBSERVATION REPORTS MONITORING

Each quarter, the committee receives detailed reporting on the number of EAS Page observation reports submitted, including the type of issues reported, the length of time to investigate, and the results of each investigation. Encouragingly, since implementing this reporting cycle, the committee has observed a significant reduction in the time taken to resolve issues and the quality of reporting. Over the year, the 3 most common reported faults have been; not receiving messages (~38%), physical damage to the pager (~18%), and lost or stolen pagers (~10%).

Members are reminded of the importance of lodging EAS fault reports when they experience problems with their pagers. This information is critically important in identifying network performance issues as well as monitoring the health and status of the current pagers. The committee has requested that CFA investigate and prioritize the introduction of Electronic Observation Reports in addition to the current reporting option, which would provide more timely feedback to the member raising the concern. CFA has agreed to investigate, scope and report back.

PROPOSED REGIONAL RADIO DISPATCH SERVICE EXPANSION TO OUTER METRO DISTRICTS

For many years now VFBV and the Committee have been advocating for the Regional Mobile Radio Network to be expanded to cover the outer metropolitan districts. This network provides high quality digital P25 network capabilities and much improved radio audio quality. Under the Regional Radio Dispatch Service project announced back in 2013, the CFA network has been upgraded to the new digital network in all CFA districts excluding Districts 7, 8, 13 and 14 and has been a resounding success.

Unfortunately, these four Districts were not funded through RRDS and are still operating on the analogue dispatch network. Given these are amongst the busiest Districts in the state, the inability to access the digital dispatch network has far reaching consequences, one of them being these Districts will have no means to access improved functionality, such as the short status button functionality when it finally rolls out. Given the impact short status messaging will have on reducing radio congestion, this would provide a significant improvement to the busy outer metropolitan dispatch systems. In principle approval for expansion has now been announced, and CFA is now working with EMV, VicPol and SES in scoping a new project to potentially deliver on this commitment. VFBV welcomes this long awaited progress and will continue our advocacy to ensure the project receives adequate funding and government priority.   

Wednesday, 07 December 2016 17:03

2 Minute Briefing - Volunteerism

Issue 16: December 2016

Quick snapshot of the priority issues and actions worked through at the most recent Joint Committee meeting between CFA and VFBV. (Meeting held 20/11/2016)

CFA HQ DIRECTORATE RESTRUCTURE – VOLUNTEERS & STRATEGY

The CFA Volunteerism department has again been restructured, with the Committee informed that the old Learning & Volunteerism directorate has been split, with training now being transferred to the F&EM (Fire & Emergency Management) directorate, and Volunteerism now merging with Strategy to form the new directorate of Volunteers & Strategy.

The Brigade Support Team has now been amalgamated with the Volunteerism team, with this team looking to focus on more field based staff connecting with brigades at the local level.  They will explore recruitment and re-engagement, brigade sustainability, decline and growth patterns across the state, hub and cooperative models, and community connectedness. 

The overall vision of the Volunteers and Strategy Team is to facilitate the growth of volunteerism and strengthen brigade sustainability. VFBV welcomes Executive Director John Haynes to the new position. John brings energy and enthusiasm to the role and the Committee looks forward to working with him. John’s vision is to look at more outcome based measurements, such as what we measure before, during and after fires – not just measuring performance based on time out the door.

CFA ANNUAL PLAN 2016-17 RELEASED

CFA has released its Annual Plan for 2016-17 that outlines its priorities for this period. This year’s plan outlines the five priority plan themes for CFA during the 2016/17 year. The five themes are; Capability; Culture; Stakeholder Engagement; Strategy, Plan and Direction; and Systems and Processes.
 You can download a copy at; http://news.cfa.vic.gov.au/news/cfa-plan-a-must-read-for-all.html

VOLUNTEER TRAVEL REIMBURSEMENT & ARRANGEMENTS

Following reports of variances between CFA Regions and Districts in how volunteer travel reimbursements are paid and authorised, the committee has requested CFA develop a State-wide Business Rule that will standardise and clarify arrangements. VFBV’s long held policy is that no volunteer should be out of pocket due to their volunteering. The Committee continues to advocate for improved access to CFA vehicles – including corporate pool vehicles when required to travel for training or other CFA related activities that would otherwise create an impost or cost upon volunteers. Should an appropriate vehicle not be available, then volunteers should have access to travel reimbursement, which is currently set at $0.72 per km. CFA has agreed to progress a policy review.

AWARD WINNING PROGRAM FOR KIDS

A VFBV-supported project for secondary students has won the Education Award at this year’s Fire Awareness Awards, thanks to local CFA volunteers and the Maryborough Education Centre. The Emergency Services Journey takes Year 9 students to their local brigade, Police and ambulance station to see how each service operates and learn practical skills. What began as a Brigades in Schools program run by volunteers from the Maryborough Fire Brigade in 2004, has been developed into an innovative course at the Maryborough Education Centre by teacher, VFBV Board member and CFA volunteer Samantha Rothman.

The course also includes a camp in the Mallee and sessions at a surf life saving club, and the students achieve certificates in Life Saving skills and First Aid. The program includes team and confidence building, with activities like open water swimming and fire brigade competition events. The Emergency Services Journey program is funded by VFBV and the Maryborough Education Centre Principal David Sutton says the school is proud of the students for doing so well, and Samantha Rothman for her work in developing the program. Well done David, Samantha and the Maryborough Brigade!

Published in Volunteerism Committee
Wednesday, 07 December 2016 16:59

2 Minute Briefing - Equipment & Infrastructure

Issue 16: December 2016

Quick snapshot of the priority issues and actions worked through at the most recent Joint Committee meeting between CFA and VFBV. (Meeting held 19/11/2016)

TANKER REAR DECK POD PROTOTYPE BECOMES A REALITY

For a number of years now, VFBV has been advocating for CFA to explore rear deck pods to trial as a possible replacement for rear deck ROPS, similar to those used in the mining industry. Ever since CFA’s decision to no longer manufacture rear deck ROPS and move exclusively to twin cab cab-chassis’, and the loss of DAH’s (Deck access hatches) volunteers have been raising concerns about the difficulty in accessing the rear deck area during jobs requiring crews to frequently move between the cab and the rear deck. The committee has been advocating for CFA to investigate the European body builders, where it has become common practice to purchase a single cab chassis and then build a crew area connected to the cabin as part of the body. This has a number of advantages including; that in a burn over situation all crew on the deck can quickly and safely return to the cabin; a reduction in crew fatigue across long fire-ground shifts; and greater safety when travelling to and from the fire ground and protection from smoke and embers.


The Committee was provided a tour and inspection of a Bell Engineering Heavy Tanker Pod Prototype, by Managing Director Robert Bell. The prototype is a ‘pod’ type construction which can be modified to slip onto any cab chassis. The ROP or rear cabin is fully self contained, very ‘roomy’ and has a large window with viewing access to the cabin and full size door access to the rear deck. A front mounted monitor, crew protection sprays, digital water level indicators on the sides as well as the back, ample storage lockers and an optional hydraulic BA lifter for easy operation are some of the great features. The Committee has requested that Bell Engineering consider loaning the prototype to CFA early next year so that a roadshow can be planned for members to view and inspect the prototype. Mr Bell has generously agreed, and VFBV extends its gratitude and appreciation to Mr Bell and the Bell Engineering Team, and congratulates them on their continued innovation, collaboration and support of Victorian fire services.

BURNOVER VEHICLE ENTRAPMENT RESEARCH - VIDEO

Following a presentation to the Committee earlier in the year from CFA’s Research & Development team, the Committee requested that CFA use this research to create a new burn-over training video that uses historical vision and vision from field testing filmed in February this year. The research team closely duplicated conditions similar to those experienced during the tragic Linton Fires in 1998 to test the response of CFA’s crew protection systems.


Three vehicles were tested, a tanker with ROP and crew protection, an Ultra-light with Gel coating and an Ultra light with foam coating. All vehicles were relatively unscathed with the temperature in the cabin of the tanker sitting at around 40 degrees whilst the outside temperature rose well above 600 degrees. The Committee has provided feedback on the new video, and has requested that a fact sheet be attached and be released along with SOP 9.32 ‘Entrapment Procedure’ for Brigades to use for their pre-summer training. CFA has released an online version on their facebook page.

This type of research is critical to ensuring firefighter safety and educating members on how the crew protection safety systems work, build confidence in those systems and the importance of situational awareness & entrapment procedures.

ROP CUSHION PROTOTYPE

Arcadia Brigade members briefed the committee on a prototype cushion for use in vehicles with rear deck roll over protection. As many would have experienced, the solid fibreglass ROP seat can be hard on your back and very slippery when cornering. The cushions have multiple functions in regards to firefighter safety, back injury reduction and firefighter comfort on long duration shifts amongst them. The Committee has requested they be field tested by 3 brigades in district 22 and will also be offered for testing by brigades in other Districts over the summer whilst analysis is completed.

The Committee had previously authorised a VESEP grant to support the trial, and VFBV thanks the Arcadia Fire Brigade for this pro-active initiative. A proban, a nomex and a marine canvas version are being field and burn tested over the summer.

Wednesday, 07 December 2016 16:53

2 Minute Briefing - Community Safety

Issue 16: December 2016

Quick snapshot of the priority issues and actions worked through at the most recent Joint Committee meeting between CFA and VFBV. (Meeting held 26/11/2016)

PLANNED BURNING AND BUILDING BRIGADE CAPABILITIES

For many years now VFBV has been advocating for a more holistic approach to planned burning, and for CFA to promote the training advantages of participating in planned burns.

The committee has been very pleased to observe that recent planned burns have developed into exercises, not just in fire behaviour and fuel load interactions but also extend to learnings in weather behaviour, impact on flora and fauna, bush heritage and Indigenous fire management practices.

The camps are very practical ‘hands on’ for all involved, each participant is specifically tasked with both coaching and mentoring roles, allowing involvement by volunteers across all aspects of the planned burning. Recent burn camps also saw attendances from Traditional Owners, Trust for Nature (landowners) bird scientists, along with DWELP, plantation owners and CFA paid staff.

The attendees worked well together and contributed experience and expertise, building valuable relationships and creating an atmosphere of co-operation in complex burn scenarios. These camps offer a great opportunity for volunteers to train in realistic settings and gain extensive fire firefighting experience.

The committee has requested CFA produce a brochure which clearly explains and illustrates upcoming Burn Camps to Brigades.

CFA-SES COMMUNITY ENGAGEMENT AND HAZARD AWARENESS FORUM

The joint CFA-SES community engagement forum was held at The Mantra in Lorne on 6th & 7th August, 2016.

The Forum is Victoria’s leading community safety conference for emergency service personnel and an opportunity for members to hear from both front line community safety educators but also leading community engagement specialists.

As well as the usual guest speakers, sessions and presentations, there were also outdoor displays by Coast Guard, CFA and SES, which were a resounding success. This year there were 481 attendees, 70% of those were CFA, 20% SES, this is a dramatic rise from 140 at the first forum in 2011. Volunteers from the North East and South East were very well represented with 65% of attendees coming from these two regions. The forum is growing in popularity and size.

The Committee will be reviewing the feedback provided by this year’s attendee’s and supports the continuation of this important forum. VFBV would like to recognize and congratulate the hard working members of the Volunteer Reference Group whose tireless energy and work helped to make this year’s event another resounding success.

THE FIRE SAFETY PLEDGE

Building on the success of last year’s campaign, CFA launched The Fire Safety Pledge to run between 3 November and 22 December.

Brigades are offered the chance to win one of three $1,000 cash prizes by encouraging members of their community to take the online “Fire Safety Pledge” at www.thefiresafetypledge.com.au

When members of the public make their pledge, they are asked to enter a local CFA brigade they wish to support. At the end of the competition, the brigade with the most number of pledges across the three different categories, will receive a cash prize of $1,000.

The categories are

1. Overall winner (brigade with the most votes)

2. Per-Capita – CFA brigade with the most votes relative to their population, and

3. Tiny Town – for brigades serving a population of less than 100 people.

As at 23 November (just three weeks into the initiative) 6,793 people have taken the pledge.

Any member of the public that takes the pledge will go into a draw to win one of four Samsung Galaxy Tablets or one of four $100 Bunning Gift Vouchers.

The friendly competition within Districts has begun with steep competition amongst seven of the top ten positions. Good Luck…..

BUSHFIRE HOTLINE NUMBER CHANGED

Delegates reported to CFA they have received complaints and concerns from the community surrounding the change of the VicEmergency Hotline number from 1800 240 667 to 1800 226 226. The committee has requested that both numbers continue to work until people get used to the change. CFA advice is both numbers will continue for some time.

Wednesday, 07 December 2016 16:49

2 Minute Briefing - Operations

Issue 16: December 2016

Quick snapshot of the priority issues and actions worked through at the most recent Joint Committee meeting. (Meeting held 27/11/2016). Unfortunately, delegates were advised a few days before the meeting that the Chief Officer was not available to meet, so the Committee decided instead of cancelling the meeting, they would simply meet without CFA.

ROLE OF GROUP

Having waited since 2012 for the most recent CFA review to strengthen the role of group, the Committee notes with disappointment the lack of progress or CFA leadership in the intervening time. Having lost confidence with CFA’s lack of response or support to this review, the Committee has endorsed a proposal for a volunteer led review of the Role of Group, with the intent to meet and gather feedback from all Groups across the State in order to arrive at a formal position that volunteers can then lead and advocate for across the Sector. This work will commence after the FDP and we will be seeking representatives from all Districts to help lead and coordinate a ground up discussion and review during 2017, with a view of driving this important reform. We will be using all the feedback received from CFA’s previous review as well as discussing the countless ideas and suggestions that arose from discussion during the last review but may have been rejected by CFA at the time for one reason or another.

In the previous review, VFBV advocated for;

  • Greater support and recognition from CFA to Groups and the Group structures in local command and control
  • Greater flexibility in how Groups can structure themselves to accommodate and respect local and regional differences and flexibility to match operating models to local risks. A ‘one size fits all’ model is not supported.
  • Strengthening the chain of command to empower and enhance the capability and capacity for local command and control being exercised by CFA members at the local level ensuring that local participation continues as incidents grow in size and complexity
  • Systems of work that recognize and enhance how Brigades, Groups, OO’s and RDO’s interact and support each other in Operational Readiness & Response, Training & Mentoring and Community Education
  • Strengthening the role of Groups in assisting Brigades building local capability for Incident Management and volunteer upskilling and mentoring for Level 2 and 3 incident management roles
  • Greater support and recognition of the important role of Group Comms including role, systems and processes in supporting local incidents and deployments and recognition in CAD processes and procedures of this vital role
  • Greater support and recognition of the important role Groups play in readiness, pre-incident planning & coordination, strike team resourcing & deployment, maintaining situational awareness and training delivery

All members will be provided an opportunity to share their ideas and thoughts, and VFBV will provide leadership, logistical and administrative support to allow local groups and districts to participate in structured discussions and share the information coming from neighbouring groups and districts across the State. If you would like to be involved in the early stages of the project, please contact VFBV at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or (03) 9886 1141 and we will record your details.

40km SPEED LIMITS

VFBV continues to support and advocate for a 40km speed limit for vehicles passing a stationary emergency service vehicle displaying their red and blue flashing lights.

VFBV’s long stated position has been that firefighters working alongside roads and highways when attending to incidents, are put at a significant health & safety risk by passing motorists, and 40km speed limits similar to those for road side workers should be pursued, along with strong public education campaigns to educate motorists of the dangers. The Committee continues to advocate for the establishment of new road rules that will protect all emergency service personnel when working on the side of roads and highways.

 

Published in Operations Committee
Wednesday, 16 November 2016 00:00

FireWise - VFBV's November Column

VFBV's November 2016 column in FireWise is now available.

In this edition:

- Editorial: A Win for Volunteers but Still More To Do

- Fundraising is Still Important

- Cancer Law: Time for Government to Deliver Presumptive Legislation

- Strong Support: 2016/17 Brigade Affiliations approach another record

- VFBV Brigade Delegates' Course

- Youth Network Running Hot

- Promote Your Brigade's Good Work: Fire Safety Media Tips

- How to Apply: VFBV Helps with VESEP Grants

- VEOHRC Review Closing on November 18

- Urban and Rural Championship Dates for 2017

Download this month's column as a PDF file

Download earlier editions

Subscribe to receive the complete FireWise newspaper at the FireWise website.

 

A WIN FOR VOLUNTEERS, BUT THERE’S MORE TO DO

By Andrew Ford, Chief Executive Officer

VFBV has achieved a major breakthrough in the long running dispute flowing from the CFA/UFU enterprise bargaining deal (EBA) that undermines the volunteer based nature of CFA, impacts on the way volunteers are supported and work, and overrides CFA decision making including on matters impacting on volunteers.   

VFBV has successfully campaigned for and achieved a change to the Federal Fair Work Act that protects volunteers and ensures the volunteer nature of CFA cannot be undermined by an Enterprise Bargaining Agreement between CFA and the UFU.  The Federal Fair Work Act changes were approved by the Senate on 10 October with support from all Coalition and cross bench independent Senators other than Senator Lambie from Tasmania, and have been given Royal Assent which confirms them as law as of now.

The changes to the Fair Work Act apply to the current EBA negotiations and also all future CFA EBAs. 

This means that VFBV has also achieved the outcome being pursued in the Victorian Supreme Court. 

Our core claim in the Supreme Court was to achieve a declaration that it would be unlawful for CFA to enter into the proposed 2016 CFA/UFU EBA because of clauses that contradict and override the CFA Act - the changes to the Federal Fair Work Act now disallow this in federal law.   

The change to the Fair Work Act makes it unlawful for the EBA to include arrangements that restrict or limit CFA’s ability to:

  •          Engage or deploy volunteers
  •          Provide support or equipment to volunteers
  •          Manage its relationship with or work with any other emergency management body in relation to its volunteers
  •          Manage it operations in relation to volunteers
  •          Consult with volunteers

or require or permit CFA to act other than in accordance with the powers, functions and duties conferred or imposed on CFA by the CFA Act in relation to volunteers.

The changes to the Fair Work Act prohibit the CFA from having EBA arrangements that require CFA to consult or reach agreement with any other person or body before taking any action regarding the things listed above.  The changes to the Fair Work Act also disallow the CFA from having EBA arrangements that restrict or limit CFA’s ability to recognise, value, respect or promote the contribution of CFA volunteers to the wellbeing and safety of the community.  And the changes prohibit the CFA from having EBA arrangements that require or permit CFA to act other than in accordance with the powers, functions and duties conferred or imposed on CFA (ie by the CFA Act) in relation to volunteers.

The changes also enable VFBV to make a submission to the Fair Work Commission (FWC) when matters before the FWC affect, or could affect, CFA volunteers.  To date VFBV has been locked out of any ability to raise concerns in the FWC even when matters contained in the CFA/UFU EBA directly impacted on volunteers.

This doesn’t mean our legal action is over completely but it does make the path ahead clearer. 

The Supreme Court action has been fundamental in our efforts to prevent the CFA and UFU using the loophole that previously existed in the Fair Work Act to enable the CFA Board to enter into an EBA that we say is beyond the lawful intent and powers of the CFA Act.  The CFA will no longer be able to use this loophole.   Our action in the Supreme Court has been costly and resource intensive, but also vitally important and fundamental to shaping the ground for a fairer process for volunteers at the new Federal level. 

The change to the Federal laws (Fair Work Act) now achieves what VFBV has been seeking from the Victorian Supreme Court.  Our efforts from here on are better devoted to ensuring the Federal arrangements for protecting the future of CFA hold firm, working to ensure CFA and others are focussed on supporting and strengthening volunteerism for the benefit of future generations and getting on with protecting our communities. 

The focus of our advocacy and legal action will now shift to the Federal sphere and play out in the Fair Work Commission and from there the Federal court system if required.  We will also be freed up to focus on potential challenge to the Fair Work Amendment in the High Court of Australia as threatened by the UFU.  At the Federal level we will not be alone – the Fair Work Commission now has clear rules to follow which protect emergency service volunteers; the Federal Employment Minister has also committed to challenge the EBA at the full bench of the Fair Work Commission if required, and if the matter goes to the High Court then the Federal Government will have a keen interest in defending the robustness of their legislation.

We think VFBV and volunteers can now set the scene by proactive leadership to ensure CFA remains a strong and successful volunteer based organisation where paid staff and volunteers work side by side for the benefit of the communities we serve. 

VFBV greatly appreciates the support and monetary donations that have made our campaign action to date possible.  A big thank you to everyone who has supported our campaign to date.  There is still an enormous amount of work to do and we are still seeking donations and support, so please keep spreading the word.

 

FUNDRAISING IS STILL IMPORTANT

While VFBV has discontinued its action in the Victorian Supreme Court in the wake of changes to the Federal Fair Work Act that has enabled the legal protections we set out to achieve, our campaign to defend the volunteer based CFA continues, and fundraising is still important.

The new Federal Legislation has changed the legal ground rules to defend fire and emergency service volunteers from industrial interference, but it must be supported in the Fair Work Commission and possibly Federal courts.

We still need volunteers to actively seek donations from the public and other supporters, to fund our campaign to maintain and strengthen volunteer capacity for future generations, and stop industrial interference in CFA volunteers’ service to Victoria.

Members of the public, corporate donors, community organisations and volunteers can make a direct deposit via the Bendigo Bank to the VFBV Valuing Volunteers Fund, BSB 633 000, Account number 157 728 221, send a cheque to the Valuing Volunteers Fund, PO Box 453, Mt Waverley 3149, or make a donation by visiting www.mycause.com.au/cfa

Note that VFBV is a non-party political organisation: it does not accept donations from political parties.

 

TIME FOR GOVERNMENT TO DELIVER PRESUMPTIVE LEGISLATION

Recent media reports have suggested presumptive legislation for Victorian firefighters may be announced soon, so it is time to remind your local Members of Parliament this is important to volunteers, and also remind them of the commitment the Government made to Victorian volunteers and paid firefighters two years ago.

Before the 2014 State Election, Labor announced that “Victorian legislation for career and volunteer firefighters will reflect the cancers covered and timeframes for duty of service as in the Tasmanian legislation”.Importantly, this promise explicitly contained no reference to unequal treatment or extra eligibility requirements for volunteers.  The Government has since hinted at imposing a discriminatory extra requirement for volunteers to prove an arbitrary number of turnouts before they become eligible for compensation and VFBV will be extremely disappointed if this eventuates.

There are still unanswered questions about the legislation:

  •          will it treat career and volunteer firefighters equally?
  •          will it cover firefighters who have already been diagnosed?

VFBV has long campaigned for presumptive legislation to provide simpler and fairer cancer compensation for all Victorian firefighters, both volunteer and career.

Victorian presumptive legislation should list the same 12 cancers and the same years of service requirements that appear in the legislation already passed by the Commonwealth and most other States.

Presumptive legislation works by reversing the onus of proof.  The cancer is presumed to be work related provided it is one of 12 listed cancers and the firefighter has sufficient years of service.  

Western Australia has now passed presumptive legislation, and South Australia and Queensland led the way with equal treatment for career and volunteer firefighters.  Presumptive legislation is now in place in all States and Territories except NSW and Victoria.

Your local MPs need to know that volunteers will not accept being given second best just because they are not paid.  For more information, go to the Cancer Law page

 

VEOHRC REVIEW CLOSING SOON

Past and present CFA members have until 18 November to contribute to the Independent Review into Equity and Diversity being conducted by the Victorian Equal Opportunity & Human Rights Commission (VEOHRC).

VEOHRC is talking to CFA members about workplace culture, discrimination (including bullying) and sexual harassment. You can tell VEOHRC about the amazing work CFA does as well as any difficult experiences you’ve had. The Review will report in mid-2017.

The online survey is independently hosted by VEOHRC. A paper-based version is also available upon request, or you can arrange a confidential interview on the phone or in person.

You can participate confidentially and anonymously.  Call the confidential phone line (03) 9032 3464, send a confidential email to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or for more information, visit www.victorianhumanrightscommission.com/EDR/

 

2016/17 AFFILIATIONS

The number of Brigades affiliating with VFBV for 2016/17 is on track to match and probably exceed last year’s record number, a sign of continued strong support for the association’s work on behalf of volunteers.

A record 93% of Brigades affiliated with VFBV in 2015/16, and this year a number of Brigades have affiliated with VFBV for the first time in many years.

If you are not sure whether your Brigade or Group’s VFBV Affiliation and Brigade’s VFBV Volunteer Welfare Fund subscription have been paid, contact your Secretary as soon as possible.

The modest cost of $77.50 for VFBV affiliation is the same for all Brigades and Groups.

We also strongly encourage Brigades to subscribe to the VFBV Welfare Fund in the interests of supporting your members in times of personal hardship.  For more information visit the VFBV Welfare Fund page and see the Welfare Fund Frequently Asked Questions page. 

For any enquiries, contact your VFBV State Councillors or call us on (03) 9886 1141.

 

VFBV BRIGADE DELEGATES’ COURSE

VFBV is launching a newly developed short course for Brigade Delegates to District Councils.

Participants completing the course will be awarded two modules from Cert II in Public Safety (Firefighting Operations): PUACOM001C Communicate in the Workplace, and PUACOM002B Provide Services to Clients.

The course will be taken to all Districts over the coming two years, and will give Delegates the chance to gain new skills, network among their peers, improve teamwork and communication, and assist with succession planning for their District Council.

The course consists of two sessions of one day each, with a small amount of work to be done from home, and covers useful skills including: Facilitation, Leadership, Effective Communication, Reporting, Networking, Working in a group, Note Taking, Decision Making, Managing Issues, and Problem Solving.

The course is a very important investment in volunteer leadership skills; talk to your District Council or keep an eye on www.vfbv.com.au for more details.

 

YOUTH NETWORK UPDATE

The VFBV Multi-Agency Youth Network is running hot, with Life Saving Victoria now officially involved, along with VFBV, VICSES, the Red Cross and the Victorian Council of Churches.

Youth Engagement Officer Christine Fryer and our VFBV Support Officers are working with District Councils to organise informal get togethers for young Network members, their District Champions and VFBV District Council executive members, as well as encouraging young volunteers’ attendance at District Council meetings.

District 12 will have an informal event on 13 November, and Districts 9, 10 and 27 will have theirs on 20 November.

Districts 22 and 24 are planning their first gatherings of young members, and District 15 has had its first get together, where they discussed rotating the role of Youth Panel Chair so everyone can lead meetings and initiatives, and appointed a member to design a logo for the Youth Network.

Read FireWise or visit www.vfbv.com.au for updates, or to get involved contact Chris on (03) 9886 1141 or at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

 

VFBV HELPS WITH VESEP GRANTS

If your Brigade is considering applying for a VESEP grant in the future, for a vehicle, new equipment or facilities improvements, start your planning and preparation now.

Click here or go to the VFBV website and type VESEP Resources into the search box in the top right corner of the page, to find a copy or our most recent Application Help Pack and case studies that demonstrate how successful past applications worked.

For additional practical advice, contact your VFBV Support Officer via the VFBV office on (03) 9886 1141.

 

FIRE SAFETY MEDIA TIPS

VFBV encourages Brigades and Groups to make the most of media opportunities to publicise fire safety and the professionalism and contribution of CFA volunteers.

When you have an exercise, training session, summer safety warning or other activity to publicise, make the most of it, with:

  •          a list of what you’d like local media to tell the public
  •          facts and figures about your Brigade or Group
  •          examples of your Brigade’s good work in recent seasons, and
  •          a call to action

The call to action can be about fire safety preparation, volunteering, making a donation or supporting CFA volunteers in another way; prompt the public contribute to their own safety or help your Brigade to provide its essential emergency service to the community.

For VFBV’s sheets helpful publicity tips, facts and figures on CFA volunteers, and this summer’s key messages from CFA and Emergency Management Victoria, email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or for advice, call Peter Beaton on (03) 9886 1141.

 

CHAMPIONSHIP DATES FOR 2017

The VFBV State Urban Junior Championships will be held at Tatura, on 25/26 February 2017.

The VFBV State Urban Senior Championships will take place at Bendigo, on 11 to 13 March 2017.

Visit the Urban and Rural Championships sections of the VFBV website www.vfbv.com.au for the latest rule book, entry forms, and judges/officials nomination forms.

The VFBV State Rural Championships will be at Wodonga on 1 and 2 April 2017.

More details and entry forms will be posted on the Rural Championships page at the VFBV website in the near future.

Published in VFBV News
Tuesday, 25 October 2016 10:18

Important Update for all Volunteers

NOTE TO MEMBERS – 25 October 2016 - Download Media Release Here                                       

IMPORTANT UPDATE FOR ALL VOLUNTEERS

In the last few weeks VFBV has achieved major breakthrough in the long running dispute flowing from the CFA/UFU enterprise bargaining deal (EBA) that undermines the volunteer based nature of CFA, impacts on the way volunteers are supported and work, and overrides CFA decision making including on matters impacting on volunteers.   

VFBV has successfully campaigned for and achieved a change to the Federal Fair Work Act that protects volunteers and ensures the volunteer nature of CFA cannot be undermined by an Enterprise Bargaining Agreement between CFA and the UFU.  The Federal Fair Work Act changes were approved by the Senate on 10 October with support from all Coalition and cross bench independent Senators other than Senator Lambie from Tasmania, and have been given Royal Assent which confirms them as law as of now.

The changes to the Fair Work Act apply to the current EBA negotiations and also all future CFA EBAs.  This means that VFBV has also achieved the outcome being pursued in the Victorian Supreme Court.  Our core claim in the Supreme Court was to achieve a declaration that it would be unlawful for CFA to enter into the proposed 2016 CFA/UFU EBA because of clauses that contradict and override the CFA Act - the changes to the Federal Fair Work Act now disallow this in federal law.   

As a result, yesterday we reached an agreement with the CFA to draw a conclusion to the Victorian Supreme Court Action.  VFBV is of the view that CFA should revisit the EBA given the changes to the Fair Work Act but instead of testing this in the State Supreme Court it will now be a matter to be tested in the Fair Work Commission under the new arrangements which make it unlawful for the EBA to include arrangements that restrict or limit CFA's ability to:

  • Engage or deploy volunteers
  • Provide support or equipment to volunteers
  • Manage its relationship with or work with any other emergency management body in relation to its volunteers
  • Manage it operations in relation to volunteers
  • Consult with volunteers
  • Or require or permit CFA to act other than in accordance with the powers, functions and duties conferred or imposed on CFA by the CFA Act in relation to volunteers.

This doesn’t mean our legal action is over completely but it does make the path ahead clearer.  Instead of continuing our costly legal action in the Victorian Supreme Court, the focus of our advocacy and legal action will now shift to the Federal sphere and play out in the Fair Work Commission and from there the Federal court system if required.  We will also be freed up to focus on potential challenge to the Fair Work Amendment in the High Court of Australia as threatened by the UFU.  At the Federal level we will not be alone – the Fair Work Commission now has clear rules to follow which protect emergency service volunteers; the Federal Employment Minister has also committed to challenge the EBA at the full bench of the Fair Work Commission if required, and if the matter goes to the High Court then the Federal Government will have a keen interest in defending the robustness of their legislation.

The change to the Federal laws (Fair Work Act) now achieves what VFBV have been seeking from the Victorian Supreme Court.  Our efforts from here on are better devoted to ensuring the federal arrangements for protecting the future of CFA hold firm, working to ensure CFA and others are focussed on supporting and strengthening volunteerism for the benefit of future generations and getting on with protecting our communities. 

It was never our wish to be held up in a protracted court case.  We think VFBV and volunteers can now set the scene by proactive leadership to ensure CFA remains a strong and successful volunteer based organisation where paid staff and volunteer work side by side for the benefit of the communities we serve. 

The Supreme Court action has been fundamental in our efforts to prevent the CFA and UFU using the loophole that previously existed in the Fair Work Act to enable the CFA Board to enter into an EBA that we say is beyond the lawful intent and powers of the CFA Act.  The CFA will no longer be able to use this loophole.   Our action in the Supreme Court has been costly and resource intensive.  VFBV greatly appreciates the support and monetary donations that have made the Supreme Court action possible.  A big thank you to everyone who has supported our campaign to date.

There is still a possibility that further legal action might be required given that the UFU have claimed they will challenge the Fair Work Act amendment in the High Court and there is also real possibility that VFBV will need to defend the rights of volunteers in the Federal sphere so we will continue fund raising to support our legal action and further campaign efforts.

VFBV will also be arranging detailed briefings for every VFBV District Council to explain the success achieved by the change to the Fair Work Act, the outcomes achieved by our Victorian Supreme Court Action and the work remaining in the Federal sphere.  VFBV will be working hard with CFA and Government to provide the leadership required to ensure CFA remains a great place to volunteer and an organisation ready to serve communities.  There is a lot of work to do, and with summer on our door step we want to get on with it as quickly as possible.

SUMMARY OF CHANGES TO THE FAIR WORK ACT

The changes to the Fair Work Act make it unlawful for organisations such as CFA to have EBA arrangements that restrict or limit CFA’s ability to:

  • Engage or deploy volunteers
  • Provide support or equipment to volunteers
  • Manage its relationship with or work with any other emergency management body in relation to its volunteers
  • Manage it operations in relation to volunteers

The changes to the Fair Work Act prohibit the CFA from having EBA arrangements that require CFA to consult or reach agreement with any other person or body before taking any action regarding the things listed above.  The changes to the Fair Work Act also disallow the CFA from having EBA arrangements that restrict or limit CFA’s ability to recognise, value, respect or promote the contribution of CFA volunteers to the wellbeing and safety of the community.  And the changes prohibit the CFA from having EBA arrangements that require or permit CFA to act other than in accordance with the powers, functions and duties conferred or imposed on CFA (ie by the CFA Act) in relation to volunteers.

The changes also enable VFBV to make a submission to the Fair Work Commission (FWC) when matters before the FWC affect, or could affect, CFA volunteers.  To date VFBV has been locked out of any ability to raise concerns in the FWC even when matters contained in the CFA/UFU EBA directly impacted on volunteers.

Published in VFBV News
Wednesday, 05 October 2016 09:23

VFBV Multi Agency Youth Network Takes Off

The VFBV Multi-Agency Youth Network is really taking off; young members are already organising their first activities in four Districts, and 17 VFBV Districts have identified experienced volunteer Champions to support the young volunteers in their work.

In the meantime, VICSES and the Red Cross have begun targeted campaigning to their young members through the months of September and October.  

With support from VFBV, District 11 is working on a pilot to launch a multi-agency youth program in schools, District 13 is preparing a forum for young volunteers in the new year, District 14 is instigating social events where young volunteers can discuss and present ideas for ongoing projects, and in Districts 8, 12, 15 and 16, young volunteers are already getting involved in their VFBV District Councils.

Volunteer champions and more young volunteers are still needed in Districts 4, 5, 6, 7 and 22.  Contact Chris Fryer on (03) 9886 1141 or at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Published in VFBV News
Thursday, 15 September 2016 00:00

VESEP Resources: VFBV Helps with Your Application

The Volunteer Emergency Services Equipment Program (VESEP) offers grants up to a maximum of $100,000 excluding GST.  VESEP contributes $2 for every $1 of funding contributed by the Brigade or Group.

BE READY FOR POSSIBLE FUTURE FUNDING ROUNDS: See below for VFBV's 2016 VESEP APPLICATION HELP PACK and case studies to show you how

About the Program

The million program offers State Government grants of up to $100,000 each, for trucks, equipment and building works. The grants are on a two-for-one basis, giving three dollars in spending power for every one dollar raised by the Brigade and local community.

Eligible volunteer groups include CFA, VICSES, Life Saving Victoria and Australian Volunteer Coast Guard Association (see www.emv.vic.gov.au for other eligible organisations).

VFBV was directly involved in the design of the VESEP program and its later expansion to include small equipment for training and operational use, and the program is now in its 16th year, supporting emergency service volunteers who play a crucial role in responding and assisting their fellow Victorians in times of emergency 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

The financial support provided by the Government recognises the invaluable support Victorian communities continue to provide to their local agencies.

VFBV support for your Brigade's application

Each year, VFBV provides support to Brigade and Groups in preparing their applications.

At the bottom of this page you will find copies of VFBV’s 2016 Application Help Pack and case studies from past years that include useful tips and advice from Brigades whose applications were successful. We also offer personalised advice for Brigade/Groups that might have questions or are after guidance with their application. Members can contact a VFBV Support Officer or State Councillor to discuss, or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. and we’ll put in you in touch with someone who can help.

Additional support is available from CFA’s Project Coordinator Diane Frost (This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or 03 9262 8630) or your operations manager. Program details are also available on Brigades Online (Brigade > Property & Equipment > Brigade Owned Vehicles > VESEP).

One important tip is to start early: look at what your Brigade and community will need and start planning for fundraising and the VESEP application.  This takes a lot of the pressure off you if a future funding round is announced with just a short window to make applications.

Published in Uncategorised

SEEKING PUBLIC DONATIONS - DONATE VIA MYCAUSE cheque or bank deposit

Volunteer Fire Brigades Victoria has launched a crowdfunding campaign to give the public the chance to support the work we are doing to protect, advocate and represent CFA volunteers, including our Supreme Court action.

The campaign ‘Supporting and Valuing our CFA Volunteers’ is now live on Australian crowdfunding platform, mycause at www.mycause.com.au/cfa

  

To donate by cheque:

Cheques should be made out to:

VFBV – Valuing Volunteers Fund

And posted to:

VFBV

PO Box 453

Mt Waverley Vic. 3151

You can also donate via Direct Deposit to this account:

Account Name: Valuing Volunteers Fund
BSB: 633000 (Bendigo Bank)
Account Number: 157 728 221

As you know, VFBV is fighting to maintain CFA as a volunteer based and fully integrated fire and emergency service with employees fully integrated with volunteers to provide seamless public safety services to Victorians. This is what CFA is under our CFA Act.

The community volunteer nature of CFA is under attack from the industrial deal done by the Andrews Victorian Government and Peter Marshall of the United Firefighters Union. The deal negatively impacts on CFA as a volunteer based and fully integrated organisation, its operations and support for volunteers including consultation.

It is an attempt to change the nature of CFA by using an anomaly in the Commonwealth Workplace Relations Act which enables an EBA to override state legislation once the EBA is registered by the Commonwealth Fair Work Commission.

The Supreme Court trial on the lawfulness of the new CFA Board adopting the proposed CFA/UFU Enterprise Bargaining Agreement will begin on 22 September 2016 and should run for up to five days.

The CFA/United Firefighters Union Enterprise Bargaining Agreement, approved by the new government-appointed CFA Board, would see:

• The powers of the Chief Officer overridden;
• The union given power of veto on issues affecting volunteer based and fully integrated organisation, operations and support;
• Restrictions in the EBA on effective volunteer consultation rights under the CFA Volunteer Charter;
• Other clauses that are contrary to the CFA Act, and
• Volunteers treated as second class just because they are not paid.

Only Volunteer Fire Brigades Victoria is left to defend CFA from the deal and its detrimental effect for CFA services to the Victorian public.

The Emergency Services Minister Jane Garrett shared our volunteer concerns, refused to support the deal and resigned in June. The CFA Board that was opposing the deal was sacked by the Andrews Government. The CEO, Lucinda Nolan and Chief Officer, Joe Buffone subsequently resigned in protest over the deal. The current CFA Board and administration are failing to stand up for CFA volunteers and kow-towing to unlawful UFU demands.

The campaign, particularly through the courts, costs money. Volunteer Fire Brigades Victoria does not intend to use government grant funds or individual brigade affiliation fees to pay for the campaign, so we are asking the community that we serve to support us. This funding will be used to pay for Supreme Court and other action to preserve and protect the powers of the CFA Act.

VFBV and volunteers have made it very clear that we are not against our paid colleagues and have no interest in interfering in their legitimate pay and conditions.

Our vision is for CFA to be a modern and contemporary emergency service where volunteers and paid staff work side by side as equals and respect one another.

Encouraging, maintaining and strengthening the capacity of volunteers is vitally important for Victoria, and we are calling on those who value the capacity, determination and service of the volunteers to please support our campaign in the Supreme Court on September 22 by donating to our campaign on mycause.

Members of the public can learn more and make a donation online here.

See the media release here.

Published in HomePage Featured
Wednesday, 14 September 2016 00:00

Position Vacant - VFBV Support Officer

VFBV Support Officer – West/South West Regional Victoria (Districts 4, 5, 6, 7, 15, 16, 17)

VFBV is seeking to appoint a VFBV Support Officer to work in regional Victoria with VFBV District Councils, Brigades and volunteers to facilitate consultation, issues resolution and volunteer engagementThis is an existing position, with the incumbent leaving the role.

In addition to relevant skills, candidates will need to understand CFA and volunteerism, be good listeners and be able to navigate through complex issues resolution, be self-starters and have a passion to improve arrangements that benefit the welfare and efficiency of CFA volunteers.

Extensive regional Victorian work travel is envisaged and flexible work base locations will be considered for the position, with the priority focus to assign a support officer in the CFA West/South West Region covering Districts 4,5,6,7 15,16,17)

Flexible working arrangements, to cater for extensive evening and weekend work, will be tailored to match the needs of our volunteer membership base.

This is a full time position giving the right candidate an opportunity to really put his/her stamp on the VFBV of the future.

All applications must include both a current resume and a cover letter addressing the key selection criteria outlined in the attached position description.

Send applications to the CEO, VFBV, PO Box 453, Mt. Waverley, Vic. 3149 or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

 

Applications close 26th September, 2016.

For further information contact Cathie Smith on 03 9886 1141

Download the Position Description here

Return to the VFBV website

Published in VFBV News

UPDATE FOR MEMBERS - 23 AUGUST 2016

Yesterday, Monday 22 August, the Federal Government released its draft legislation, the Fair Work Amendment (Respect for Emergency Services Volunteers) Bill 2016 in accordance with its commitment made during the Federal Election (you can download a copy of the Bill below).

VFBV was able to provide valuable input to the development of the legislation, and we are very pleased that it has shaped up in a way that we believe meets our concerns and deals with the practical issues affecting volunteers.

The legislation will be a simple change to the Fair Work Act, making it objectionable for workplace agreements to restrict or limit the emergency service organisation’s ability to:

  •          engage or deploy its volunteers;
  •          provide support or equipment to those volunteers;
  •          manage its relationship with, or work with, any recognised emergency management body in relation to those volunteers;
  •          otherwise manage its operations in relation to those volunteers;

The legislation will also provide an ability for volunteers, through bodies such as VFBV, to make submissions to Fair Work Australia in respect of these issues if we have any concerns.

The amendments aim to fix an anomaly in Commonwealth law that affects CFA volunteers and the volunteers of other emergency service organisations covered by the Fair Work Act. The anomaly, which has been of concern over recent months, allows enterprise agreements for paid emergency service workers to override State emergency management laws such as the CFA Act.

For CFA volunteers, the anomaly means that if the proposed UFU agreement was adopted under current Commonwealth industrial law, it would effectively allow industrial interference into the organisation, operation and support of CFA volunteers, and CFA decision making affecting volunteers.

The Federal Government proposes to table the legislation next week, the first sitting week of the new Parliament.  We are hopeful that it will get support from all sides of politics in both Houses of Parliament, and volunteers from Victoria and other States will be working with MPs and Senators to explain the need for, and benefits of, the legislation and the importance of it to volunteers.

The legislation has no impact on pay negotiations, but does provide a mechanism to address the concerns that have been broadly discussed about the current EBA.

The votes of independents and smaller parties may be crucial in getting the legislation through the Senate, and there are some early signs of support.  Newly elected Senator Derryn Hinch has been on radio this morning, expressing his support, and South Australian Senator Nick Xenophon has written to the Council of Australian Volunteer Fire Associations (CAVFA), expressing his support for moves to rectify the anomaly, so we are hopeful that this is a sign of support to come.

In the meantime, VFBV’s preparation for the Supreme Court action beginning on 22 September is under way, and one of the most important things Brigades can be doing is helping us promote the fundraising for this initiative, and encouraging people to support volunteers by visiting our website www.vfbv.com.au to make a donation, or fundraising through work with community groups, sausage sizzles and other local efforts.

Victoria’s Premier Daniel Andrews, the new Minister for Emergency Services James Merlino, the CFA Board and management, and the UFU Secretary Peter Marshall, have all made claims that they have no intention of the EBA negatively impacting on the role of volunteers, the provision of support to volunteers or CFA decision making.  As such, we would expect that they have no problem with the proposed Fair Work legislation, and therefore we expect their support also.

We disagree with their assessment as to whether the proposed EBA does or does not impact on volunteers, and as such we see the Fair Work Act legislative amendment as very sensible and very necessary protection for volunteers and the work we do.

Published in VFBV News

IN THIS UPDATE:

-          Supreme Court Action Tomorrow

-          VFBV Challenges Misleading Public Comments

-          What We Requested from CFA

-          What Little We Got In Return

 

VFBV INJUNCTION APPLICATION TO SUSPEND EBA PROCESSING

Our injunction to suspend the processing of the UFU EBA because it contains clauses contrary to the CFA Act affecting volunteers will be considered by the Supreme Court on Wednesday morning.

------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

MISLEADING PUBLIC COMMENTS BY CFA CEO FRANCES DIVER

In repeated statements to the media, CFA CEO Frances Diver has said that as part of the VFBV-CFA consultation arrangements CFA had provided VFBV with “extensive documentation”.  This is simply untrue and we are disappointed that Ms Diver would try to rewrite the truth.

Ms Diver’s failure to present the facts with accuracy also extends to claims that the arrangements negotiated with UFU, principally through a Statement of Intent document by CFA and UFU, provide protection to volunteers and the role they play and somehow protects the powers of the Chief Officer under the CFA Act. This is simply wrong. 

There are two critical problems with the ‘Statement of Intent’ document, its supposed protections for volunteers are very limited at best and at any rate the document has no legal standing and is unenforceable.  If the EBA is registered it is not impacted by the statement of intent documents and where its terms and requirements differ from the CFA Act, it prevails over the Act as a matter of law.

That is why we are left with no option other than to take legal action to try and stop the EBA while it still contains clauses which negatively impact on volunteers and the operations of CFA as a volunteer based fully integrated service.

WHAT WE GOT FROM CFA

In respect to Ms Diver’s public claims that “CFA has provided VFBV with extensive documentation” during the supposed consultation period, here are the facts.

The only information we received from CFA was:

  1. At the start of the period for consultation, CFA gave VFBV a single copy of version 17.4 of the proposed EBA on 24 June.  The following week the document was made generally available to CFA members on the CFA website.
  2. On 12 August 2016 (at 10:57 am) – A letter from CFA lawyers advising VFBV that CFA had considered the matters raised by VFBV and in light of the bargaining position of the UFU and in the context of the policy position of the Victorian Government, no further changes had been able to be agreed.  CFA attached a draft 2½ page joint statement of intent by CFA and UFU, and a draft one page letter from the CFA Chair to the CFA Chief Officer instructing that the draft EBA has been approved by the CFA Board.
  3. On 12 August 2016 – A letter from CFA Lawyers notifying VFBV of CFA’s intention to request that employees approve the EBA by voting for it etc.  Although not sent directly to VFBV, CFA also posted to the CFA intranet at 6:44 pm on 12 August 2016 advising of the CFA Board decision re the proposed EBA, and attaching the letter to the CFA Chief Officer; the CFA/UFU intent statement; the CFA Board resolution; and copy of the final version of the EBA

This information can hardly be described as “extensive documentation”.

WHAT WE REQUESTED FROM CFA

Now compare this to the questions we raised that CFA refused to answer and information we requested that CFA wouldn’t provide to address the concerns identified by VFBV and its members:

  •          Is clause 7A as presented to us (in EBA version 17.4) the full extent of proposed protection for volunteers from alteration of their rights, roles and operations by the proposed EBA?
  •          What is the model of a Greater Alarm Response System (GARS) being proposed to be implemented within CFA?  How will a CFA GARS approach operate in practice?  Has CFA completed an analysis of the volunteer workload created by such an approach, and if so can you please provide this analysis for volunteer consideration?
  •          What is the model that CFA is proposing, to meet its obligation under clause 43.2.7: “seven professional firefighters to fireground incidents are dispatched before commencement of safe firefighting operations…” (District 2, 7, 8, 13, 14, 15 and 27), including:

o   Flow on workload operational and fire ground safety implications for volunteers and volunteer brigades;

o   Step up implications and additional workload implications for volunteer brigades and volunteers at integrated brigades.

o   Impact on support availability to volunteer brigades currently supported by integrated brigades.

o   Impact on integrated brigade paid firefighter crews being more frequently dispatched out of primary brigade service areas on volunteer workload and primary service area risk exposure etc.

  •          What are the “agreed impact of” BASO and Volunteer Support program by persons covered by the proposed EBA? (referenced in clauses 15 & 16).  VFBV continues to contest that the BASO and Volunteer Support Programs are not appropriate inclusions in the Operational EBA and are fundamental non-operational volunteer support programs.  As such any changes to these programs impact on volunteer brigades across Victoria.  Inclusion of the BASO and VSO clauses in this EBA is a direct contradiction of the Premier’s and Minister’s assurances that the proposed EBA has no effect on volunteer brigades.
  •          What process will CFA be using to ensure VFBV and volunteers are genuinely consulted on matters arising from the EBA’s Consultation and Dispute Resolution processes? (Clauses 21, 26, 27 and 58)
  •          What process will CFA be using to ensure VFBV and volunteers are genuinely consulted on matters arising from discussions initiated by Clause 41?  What process will CFA use to ensure the results of that consultation and volunteer inputs specifically - can be genuinely considered in decision making?  How will dispute resolution provide guaranteed fair and equitable outcomes for volunteers?

Because none of this information was provided during the consultation period, VFBV:

  •          wrote to CFA on 29 July further requesting this information;
  •          following CFA’s failure to again provide the requested information, we reiterated the request for it at the meeting with CFA Board on 1 August 2016;
  •          arising from CFA’s continued failure to provide the request information, we again requested the information on 7 August 2016 as part of our submission to the CFA Board in response to their request for VFBV’s suggested amendments to problematic EBA clauses (per the request made by CFA Board at the meeting of 1 August 2016); and,
  •          yet again on 12 August 2016 we requested the information we had sought over the preceding weeks.

Further, on 7 August 2016, following statements made by the CFA Chief Officer to the Legislative Council Committee on Environment and Planning’s Inquiry into fire season preparedness that he had received further information on matters relating to ‘CFA’s 14 threshold issues’, we requested such information, including details on how the threshold issues would be dealt with in a legally enforceable manner in association with the application to register the EBA with the Fair Work Commission.

We are yet to receive this information from CFA.

As members can see from the details above, the information provided to VFBV was negligible and can hardly be said to meet anybody’s definition of ‘extensive documentation’. CFA’s failure to provide important and relevant information to us during the consultation process and in the period thereafter when we were still daring to hope that we could come to a settlement with the new CFA Board that met the obligations and intent of the CFA Act is a bitter disappointment.

Andrew Ford

CEO

Volunteer Fire Brigades Victoria

Published in VFBV News

MEDIA RELEASE - Friday, 12 August 2016

STATEMENT BY VFBV CEO ANDREW FORD ON THE ACTIONS OF THE CFA BOARD TO ADOPT THE UFU’S EBA ON FRIDAY AFTERNOON, 12 AUGUST 2016

Today is a day of infamy that will burn into the memory of every CFA volunteer.

It is the day that that a CFA Board decision, and those Board members who voted for it, betrayed volunteers and ignored their responsibility and obligations to the public of Victoria under the CFA Act and Victoria’s most successful emergency management arrangements.

This evening the CFA Board, made up of a majority Andrews Government-UFU ‘yes’ people accepted the UFU’s Enterprise Bargaining Agreement which will see the powers of the Chief Officer overridden, union interference with volunteer organisation, operations and support, and see volunteers treated as second class just because they are not paid.

The EBA fundamentally alters the nature of CFA organisation, operations and support for volunteers as required by the CFA Act and hands control of key activities within the organisation to the Fitzroy based UFU as part of the grab for power by union secretary Peter Marshall.

The UFU have made no secret of their objective to replace urban volunteers with paid staff, members of the UFU – just look at their various inquiry submissions including the Black Saturday Bushfire Royal Commission for confirmation. They would relegate remaining volunteers to second class status.

Every inquiry and commission has dismissed these submissions and recognised the fundamental importance of the current CFA volunteer arrangements and the need to continually grow our volunteer capacity to keep pace with urbanisation and the growth of bushfire risk because of climate change.

But consideration of these issues was ignored by the majority of the current CFA Board and the Premier and Minister who pushed them to accept the infamous Andrews-Marshall industrial deal.

The fact that the majority succumbed to political lies, manoeuvring and pressure reflects badly on them in the manner they have exercised their duty as CFA Board members.

We say the Board members who supported this deal have ignored their statutory and fiduciary obligations under the CFA Act and Commonwealth corporate law. They must be held accountable for this failure.

After the sacking of the previous CFA Board for acting in a lawful and responsible way, a way that did not suit Premier Andrews and his dirty deal with Peter Marshall, together with the forced resignation of Emergency Services Minister Jane Garrett who acted with enormous integrity in support of CFA and its vital role, outstanding CFA CEO Lucinda Nolan and our Chief Officer Joe Buffone who concluded that the UFU agreement is destructive of CFA efficiency and effectiveness, who is left to defend the real CFA?

After recent sackings and resignations there is only the state’s 60,000 volunteers through their association – VFBV – to stand up for the real CFA and effective public safety services for Victorians.

We have instructed our legal team to take further action immediately to defend the CFA as an effective volunteer based fully integrated fire and emergency service.

Our legal action is unprecedented for volunteers, or in the emergency services – but the consultation process with the CFA has been a sham and our careful analysis ignored.

We now have no other choice if the real CFA is to be defended.

But our campaign to defend CFA will not end there.

Volunteers across the state are mobilising in their local communities and regions. They will make sure Victoria is ready for the summer fire season and at the same time develop local campaigns to mobilise their communities in support of our campaign to defend the real CFA.

Like in countless battles against fires which threaten life and property, CFA volunteers will not give up – it’s just not in our DNA

Published in VFBV News
Friday, 08 July 2016 00:00

VFBV FireWise Column - July 2016

In This Edition

 

Farewell to Chief Officer Joe Buffone

By Andrew Ford, Chief Executive Officer

On behalf of the VFBV Board and volunteer leaders across CFA, it was with sadness and regret that we heard that Chief Officer Joe Buffone tendered his resignation.

The CFA Chief Officer holds a special place in volunteer’s hearts. He has been our operational leader and our symbolic head of authority in our shared mission to protect lives and property. Joe has exercised his responsibilities and authority with honesty, integrity and compassion.

Joe has been very clear in his recent messages and letter of resignation, that as Chief Officer he would have been unable to discharge his legislative responsibilities under the proposed industrial agreement, confirming that the latest changes do not address his fundamental concerns. Joe, just as Minister Jane Garrett and CEO Lucinda Nolan before him, had to choose between following his conscience and his job. As CFA’s most senior operational officer, he has acted with respect and integrity and done everything in his power to protect the safety of Victorian’s and remain impartial. He has, like those before him, been clear and unequivocal about the impacts the proposed agreement would have not just on volunteers but on CFA and its ability to discharge its responsibilities, in particular the powers of the Chief Officer.

Joe was appointed by the Andrews Government on 15 October 2015, and came to CFA from Emergency Management Victoria where he was the Deputy Commissioner of Risk & Resilience. the Andrews Government also appointed the now Ex-CFA CEO Lucinda Nolan in November 2015, a distinguished Deputy Commissioner with Victoria Police with over 30 years’ experience, including acting as Police Commissioner.

Attempts by some to discredit a man that has spent over 25 years in the emergency services encompassing senior roles with the Victoria State Emergency Service, Marine Safety Victoria, Port of Melbourne Corporation and Department of Infrastructure and served with the Australian Defence Force in Special Forces are quite disturbing. Both Joe and Lucinda have spent their entire lives serving the public in senior emergency response roles. Both have withstood the test of time and responsibility over their careers, that such important roles demand.

Just like the Government’s spin about our court injunction “being lifted” and forgetting to tell the Victorian public that it was replaced with an even more onerous Court Order, they have again only told half the story.

Joe resigned on the Tuesday.

Joe has stated publically that Minister Merlino’s statements to the media about the factors underpinning his resignation are “absolutely incorrect”.

VFBV understands that it was after his resignation that Government and/or EMV officials resisted his resignation, prompting discussions about what terms might be required to convince Joe to stay. It is entirely understandable that those terms might have included ensuring Joe had the organisational standing and powers to perform his role without the threat of being administratively overridden; it is also understandable that he might have sought confirmation about the security of his job tenure in order not to be threatened with being sacked if he didn’t toe the Government line against his assessment of the CFA statutory obligations that create and direct his role.

Despite the half stories being quoted by people in the media, VFBV understands that Joe, after carefully considering his options, and concluding that he was simply unable to reconcile what he was being asked to do with what he knows are his statutory and legal obligations, advised Government he would not reconsider his resignation. As Joe reminded volunteers, when things go wrong, it will be the Chief Officer who will be in the stand, as occurred during the Victorian Bushfires Royal Commission. It is therefore incumbent on the person who holds that office, to ensure they have the powers necessary to fulfil their role, and his assessment was frank and fearless. The proposed agreement is not good for CFA, it is not good for volunteers and it is not good for Victoria.

Joe has prosecuted his case in a respectful, professional and poignant way. He has gone to extremes to remain balanced and impartial, and operated as a loyal and honest broker. He will be remembered as the Chief who stood up for what he believes is right, and leaves with our utmost respect and thanks. Joe, your stance to attempt to save CFA has been exemplary.

Thank you for your service and dedication, we won’t forget you.

 

FEDERAL ELECTION IMPACTS ON CFA

As this edition of Firewise goes to print, volunteers across Victoria are working within communities to express their concern about the current CFA/UFU industrial agreement negotiations. The issue has been made a federal election issue by the timing of Victorian Premier Andrews push to ram the deal through and because the deal is using federal industrial relations legislation to override CFA State legislation to give control of CFA to the UFU.

Although some people are saying this is a state issue, it is both a federal and state issue because the UFU deal is using federal industrial legislation to take control of and override CFA state legislation. The links will become clearer as the federal debate proceeds in the new parliament. As this edition goes to print, there is a solution on the table from Malcolm Turnbull, we are still hoping for help with a solution from Bill Shorten and we will continue to pursue support for the necessary changes from all members of parliament.

VFBV and volunteers have remained non-party political throughout this dispute and will remain so. There is no doubt that we have enormous community support across Victoria. Many people have said to volunteers across the State that they share our disgust and anger with Premier Andrews about the sell-out of CFA. In recent days newly appointed Minister Merlino has attacked the integrity of our CFA Chief Officer Joe Buffone who resigned because he said the UFU EBA proposed deal would make it impossible for him to fulfil his statutory role, and this is just another demonstration of how low people pushing this deal are prepared to go. UFU Secretary Peter Marshall, Premier Daniel Andrews and Minister James Merlino have politicised the Fire Services. Public safety should be above party politics, and VFBV deplores the approach this government has taken on this issue, wedging volunteers, their paid colleagues and the community against each other. They have criticised and acted to gag VFBV, CFA Board, CFA CEO, CFA Chief Officer and their own Minister, Jane Garrett for speaking up, but we will not step back or apologise for defending volunteers and the communities they protect. We will not be gagged.

Whatever happens at this 2016 federal election, volunteers need to continue to hold our heads high as we continue to seek a fair hearing on this issue and to sustain Victoria’s proud history of CFA volunteering.

 

CFA/EBA Volunteer Feedback

You can now download the current version of the proposed CFA-UFU Operational Staff Enterprise Agreement 2016 (version 17.4), that has been provided to VFBV for consultation purposes arising from our recent court action to enforce the consultation provisions of the Volunteer Charter.
We now urge you to examine the EBA and use the feedback form available on this website  covering such things as:

  • questions

  • concerns

  • practical Implications

  • local volunteer capacity implications

  • impacts on CFA operating as a fully integrated organisation

  • potential to discourage volunteers or impact on their welfare and efficiency

  • potential impacts on CFA’s volunteer based culture

  • anything that might limit or erode support for volunteers

  • anything that impacts on CFA’s ability to genuinely consult with volunteers


The document should serve to dispel any criticisms of VFBV’s broad concerns and comments made to date as “unfounded and misleading” by Premier Andrews’, new Minister Merlino and UFU leadership.


Clearly this latest version speaks for itself as did earlier versions when they were made public. The matters of concern that we have raised are either written in the document itself or would be the necessary outworkings of the implementation and operation of various clauses on volunteers and the organisation and operation of the CFA as a volunteer based and fully integrated fire and emergency service.


Recent independent legal commentary by Mr Jack Rush QC sums it up well, by stating that the UFU EBA proposal is contrary to the CFA Act because it works against the idea that CFA is first and foremost a volunteer based organisation in which volunteers and paid staff are to work in a fully integrated manner; it undermines the role of volunteers; and it provides unprecedented powers to the UFU.

VFBV’S CONCERNS


At a fundamental level our concerns with previous drafts of the UFU EBA proposal are not addressed. There has been some change in the detail but the EBA still includes clauses that interfere with the Chief Officer’s operational resource decision making autonomy; directly impact on the provision of support to volunteer brigades; affect the way the CFA integrated system works; affect the role of volunteers and impact on CFA brigades across Victoria, not just the 34 Integrated brigades as stated by Premier Andrews and recently appointed Minister Merlino.


Recent claims made by Premier Andrews and Minister Merlino that the UFU EBA proposal only impacts on the work of paid staff or on the way CFA’s 34 Integrated brigades operate is not only fundamentally wrong in terms of the way CFA’s volunteer and integrated brigades network together to respond to incidents but it is also categorically wrong given the fact that:

  • provision of Brigade Administrative Support (BASO) to all CFA volunteer brigades will be altered by clause 15;

  • the support provided by CFA Volunteer Support Officers to CFA volunteer brigades across Victoria will be altered by clause 16;

  • the UFU EBA (17.4) proposal perpetuates the UFU’s long running ban on any volunteer brigade being supported by Community Safety Facilitators despite volunteer brigades repeatedly pointing out that this brigade support initiative is still regarded as one of the most successful volunteer support initiatives ever;

  • at any fire ground where volunteers and paid staff come together at an incident the reporting relationships and line of control becomes unclear given clause 35.4 which at a minimum creates confusion and at worst is likely to unpack the current CFA integrated system (not to mention it appears to specifically exclude DELWP staff being recognized as incident controllers);

  • the UFU EBA (17.4) proposal perpetuates deficiencies in the CFA’s paid training staff workforce management arrangements, an issue highlighted repeatedly by volunteers, CFA and recent independent inquiries;

  • the UFU EBA (17.4) proposal specifically dictates the future operational and resource arrangements for a number of fully volunteer brigades, despite Premier Andrew’s and Minister Merlino’s claims that there is no impact beyond the existing 34 integrated brigades

  • the UFU EBA (17.4) proposal introduces changes to Road Accident Rescue, a function currently performed by many CFA and SES volunteer brigades and units

  • the UFU EBA (17.4) proposal introduces a process to change the way CFA responds to incidents affecting many more brigades than the existing 34 integrated brigades and it is unclear how volunteers would be consulted about this process and form to date would suggest that if it ends in Fair Work Australia, volunteers would have no say

  • various clauses requiring agreement between CFA and the UFU mean that obligations to consult with volunteers are likely to be sidelined or potentially ignored

  • various clauses about dispatch of paid firefighters to incidents ignore the role and capacity of trained volunteer firefighters, impact on many more than the 34 integrated brigades and enable an EBA instrument to override the Chief Officer’s powers and decision making

  • and the list goes on…

Sadly, most of the crucial concerns we have had with previous versions have still not been properly addressed. In spite of the Government’s claims, a new clause (7A.1) which states “The role of volunteers in fighting bushfires and maintaining community safety and delivering high quality services to the public in remote and regional areas and in integrated stations is not altered by this agreement” fails to recognise that CFA brigades do more than fight bushfires in remote and regional areas and either cleverly or by accidental omission ignores the fact that CFA volunteer brigades service a huge part of metropolitan Melbourne and provincial centres & townships across Victoria.


We will be asking for clarification during this consultation stage as to what this clause means and how it works when other clauses contained in the EBA specifically contradict this clause. We know that CFA’s own assessment is that the EBA clauses affect many more than the 34 integrated brigades and fundamentally alters the way CFA works today as a volunteer based and integrated system. By what it omits to say, if this clause is aiming to suggest that the role of volunteers in outer metropolitan Melbourne and urban communities will be altered, then this would be a matter of serious concern. The failure of this clause to specifically recognize the role of volunteers in the urban risk environment is consistent with our assessment of the impact of many of the clauses that this EBA would have on the CFA volunteer capability that we have today, and at a fundamental level reinforces our concern.


Premier Andrews and Minister Merlino continue to make public comment that all volunteer issues have been addressed despite the fact that they still have not bothered to seek to understand VFBV’s concerns. Instead the Minister has advised us that Cabinet have made their decision.


Until the consultative process we are working through with CFA is completed, and despite the Government ignoring Ex Minister Garrett’s, the now sacked CFA Board’s, and the Ex CFA CEO Lucinda Nolan’s advice, we remain hopeful that the Government will not continue to ignore volunteer and VFBV concerns.
Because of the Court arrangements, timelines for both member/brigade consultation and direct consultation with CFA are very tight and your expedited assistance is required.


Our next formal discussion with CFA is currently scheduled for Friday, 8 July and it is anticipated that a schedule of formal consultation meetings with then continue until 19 July.


We are looking to volunteers to respond as early as possible. All responses will be kept confidential, and will all be consolidated to anonymize any responses. You can send your feedback back to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

 

HAVE YOUR SAY

The 2016 VFBV Volunteer Welfare & Efficiency Survey opens from 15 July to 29 August, and volunteers will no doubt have plenty to say this year.

Register now at www.vfbv.com.au/cfa or call (03) 9886 1141 for a printed copy.

This volunteer run survey is in its 5th year, and a record 2,500 volunteers took part last year. Your answers are confidential and the final results go to the VFBV and CFA Boards, the Emergency Management Commissioner and the Minister for Emergency Services.

 

 

Published in VFBV News

*** URGENT ACTION REQUIRED – VFBV MUST PROVIDE A PANEL OF CFA BOARD CANDIDATES AS SOON AS POSSIBLE ***  

The State Government has dismissed the CFA Board and named five new Board Members. After the announcement, the Government called upon VFBV to provide candidates for the remaining four CFA Board positions, as required under the CFA Act.

We have just received a letter from the Minister for Emergency Services James Merlino, asking that VFBV provide a panel of candidates from which he will chose those four Board Members.

The Act places a time limit on this process, stating that “If the Board of Volunteer Fire Brigades Victoria fails to submit a nomination for the purposes of subsection (4) within 30 days after receiving a request from the Minister to submit a nomination, the Governor in Council may after having regard to subsection (2) appoint a person or persons to be a member or members of the Authority for the purposes of subsection (4).”

Accordingly, it is vital that we identify, interview and select suitable candidates as soon as possible.  

The CFA Act requires that the four VFBV nominated members include two volunteer members of brigades predominantly serving urban communities and two volunteer members of brigades predominantly serving rural communities as per the CFA Act.

The CFA Act defines the appointment process for CFA Board Members to ensure the CFA Board has the skills and expertise required to operate as a high performing Board; to recognise and reinforce the importance of the Board possessing strong knowledge, expertise and understanding of CFA volunteerism; and prescribes the criteria for appointment to the Board as having knowledge of, or experience in, commercial, technical, operational, legal or financial matters; or expertise in fire or emergency management, land management or any other field relevant to the performance of the functions of the CFA.

CFA volunteers who believe they have the skills, experience and capacity to make a contribution to the Board of the CFA, and ensure that the CFA Board has both strong volunteer expertise, knowledge and an understanding of volunteerism, AND skills in commercial, technical, operational, legal or financial matters, are invited to apply for these vacancies. Past applicants can apply.

The CFA Board meets on a monthly basis and also operates a committee system which could require a commitment of one half day per month. Attendance at official functions is also expected.

Remuneration for a member of the CFA Board currently is $17,314 p.a.

Please disseminate this information through your own networks, and personally provide it to any potential candidates that you know.

The Victorian Government is committed to having Boards that are both highly effective and also reflective of the diverse communities we serve. VFBV shares this commitment. The Premier has expressed an objective for no less than 50% of all future appointments to paid government boards to be women, by November 2018. VFBV is seeking a strong panel of applicants, both men and women who are suitably qualified and experienced for the CFA Board role.

A Role Statement is available for download here (Updated 28 June 2016) or available from the VFBV office. For other relevant information, interested volunteers should contact VFBV at the contact details below.

Applications including a current resume and a summary of your skills, experience and achievements that will enable you to contribute to a CFA Board that requires collectively;

  • expertise in commercial, technical, operational, legal and financial matters
  • expertise in fire services, emergency management, land management and the functions of CFA, and
  • expertise, knowledge and experience in CFA and CFA volunteering,

should be emailed or faxed to VFBV as soon as possible, AND BY NO LATER THAN 1700 HOURS, MONDAY, 4 JULY 2016, to Email: j.laingThis email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or Fax 03 9886 1618.

Queries can be directed to Jenni Laing, on (03) 9886 1141 in the first instance.

Published in VFBV News
Wednesday, 08 June 2016 00:00

Consider a Role with VFBV

VFBV is established under Victorian law, the Country Fire Authority Act, to represent the volunteers on all matters that affect their welfare and efficiency.

VFBV is made up of CFA volunteers – from individual members of Brigades, through their elected District Councils and State Councillors, to the VFBV Board. 

There are lots of roles for volunteers who want to contribute;

  • Brigade Delegate – the ideal role for the younger member building their skills or the older member who is retiring from turning out but still wants to contribute
  • District Council executive member
  • Joint Committee member
  • State Councillor
  • Subject Matter Expert for Joint Committees
  • VFBV Board Member
  • Nominee to the CFA Board

All of these roles can be greatly rewarding, and former CFA Chair Claire Higgins recently offered great encouragement and an insight into the role of a Board Member, in a story in the March edition of FireWise.

From FireWise, March 2016

CONSIDER YOUR SKILLS FOR THE BOARD

By former CFA Chair Claire Higgins

I’ve missed being part of CFA since my resignation in September last year, so when Andrew Ford made contact with me recently to ask me to write this article, I jumped at the chance to make a contribution.

I was part of CFA for eight years. During this time I was fortunate to work with a number of volunteers who put their hand up to be part of the CFA Board, helping to ensure it has the necessary strong volunteer expertise, knowledge and an understanding of CFA volunteerism.

Whilst from very different walks of life, their contribution was always to promote volunteerism, represent their communities, and work for the best interests of CFA and the Victorian community.

When I think of the volunteer representatives I have worked with over the years on the Board, amongst others, I think of current board member Ross Coyle – a farmer and businessman, Michael Tudball – an executive at a municipal council, James Holyman – an executive within government, John Schurink – a former senior manager with Ambulance Victoria and executive member of ESTA, Paul Denham – with an expertise in project management and construction, Frank Zeigler – a businessman where safety is a core part of his business, and Peter Marke – with experience in community banking.

Each of the volunteer representatives came to the Board table with their experience, and they all came with a desire to work as a team, challenge the status quo and build a better CFA.

One thing that has struck me over time has been the lack of women. It’s a surprise because over the eight years I have come across many women CFA volunteers who are as ably skilled to contribute to the CFA Board. For example, as Board Chair, I met with a lady who was a volunteer, who in her day job, worked in the local health service. When I posed the question to her about putting her hand up to be part of the VFBV Board, or indeed the CFA Board, she was surprised that I thought that she would have the skill.

My message is, don’t underestimate your skill and your value. VFBV wants to build a pool of people that they can mentor and develop so that they can present a true representation of the depth of CFA volunteers – particularly women.

The CFA Board needs to be able to represent its community. VFBV and volunteers give the CFA the best opportunity to do this.

So from all walks of life, put your hand up, be bold, you won’t regret the journey on which you embark. You will be both challenged and rewarded for the experience.

I know Andrew Ford is keen to hear from interested prospective CFA and VFBV Board nominees, so please feel free to contact him at the VFBV office.

 

 

 

Published in VFBV News
Wednesday, 15 June 2016 00:00

VFBV Requests for Meaningful Consultation

MESSAGE TO ALL MEMBERS

This update is to provide you information concerning VFBV’s attempts to enact the provision of the CFA Act and Volunteer Chart that obligate the State of Victoria to genuinely consult with volunteers through their representative body (VFBV) on any matters that may affect them, before decisions are made.

•             The State Government has not accepted a single one of VFBV’s requests to meet and discuss our concerns to date

The chief demand of the VFBV throughout the CFA-UFU negotiations has been that we must be included in meaningful consultation with the Government and the CFA over the content of the EBA as it may affect volunteers. This demand is simply for the rights of volunteers to consultation – to be heard and views considered based on volunteer knowledge and experience - on matters that may affect them as specified in the Volunteer Charter and given legal force by the CFA Act.

Meaningful consultation means that we would be given the details of those matters, have the opportunity to fully assess them from the perspective of volunteers, consult with our membership and help shape the final words in discussion with the relevant decision makers to ensure volunteer interests are represented and protected.

From the outset we have made very clear that we have no wish to discuss or voice a view over pay, allowances, leave, and other conditions applicable to individual paid firefighters. In our view, they are properly matters between CFA as the employer and the UFU representing paid staff.

But as we have seen from past operational staff industrial agreements, there is an increasing tendency to include matters in UFU-CFA EBAs which affect volunteers in regard to support, availability of adequate training, equipment, volunteer rights and the way in which we deliver CFA services to Victorians.

We have also witnessed increases in union power over a variety of CFA management and leadership matters under UFU EBAs that are supposed to be matters that are the strict role of the CFA Board, CFA CEO and, importantly, our Chief Officer. Volunteers are both directly and indirectly affected by the establishment of greater union influence and power over such matters.

For example, the issues of determining staff numbers and rank allocation of paid staff to brigades, appliance staffing and operations on the fireground, including reporting relationships are, under the CFA Act, matters under the control and responsibility of the Chief Officer. Yet the Chief’s power to determine these matters is reduced, and in some aspects eliminated under the terms of recent EBAs. In other words, an EBA registered under the federal industrial Act incorporating changes in the organisation and operation of CFA in accordance with the Union’s agreement trumps those established by Victorian law, in our case the CFA Act and,where relevant, the Emergency Management Act. As we have previously advised, we understand that the drafts of the proposed 2016 EBA contain clauses that go well beyond the union’s influence and powers under any previous EBA.

It is these aspects of the proposed EBA that we wish to be consulted upon and in turn consult with brigades and their volunteers in a meaningful way to inform and help shape any EBA related decisions by Government and the CFA to reflect volunteer concerns.

We wrote to the Premier and Minister for Emergency Services on 30 May 2016, outlining our concerns over the then proposed 2016 EBA. In that letter we advised that we had sought to pursue our concerns in conferences of the Fair Work Commission but that our application to participate based on the interests of volunteers affected by the proposed agreement had been denied. Finally, we proposed three simple amendments to the agreement that might significantly alleviate our concerns. The following day we wrote to each member of Cabinet seeking meetings to discuss our concerns over issues contained in the then draft of the proposed 2016 EBA. Only a handful of ministers have replied with courtesy letters referring us to the Minister for Emergency Services.

Following recommendations by Fair Work Commissioner Julius Roe regarding a further draft of the EBA incorporating minor changes and his further recommendations for minor change we again wrote to the Premier (and Deputy Premier in his role as acting Premier) and the Minister for Emergency Services.

In our letters to them dated 7th June we urgently requested that they initiate consultation with VFBV on behalf of Victoria’ 60,000 CFA volunteers on any matter that may affect volunteers (in the EBA) prior to any relevant decisions being made. A letter of request for consultation in similar terms was also submitted to CFA on the same day.

The following day we received an acknowledgement of our correspondence signed by the Premier and Minister for Emergency Services sent from the Premier’s Office. Their letter stated in part:

We understand you wished to be informed of developments around the proposed CFA enterprise agreement and have asked Emergency Management Victoria and the Department of Premier and Cabinet to make arrangements to meet with you about this.

This response failed to understand, deliberately or not, that there is a major difference between the meaningful consultation we had sort as per the legally binding Volunteer Charter and merely being informed of developments.

It was then determined to arrange for our solicitor to send legal communication to both Government and CFA to make absolutely explicit the terms and manner of immediate consultation required and undertakings that there would be no decisions on the EBA until the completion of consultations in accordance with the Volunteer Charter and the CFA Act.

We gave them until close of business on Thursday 9 June 2016 to respond to our letter.

CFA responded within the due time saying they would abide by the CFA Act (and therefore the Volunteer Charter) once they were in receipt of the final version of the EBA for consideration.

At the time of writing we have received no further response from the Victorian Government to our requests.

Attached to this circular are copies of the following letters for your information and that of other volunteers:

  1. VFBV letter to Premier dated 30th May 2016
  2. VFBV letter to the Premier dated 7th June 2016
  3. Premier (and Minister’s) acknowledgement, undated but received 8th June 2016
  4. RobinsonGill representing VFBV letter to Premier dated 8 June 2016
  5. RobinsonGill representing VFBV letter to CFA dated 8 June 2016

Please distribute through your networks.

Published in VFBV News
Thursday, 09 June 2016 00:00

VFBV FireWise Column - June 2016

In This Edition

CFA VOLUNTEERS AND COMMUNITY MAKE A STAND

         - 3,500 volunteers rally in Melbourne

WA ACTS ON CANCER LAW

SURVEY OPENS SOON

FISKVILLE INQUIRY

VFBV MULTI-AGENCY YOUTH NETWORK

AFFILIATION DUE NOW

 

CFA VOLUNTEERS AND COMMUNITY MAKE A STAND

By Andrew Ford, Chief Executive Officer

As we go to press, CFA is poised at a potential turning point in its history.

We have staged a successful rally, with all political parties invited to be represented, where 3,500 volunteers heard words of support from the Prime Minister and the Victorian Leader of the Opposition, and there was extended applause from the crowd for Victorian Minister for the Emergency Services, Jane Garrett (see video from the rally here), but the issue remains unresolved.

We face the prospect of an Enterprise Bargaining Agreement between CFA and the United Firefighters’ Union that will mean the progressive dismantling of CFA as a volunteer and community based, fully integrated service.

And while Cabinet has delayed a final decision, the Premier’s comments still suggest he is forging ahead regardless of our concerns, to the exclusion of volunteers’ opinions or the consultation and involvement in decision making guaranteed by the recognition of the provisions of the CFA Volunteer Charter in the CFA Act.

We have written to the Premier, Deputy Premier, Minister and every member of Cabinet, urging them to meet with us and understand our concerns before decisions are made.

To make matters worse, Fair Work Australia has rejected VFBV’s application to be heard on behalf of volunteers; our letter to FWA is available on our website, and makes the point that “the proposed EBA contains a significant number of clauses which affect and impact CFA volunteers and related organisation and operation of CFA”.

Lined up against the objectionable parts of the UFU’s proposed Enterprise Bargaining Agreement is the unified opinion of volunteers, CFA senior managers, CFA’s Chief Officer and CEO, the CFA Board and Minister for Emergency Services Jane Garrett.

The CFA Board has reaffirmed its stance against the union’s log of claims, publishing a list of 14 threshold issues, and saying they would:

  • Remove or diminish the ability of the Chief Officer to allocate and deploy resources flexibly and with agility
  • Require agreement or provide veto to UFU over CFA management decision
  • Restrict or negatively impact on volunteers and BASOs.
  • Be discriminatory

 

The United Firefighters Union has persistently denied that the proposed EBA will affect volunteers, but that does not match up with our reading of the document, CFA’s detailed responses to the union’s claims – as published for all members on the CFA website – and Minister Garrett’s published comment that the UFU’s demands are “over the top, unaffordable and compromise community safety”.

Both the CFA Board and VFBV are still pressing for meaningful discussion with the State Government, and volunteers have taken to the streets to show their support for the Minister who has clearly supported us and the communities we volunteered to protect.

We cannot afford to back down on this issue.

The marginalisation and progressive destruction of urban volunteerism set off by this EBA would mean Victoria loses its world renowned surge capacity to fight simultaneous large bushfires and long duration fires whilst maintaining fire and emergency services to local communities.

We have no interest in nor argument with the paid firefighters negotiating hard for pay increases and those aspects of the EBA that deal with legitimate employment conditions of individual paid employees such as leave and rosters. Our only wish is that those matters be resolved as quickly as possible and that the government provide additional funding to CFA to cover the full costs of these increases.

Our interest is the future of the volunteer and community based CFA, the future of CFA volunteerism and the protection of our communities.

These will be testing times but we must remember not to make this debate a personal one, and at all times we need to respect one another as volunteers and paid members of CFA who work well together today and must continue to work well together tomorrow for the benefit of the Victorian community.

Volunteers need to remain ready to escalate action publicly if the government’s decision making process looks like delivering an unfair or foolish outcome.

In the meantime, members should continue actively publicising our concerns at every opportunity you have and activate all of your community networks and continue writing your concerns to MPs and decision makers.

At a national level, the collective body of volunteer firefighter associations is mobilising and keenly watching a problem developing in Victoria that has serious flow on implications in each state. In addition, our 250,000 brother and sister fire volunteers, along with SES volunteers, have a direct and keen conviction to pursue Federal Legislation that protects and respects volunteers. This has been a priority for some time and the time to pursue this with vigour has never been better than now, particularly given that the message has now resonated right up to Prime Minister level. We will be actively seeking to talk to all sides of Federal politics to encourage and obtain their active support for this fundamental issue and volunteer right.

VFBV is working hard as the voice of volunteers, you can now add volume to that voice, by contacting local MPs and local media with your concerns. Every volunteer’s voice deserves to be heard, and the State’s decision makers must hear it.

 

WA ACTS ON CANCER LAW

Western Australia has just introduced presumptive legislation to give firefighters fairer and simpler cancer compensation.

The Bill before the WA Parliament does not match the current standard met by Queensland and South Australia, where volunteers and staff are treated equally, but it is well ahead of the out-of-date and discriminatory Tasmanian legislation being considered as a model for a possible Victorian Bill.

The WA legislation lists the same cancers and years of service requirements that appear in other States’ legislation, and is backdated to 13 November 2013, the date WA’s legislation for career staff took effect.

However, the WA legislation also includes an additional eligibility requirement that only applies to volunteers, who must have at least five years’ volunteer service where they have attended an average of at least five hazardous fires per year, where hazardous fires include building, vehicle or rubbish fires.

In Victoria, CFA volunteers are still waiting, with unanswered questions about whether the proposed Victorian legislation will treat career and volunteer firefighters equally, and whether it will be retrospective, providing cover for volunteers who have already been diagnosed with cancer.

VFBV continues to press this issue with the Government and MPs. Let your local MPs know this issue is important to all volunteers.

 

SURVEY OPENS SOON

The 2016 VFBV Volunteer Welfare & Efficiency Survey will open on 15 July.  CFA volunteers can register online now at www.vfbv.com.au/cfa  or visit the vfbv website to find the link.

Last year a record 2,500 volunteers took part.   More participants means greater influence for the survey results when we take them to CFA, the Emergency Management Commissioner and the State Government.

We are also hosting a version of the survey for other Victorian emergency volunteers, who can register at www.vfbv.com.au/vcf  and from this year interstate fire volunteers can register at www.vfbv.com.au/cavfa

The VFBV Volunteer Welfare & Efficiency Survey is an annual snapshot of volunteer opinion, which includes 33 questions on issues chosen by volunteers.

This is the survey’s fifth year, and VFBV and the CFA Board study each year’s results to see trends in volunteer opinion on those important issues.   Your comments are confidential, but the results go straight to the decision makers.

For more information click here or  talk to your VFBV State Councillor.

 

FISKVILLE INQUIRY

The Fiskville Inquiry’s final report includes 31 recommendations and 125 findings, covering the management of hazards at the site, future safety measures, remediation of the site, the health consequences, and the effects on those directly exposed and others including nearby landholders.

VFBV fully cooperated and supported the Inquiry with detailed written submissions and more than an hour of evidence.

The issues we presented to the Parliamentary Committee began with the paramount concern of the safety of our members and ongoing support to any members who have been exposed in the past.

From the beginning, VFBV had pressed for expert, independent, transparent and accountable analysis of decisions, and the Parliamentary Committee’s Fiskville Inquiry represented the opportunity to ensure decisions, messages and treatment are based on facts, established independently by experts, in a properly transparent process.

VFBV also pressed for immediate government action to fill the gap in training capacity left by Fiskville’s closure. Just as being safe in training is paramount, there is a huge risk to firefighters when they are confronted with real life situations if they haven’t had access to appropriate real-to-life training.

Over the years, Fiskville provided hot fire training and the full range of state level and specialised skills in incident management, incident leadership, operational decision making and real-to-life operational exercises.

The Inquiry has called for ongoing support measures for those affected, and VFBV continues to press for the urgent introduction of sufficient training capacity to replace Fiskville and meet CFA’s needs, and for the sector to set and support clear water standards based on expert opinion, for all agencies – something that has been lacking.

 

VFBV MULTI-AGENCY YOUTH NETWORK

VFBV is making great progress with our Youth Network.

On the back of a very successful CFA Youth Forum on 21 May (pictured), over 60 young people from all across Victoria have signed on to join the VFBV Multi Agency Youth Network. The link below has been forwarded to all District Council executives for circulation. Please pass this link to any young CFA volunteers, or young volunteers from other agencies, who might be interested.

https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/vfbvyouth

Champions have been identified in 10 Districts so far. If there is someone in your District who would do a great job of being the young volunteers’ connection with District Council and source of experienced CFA and VFBV knowhow, please encourage them to contact their District Council executive or Chris Fryer at 9886 1141 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

 

AFFILIATION DUE NOW

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

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

We also strongly encourage Brigades to subscribe to the VFBV Welfare Fund in the interests of supporting your members in times of personal hardship. It should be noted that in order to access the VFBV Welfare Fund, your Brigade must be affiliated with VFBV, since the association pays all of the VFBV Welfare Fund’s operating costs. For full details visit the VFBV website www.vfbv.com.au and go to the Member Services area.  

For any enquiries, contact your VFBV State Councillors or call us on (03) 9886 1141.

 

Published in VFBV News

NEW ARTICLES AND VIDEO - See coverage on the front page of the Weekly Times, and in The Age and in the Herald Sun.

See below for pictures from Sunday's CFA volunteers' rally in the Treasury Gardens.

Here are a few words from the rally on respect for all firefighters.

Here's the fundamental issue in a nutshell.

And a few words on Minister for Emergency Services Jane Garrett.

The Age has posted an opinion piece on solutions to what it describes as the 'farcical fight' over the CFA/UFU Enterprise Bargaining Agreement.

Published in VFBV News
Friday, 27 May 2016 00:00

Youth Network – Apply Now

CALLING ALL VOLUNTEERS AGED 18 – 35 WHO WANT TO MAKE A DIFFERENCE

Applications Now Open

VFBV has recognised the need to engage with and improve our connection to our young volunteers.

As a result, we are in the process of establishing the VFBV Multi-Agency Youth Network.

VFBV is looking for volunteers aged 18 to 35 to join and represent younger volunteers in each District. You can apply to be member of the VFBV Multi-Agency Youth Network right now.

By joining your District’s VFBV Youth Panel, you can give young volunteers a greater say in VFBV at every level, build your skills as a volunteer delegate and prepare yourself for future VFBV and CFA leadership roles.

Each District’s VFBV Youth Panel will work with the VFBV District Council and a young delegate will represent their district at the state-level Youth Advisory Committee, which will work with VFBV’s State Council.

You won’t be alone, you will be supported in each District, by experienced Champions who will guide you along the way and act as a connection to your District Council.

Younger volunteers deserve a stronger voice and VFBV will need experienced representatives in the years to come – we’d like you to consider taking up the challenge.

Apply now, or keep an eye on this website or our Facebook page for more news.

If you have any questions, please call:-

Christine Fryer

VFBV Youth Engagement Officer

(03) 9886 1141

Published in VFBV News
Friday, 08 July 2016 00:00

VFBV Board Vacancies 2016 - 2018

Invitation to apply for four VFBV Board vacancies – for a 2 year term until 1st October 2018

Closing date for written applications is Monday 1st August 2016

VFBV advances the interests of all Victorian fire brigade volunteers and advocates on their behalf to CFA and other key stakeholders. The VFBV Board drives policy development based on volunteer input and is involved in management of issues of central importance to all CFA volunteers.

Vacancies for Four Board Members will arise when the terms of Nev Jones, Andy Cusack, Bruce Pickett & Bill Maltby expire on 1st October 2016; all members are eligible for re-appointment.

The term of appointment will be for two years and applications are invited from interested volunteers to be considered for these vacancies.

The role of a VFBV Board Member involves contributing to VFBV direction, policy determination and monitoring the performance and governance of the Association. Also actively contributing to policy discussion at Board Meetings, networking with others about policies and issues management, and not only making decisions but being prepared to actively advocate for the benefit of all CFA volunteers and ultimately the Victorian community.

A Board Member Role Statement including the key selection criteria is available from the VFBV office or website www.vfbv.com.au/index.php/about/vfbv/vfbvboard

This is an honorary position; no honorarium is paid.

If you are motivated by the prospect of making a difference for CFA volunteers, then send your written application addressing the key selection criteria in the role statement, plus an outline of your CFA activity including the names of two referees.

Applications must be lodged with VFBV by Monday 1st August 2016.

to:          VFBV, P O Box 453, Mt Waverley 3149

                Tel: 9886 1141;   Fax: 9886 1618

                Email: j.laingThis email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Published in VFBV News

Have you paid for your Tier 2 Digital Scanners yet?

Brigades/Groups have been emailed Tier 2 Order confirmations and have until the 15 May to pay for their Tier 2 orders.

Need more information? To can find more information on the successful subsidy program and see a generic copy of the confirmation documents click here.

Published in VFBV News
Monday, 09 May 2016 00:00

VFBV's FireWise Column - May 2016

IN THIS EDITION

Pictures - 400 CFA Trucks Encircle Parliament during the Motorcade of Support

Editorial - A Matter of CFA's Future and Victoria's Safety

Latest Video - CFA's Volunteer Surge Capacity - see the new computer generated model from VFBV and the University of Melbourne

Stories - VFBV Affiliations Due - National Volunteer Week - VFBV Youth Network - Annual Memorial Service - VFBV Board Vacancies - Digital Scanners - Payments Due

MOTORCADE OF SUPPORT

Photo courtesy ABC News

Congratulations to everyone involved in the Volunteer Motorcade of Support for the Minister, CFA Board, CEO and Chief Officer.

We must maintain the dignified approach shown at the motorcade, and we should be proud of the non-political, dignified and respectful way volunteers showed their support for CFA and Minister Jane Garrett’s moral stand to ensure CFA is not sold out.

There were 421 vehicles from hundreds of brigades, with CFA appliances, privately owned fire appliances and support vehicles.

Of great importance were the hundreds of Brigades that registered with their Groups to assist with local coverage and to ensure our communities were protected whilst each District convoy left for Melbourne. Every one of CFA’s 21 Districts was represented, with vehicles from all corners of the state. Crews were professional and disciplined throughout the entire day, ensuring as little inconvenience to the public as possible, and we acknowledge the great support of Victoria Police, the City of Melbourne and the PSO’s from Parliament House.

Photo courtesy Nine News

 

EDITORIAL: A MATTER OF CFA’S FUTURE AND VICTORIA’S SAFETY

By Andrew Ford, VFBV Chief Executive Officer

Over the past few weeks there has been a lot of attention, both publicly and within CFA, regarding concerns for the future of CFA as we know it.

As this copy goes to print, CFA has published an Ops EBA Update that clarifies some of the key facts about the concerns that have underpinned the recent attention.

Certainly there is significant concern amongst volunteers across Victoria, but VFBV and individual volunteers are not the only ones who hold these concerns.

Despite the claims that a very small minority might be peddling, this is not a media beatup, it is a genuine concern held by VFBV, the CFA Board, CEO and Chief Officer, the Minister for Emergency Services Jane Garrett, and - behind closed doors - many other senior officials in the emergency management hierarchy.

The concerns come from the United Firefighters’ Union’s current Enterprise Bargaining Agreement log of claims that include numerous interrelated clauses that seek to; give the UFU control and power of veto over CFA operational and resource decision making; direct how volunteer support is provided in CFA; sideline and diminish the role of volunteers; and dismantle the CFA’s current volunteer and integrated model.

These are real concerns, they drive a wedge between paid staff and volunteers, and to use CFA’s own words, the log of claims is unworkable.

Let me be quite clear, VFBV has no interest in those aspects of the log of claims that relate to CFA career firefighters’ pay.

From the outset our message has been very clear, both publicly and within CFA; give the CFA paid firefighters their 19% increase and settle the pay dispute as quickly as possible.

But we must support the views of those charged with public safety and the safety of the people of Victoria and must support them in their view to not sit by and let control of CFA be handed over to the UFU, not just from our own perspective, but on behalf of the communities we have sworn to protect.

Our motorcade in Melbourne on 23 April was a fantastic show of a united CFA, getting behind the CFA Board, CEO and Chief Officer, and Minister Jane Garrett, who are doing the moral and proper thing of standing firm against the UFU’s attempt to control CFA.

There is a huge amount of detail sitting behind this issue and I don’t have space to go into it here, so I encourage you to read CFA’s latest EBA Update or visit www.vfbv.com.au for more information.

These are very testing times, we all need to show personal leadership and remember the only thing we are driving for is a strong, sustainable CFA, focused on supporting and protecting our communities.

Many people are pondering what the solution might be.

Here are the basics of the solution as I see them, for all of our leaders including those from Government, CFA Board and management, Emergency Management Victoria, the UFU and VFBV.

Commit to working together to achieve an EBA that;

• Cannot override CFA operational and resource decision making

• Does not diminish or interfere with the roles performed by volunteers or the support provided to volunteers

• Does not dismantle CFA’s volunteer based and fully integrated model

• Does not block or reduce CFA and Government’s obligation to consult with volunteers on matters that affect them before decisions are made.

There is now formal advice available to all CFA members, through the CFA EBA Ops Update released on 3 May, that outlines clauses in the current UFU log of claims that go beyond dealing with pay and conditions and work directly in contradiction to the four points listed above.

I have written to CFA requesting that these clauses be considered in light of CFA legislation, the CFA Volunteer Charter and the future of CFA itself.

I ask everyone reading this to remember that this debate is not about volunteers versus paid firefighters.

We all know that volunteers and paid staff generally have great working relationships and we must continue to respect one another.

Before anyone starts judging the other’s argument, anyone in a position to do so should ring the UFU office or CFA for a copy of the latest log of claims and take a look at what is written.

I think you will find very quickly that there is cause for concern and that most CFA members, paid and volunteer alike, will agree that some aspects of the UFU’s log of claims simply go too far.

This is not an issue between volunteers and the UFU, nor is it between VFBV and the UFU; this is an issue about the future of CFA and ensuring that CFA and its Chief Officer can manage the organisation without union interference.

Let’s remember this is a unique situation where volunteers, VFBV, CFA management, the CFA Board and the Minister are all of one view; that the log of claims will give the union too much control over CFA, will dismantle CFA’s integrated model and will diminish and erode the work volunteers do.

The attention that volunteers are bringing to this issue is vital to ensuring a sensible outcome for Victoria.

We should keep this up and escalate it if need be, until the matter is resolved fairly and sensibly.

In the meantime, I say this again; we have absolutely no quarrel with paid firefighters receiving their pay increase, and only wish that matter could be resolved quickly, so we can get on with the work of protecting Victorian communities.

 

EVIDENCE OF CFA’s VOLUNTEER SURGE CAPACITY

Computer Modelling from VFBV and the University of Melbourne

Following the success of our earlier animated video on volunteer surge capacity, VFBV has been working with the University of Melbourne on a computer-generated time lapse video that graphically demonstrates CFA’s huge volunteer surge capacity.

You can see the computer modelled video on our YouTube channel here.

The video shows incidents and crews responding, and will help educate the public and Government on how CFA Volunteers are essential for Victoria’s Safety and Emergency Services.

We have been building versions for each District, and will shortly distribute copies to your District Councils, for use with the public, decision makers and your own volunteers.

 

VFBV AFFILIATIONS DUE

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

We also strongly encourage Brigades to subscribe to the VFBV Welfare Fund in the interests of supporting your members in times of personal hardship.

For enquiries, contact your State Councillors or call (03) 9886 1141.

 

NATIONAL VOLUNTEER WEEK

National Volunteer Week is May 9 to 15, and an opportunity to set aside the customary volunteers’ modesty for a moment and accept the thanks of the community.

It is also a chance to thank those who volunteer in supporting roles, and members of the community who help to make your Brigade’s vital work possible.

Volunteer Week is an also opportunity for recruiting and fundraising.

For assistance in engaging local media contact VFBV on (03) 9886 1141.

And we’d like to extend our thanks to every volunteer who takes part at any level, and helps to make VFBV, the voice of the volunteers, such an effective representative organisation.

 

VFBV YOUTH NETWORK

There has been an overwhelming response to the CFA Multi- Agency Youth Forum to be held on 21 May – the forum will involve St John, Red Cross, SES and Ambulance Victoria as well as CFA, and VFBV will be showcased.

VFBV is hosting the Emergency Management sector Multi- Agency Youth Network, providing the foundation for young people to help us implement other initiatives to engage young people; to consider new ideas and perspectives across the range of issues we deal with, and to shape VFBV, CFA and the Emergency Management Sector into the future.

Our call for Expressions of Interest has gone to all Districts to identify VFBV Champions, experienced CFA volunteers who will support our young people in their work in the Youth Network.

Stay tuned to www.vfbv.com.au for updates, or call Chris Fryer on 03 9886 1141.

 

ANNUAL MEMORIAL SERVICE

Our Board Members and other senior VFBV officials were among the many volunteers who attended the moving ceremony at this year’s CFA Annual Memorial Service at Wodonga.

The service paid respect to the 67 Victorian firefighters who have died in the line of duty over the years, with this year’s service held in Wodonga to mark the 10th anniversary of the line of duty deaths of Trevor Day, Campbell’s Creek Fire Brigade and Rebecca Helwig from Barnawartha Fire Brigade.

The memorial is held on the Sunday closest to International Firefighters’ Day, known as St Florian’s Day (4 May), and is a formal and reflective day to acknowledge and remember those that have made the ultimate sacrifice on behalf of their communities.

 

VFBV BOARD VACANCIES

Four positions on the VFBV Board will become vacant this year, and interested volunteers are invited to apply.

The closing date for written applications is Monday, 1 August 2016.

For more details, see the advertisement below, or on page 10 of the May 2016 of edition of FireWise.

 

DIGITAL SCANNERS PAYMENT DUE

The VESEP-funded subsidy program for digital scanners has now been completed - Brigades are reminded they must pay for their Tier 2 orders by 15 May

For enquiries, call (03) 9886 1141.

 

THE LATEST NEWS

Get the latest in our email newsletter or VFBV’s popular Two Minute Briefing from the VFBV/CFA Joint Committees - register here.

Join the discussion on our Facebook page at www.facebook.com/cfavolor follow us on Twitter at www.twitter.com/vfbv or on Instagram @volunteer_fire_brigades_vic

 

 

Board Members of Volunteer Fire Brigades Victoria (VFBV)

Invitation to apply

Four VFBV Board vacancies – for a 2 year term until 1st October 2018

Closing date for written applications is Monday 1st August 2016

VFBV advances the interests of all Victorian fire brigade volunteers and advocates on their behalf to CFA and other key stakeholders. The VFBV Board drives policy development based on volunteer input and is involved in management of issues of central importance to all CFA volunteers.

Vacancies for Four Board Members will arise when the terms of Nev Jones, Andy Cusack, Bruce Pickett & Bill Maltby expire on 1st October 2016; all members are eligible for re-appointment.

The term of appointment will be for two years and applications are invited from interested volunteers to be considered for these vacancies.

The role of a VFBV Board Member involves contributing to VFBV direction, policy determination and monitoring the performance and governance of the Association. Also actively contributing to policy discussion at Board Meetings, networking with others about policies and issues management, and not only making decisions but being prepared to actively advocate for the benefit of all CFA volunteers and ultimately the Victorian community.

A Board Member Role Statement including the key selection criteria is available from the VFBV office or website www.vfbv.com.au/index.php/about/vfbv/vfbvboard

This is an honorary position; no honorarium is paid.

If you are motivated by the prospect of making a difference for CFA volunteers, then send your written application addressing the key selection criteria in the role statement, plus an outline of your CFA activity including the names of two referees.

Applications must be lodged with VFBV by Monday 1st August 2016.

to:        VFBV, P O Box 453, Mt Waverley 3149

            Tel: 9886 1141;   Fax: 9886 1618

            Email: j.laingThis email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Published in VFBV News
HERE’S THE LATEST - 

VFBV rejects the Fair Work Commission’s recommendations and the premise that it is able to be a fair and independent umpire in this case

Fair Work Commission recommendations

The Fair Work Commission has issued recommendations on the CFA/UFU Enterprise Bargaining Agreement that represent the threat of union control over CFA.

Download the Fair Work Commission’s recommendations here

VFBV had applied to consult with and assist the Commission (see VFBV’s letter here) in understanding the impact and overall effect of various union clauses in the proposed agreement, particularly regarding the delivery of CFA protection to the communities it serves.

Our application to be heard on these issues on behalf of CFA volunteers was rejected by the Commission. This was despite the fact CFA volunteers comprise 97% of CFA’s workforce and large parts of the proposed Agreement directly affects them.

The recommendations are unacceptable to CFA volunteers; they are totally inadequate in ensuring that CFA remains an effective volunteer and community based fire and emergency service in the face of a union representing just over 1% of the CFA workforce trying to take control.

If implemented the amended Enterprise Agreement will mean the progressive dismantling of the CFA as a volunteer and community based fully integrated service.

CFA Board

CFA has issued a new Operational EBA Update (2 June 2016), explaining that the CFA Board met to review the recommendations and is seeking further advice.

In its update, the CFA Board pointed out that the recommendations are for consideration and not binding, and it remains seriously concerned about the implications.

The Operational EBA Update says CFA is concerned with parts of the proposed EBA that would affect the Chief Officer’s ability to allocate and deploy resources, include a union veto over CFA decisions, negatively impact on volunteers and BASOs, and be discriminatory.

The CFA Board is seeking further discussions with the State Government on the operational and financial impacts on CFA.

 

What you can do to support CFA and volunteers

See the Herald Sun article online – this includes an online opinion poll.

Download signs for use in your local area

         

 Note: Posters may be printed up to A2 size.

Concerned? Email or call your local MP or your local newspaper.

Talk to your VFBV State Councillors or your Brigade Delegates about taking action in your local area.

New to the EBA issue?

Keep reading for recent VFBV and CFA updates that look into why the volunteers, CFA senior managers, the CFA Board, CEO and Chief Officer, and the Minister for Emergency Services are all so concerned.

 

1 June 2016

HERALD SUN ARTICLE - VFBV'S LETTER TO THE PREMIER - POSTERS FOR VOLUNTEERS

Following the Herald Sun’s front page article today - VFBV has verified the Herald Sun’s main points and is confident that this is an accurate report of the events that took place yesterday in the Commonwealth’s industrial relations commission, called Fair Work Australia, and is cause for great concern and alarm.

As we advised on Monday, on the back of statements by the Premier and senior government Ministers who have stated that the Commission is a “fair and independent umpire”, VFBV sought leave on behalf of CFA volunteers to appear to assist the Commission understand the effects and impacts that some of the proposed industrial agreement clauses would have on CFA volunteers and their capacity to serve the community.  Despite volunteers making up 97% of CFA’s workforce, that the proposed Agreement had widespread negative effects on CFA volunteers and despite the Volunteer Charter being enacted by the Victorian Parliament as law, the Commissioner has advised us that our request to be heard on your behalf was denied.

Volunteers are now pleading with the Premier, the Cabinet and all Victorian MPs to do what the industrial umpire did not: have the decency to hear our concerns, properly consider them, and protect volunteer firefighters and the Victorian public from any negative impacts.

The CFA CEO, Chief Officer, Board, Operational Command, Volunteers and the Minister are all united against the adoption of the proposed Agreement and are all saying the same thing - the proposed agreement, even with the slight changes recommended by the industrial commissioner, will significantly impact on volunteers and their capacity to effectively serve the community as well as impact on CFA’s ability to make decisions. On any other day that would be enough.

We have requested the Premier ensure that CFA’s capacity to make timely decisions on operational and other resource allocation remains unencumbered, and to make it explicit that the UFU industrial agreement is not to override or set aside relevant Victorian legislation or to marginalize CFA volunteers or relegate them to a lesser role than paid staff.

We are fielding many calls from volunteers who are disenfranchised and some who are considering resigning. We urge you to please not make any hasty decisions. Our communities still depend on us, and we have always met that commitment with our utmost dedication. There is still time for our Victorian Cabinet Ministers to listen to us, respect the work you do and heed our message. This does not mean members should not start planning for the worst and escalating any local actions to raise concerns with MPs, local councils and other bodies. We also need you to be ready if further action is required. These are testing times and we remind members that volunteers have no quarrel with our paid firefighter’s pay and conditions, and we want those sorted quickly. Please remain respectful of each other. We are taking a principled, moral and values driven position, and these values should guide our decision making.

Today and tomorrow may set the scene for the future of CFA. Members are urged to continue emailing and writing their local Members of Parliament, especially Cabinet Ministers who may be deciding the outcome of this matter this week. You should ask how volunteer views and concerns are being considered if they have not been allowed to be properly put in the current process. You should ask if they will personally protect you and your community’s volunteer firefighters from any impacts that may retard or reduce their capacity to protect the community.

Any inclusion of anything (other than pay and conditions) that seeks to control, demoralize or disregard volunteer firefighters is just morally wrong and we need our leaders to stand up on our behalf and respect the commitment provided to us through the Volunteer Charter which states;

That the Victorian Parliament’s & CFA’s policy outcomes are to be judged against the following principles;

Is it fair?

Is it just?

Is it reasonable?

Does it discriminate against volunteers?

Is the outcome practicable and sustainable?

Is it in the best interests of the safety of the Victorian community?

We should expect no less.

 

Handy Downloads for Volunteers

Here is some additional information, and resources to assist volunteers in raising the issue:

VFBV’s Letter to Premier Daniel Andrews

Posters

       

Note: Posters may be printed up to A2 size.

27 May Update

The Fair Work Commissioner is considering final submissions on the CFA/UFU Enterprise Bargaining Agreement dispute and is expected provide potential next steps to resolve the matter soon, possibly on Monday 30 May.

CFA issued a new Operational EBA Update on Friday, 27 May 2016 - you can see that new CFA update here.

You can read CFA's 18 May Operational EBA Update - click here to download - issued 18 May 2016

Statement from CFA Board 12 May 2016:

We are writing to you today as part of our commitment to keeping you updated on the progress of the Operational EBA discussions.

We are deeply saddened by reports of deteriorating relationships between volunteers and staff in some areas.

Many volunteers have told us they do not want to get involved in genuine negotiations about pay and conditions of staff, and nor should they.

They do, however, have a right to raise concerns over potential decisions that directly impact them, and CFA is required to consult on these issues.

We once again ask all members to be tolerant of each other's views and for everybody to treat each other with appropriate respect.

At a recent Board meeting, we discussed our desire to see a resolution to the EBA discussions as soon as possible, but reconfirmed we will not negotiate on the inclusion of certain clauses being sought by the UFU.

These clauses would:
• remove or diminish the ability of the Chief Officer to allocate and deploy resources flexibly and with agility
• require agreement or provide veto to UFU over CFA management decisions
• restrict or negatively impact on volunteers and BASOs.

We do want to emphasise that we remain committed to consulting extensively with our membership on any significant changes that impact them, their safety or their terms and conditions. The position we have taken does not diminish this in any way.

The UFU presented these clauses in a draft EBA to the Victorian Government.

We believe it would be beneficial if all members covered by the proposed agreement had access to the current proposal (version 17.1) so that you are appropriately informed about the discussions, issues and impacts.

As this is a UFU document, and not CFA’s proposal, we have written to the UFU to seek their agreement to make it available to their members.

Tomorrow, we will be attending a Fair Work Commission hearing, which was requested by the UFU. We will be presenting what we can and can’t agree on.

We will continue to update you on developments.

From CFA Board

(John Peberdy, Ross Coyle, Michael Freshwater, Katherine Forrest, James Holyman, John Schurink, Michael Tudball, Samantha Hunter)

Posted on the CFA website, 4pm 12 May 2016

 

STATEMENTS FROM MINISTER GARRETT AND THE CHIEF OFFICER - 11 MAY 2016

Emergency Services Minister Jane Garrett has told Nine News, “I do have grave concerns about some of what has been in various logs of claims from the UFU.”

“We want this resolved as quickly as possible but it will be on terms that look after all of our firefighters.” (Nine News, 11 May 2016)

And CFA Chief Officer Joe Buffone has issued a statement saying “there has been much debate devoted to negotiations around a new enterprise bargaining agreement” and that “there has also been misinformation that needs to be corrected.”

He says the current EBA log of claims includes clauses “that will adversely impact on volunteers and CFA’s ability to run the organisation in a way that will best serve all Victorians.”

You can read his full statement in the Weekly Times here.

 

CFA VOLUNTEERS' MOTORCADE OF SUPPORT

CFA volunteers held a motorcade of fire vehicles through the streets of Melbourne on Saturday 23rd April, 2016, to demonstrate their support for the CFA and Emergency Services Minister Jane Garrett.  Fire vehicles came from all corners of the state to converge on the city.  See TV coverage here:  SBS TV News, WIN TV News Gippsland, ABC TV News

The Minister and CFA have been sidelined by the Premier, Daniel Andrews, who is reported to have done a secret personal deal with Firefighters’ union secretary, Peter Marshall which would see the Union gain significant control over CFA operations as well as achieve massive pay and allowance increases.

“The CFA and the Minister were negotiating with the union in good faith for a reasonable financial settlement for paid firefighters but would not agree to surrender proper management and operational functions or to marginalise volunteers as the Union demanded”, Volunteer Fire Brigades Victoria CEO Andrew Ford said.

“It has become clear to volunteers that in recent days the Premier went behind the Minister’s back and reached a deal with Peter Marshall which gives the union virtually all it wants,” he said. 

“And that includes marginalising experienced and qualified volunteer firefighters who are committed to volunteer community service and flooding the organisation with unneeded extra paid staff to replace thousands of urban volunteers without increasing public safety.

“The cost implications of the Premier’s sell-out are huge, with the fire service levy on households and business expected to significantly grow year on year for years into the future as more and more volunteers are replaced by paid employees under the union’s system.

“The name “The Marshall Plan” will have a totally new meaning.

“Where’s the money coming from? Out of our pockets of course!

“It’s ironic that after capping municipal rates and charges the government’s fire service levy, which municipal councils’ are required to send out on their rates notices, will grow like topsy.

“The public safety implications are particularly troubling.  If you undermine, deactivate and progressively push out volunteers, who will provide Victoria with a surge capacity to respond to major fires and emergencies?

“And if you are substantially reliant on paid staff be prepared to pay overtime, penalty rates, extra shift allowances, meal allowances, accommodation costs and allowances as well as the wages that will be required to have sufficient paid staff available.

“And remember they are going up by 19% under the Andrews-Marshall industrial deal.

“Daniel Andrews either hasn’t thought this through or just doesn’t care.

“Jane Garrett has demonstrated that she has thought this through, understands the issues and details and repeatedly demonstrated she does care.

“The CFA Board and its leadership, including CEO Lucinda Nolan and Chief Fire Officer Joe Buffone know what’s at stake in respect of cost and operational capacity to keep Victorian’s safe.

“That’s why volunteers are mobilising to support Minister Jane Garrett and the CFA and its leadership.”

For all inquiries ring the VFBV office on 9802 0501.

Published in VFBV News
Friday, 15 April 2016 00:00

VFBV's FireWise Page - April 2016

IN THIS EDITION

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

FIRE SERVICES REVIEW RESPONSE HITS THE MARK

By Andrew Ford, VFBV Chief Executive Officer

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

VESEP GRANTS OPEN NOW

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

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

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

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

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

This year’s VESEP grants will favour applications for:

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

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

 

VFBV Affiliation and Welfare Fund Subscriptions

                       For the benefit of your Brigade and volunteers

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

DIGITAL SCANNERS – TIER 3 ORDERS OPEN

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

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

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

Get your Tier 3 orders in now;

Download the Brigade Order Form here

Download the Group Order Form here

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

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

 

2016 VFBV RURAL SENIOR CHAMPIONSHIPS RESULTS

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

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

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

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

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

For detailed results, see the rural championships page

 

2016 VFBV RURAL JUNIOR CHAMPIONSHIPS RESULTS

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

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

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

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

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

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

For detailed results, click here.

 

VFBV 2016 STATE URBAN SENIOR CHAMPIONSHIPS

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

CANCER LAW – DON’T STOP NOW

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

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

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

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

 

YOUNG VOLUNTEERS WANTED

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

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

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

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

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

 

VFBV WELFARE & EFFICIENCY SURVEY

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

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

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

 

RECOGNITION OF MEDICAL QUALIFICATIONS

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

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

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

 

FATIGUE MANAGEMENT

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

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

    

GET THE LATEST NEWS

Get the latest in our email newsletter or VFBV’s popular 2 Minute Briefing from the VFBV/CFA Joint Committees. Register here.

Join the discussion on our Facebook page at www.facebook.com/cfavol

Follow us on Twitter at www.twitter.com/vfbv or on Instagram @volunteer_fire_brigades_vic

Published in VFBV News

CALLING OUT TO ALL VOLUNTEERS AGED 18 – 35 WHO WANT TO BE INVOLVED AND MAKE A DIFFERENCE

VFBV have recognised the need to engage with and improve our connection to our young volunteers.

As a result, VFBV are in the process of establishing the VFBV Youth Network.

VFBV is looking for volunteers aged 18 to 35 to join and represent younger volunteers in each District.

By joining your District’s VFBV Youth Panel, you can give young volunteers a greater say in VFBV at every level, build your skills as a volunteer delegate and prepare yourself for future VFBV and CFA leadership roles.

Each District’s VFBV Youth Panel will work with the VFBV District Council and a young delegate will represent their district at the state-level Youth Advisory Committee, which will work with VFBV’s State Council.

You won’t be alone, you will be supported in each District, by experienced Champions who will guide you along the way and act as a connection to your District Council.

Younger volunteers deserve a stronger voice and VFBV will need experienced representatives in the years to come – we’d like you to consider taking up the challenge.

We will keep you posted online at www.vfbv.com.au and in future editions of Firewise however, if you have any questions, please call:-

Christine Fryer

VFBV Youth Engagement Officer

(03) 9886 1141

 

Published in VFBV News

For the benefit of your Brigade and volunteers

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

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

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

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

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

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

Published in VFBV News

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

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

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

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

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

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

CHAMPION TEAM (following a countback to determine placings):

1st

Springhurst A

48 Points

2nd

Ascot A

48 Points

3rd

Greta A

48 Points

To download full results and aggregates, visit the Rural Championship Results page here

 

VFBV State President Encouragement Award: Chiltern A

Stan Ross Conduct Trophy:                                         Sedgwick Brigade                            

Junior Firefighter Sprint:                  

11-13 Years – Female:                    Abbie Hromenko, Huntly

11-13 Years – Male:                         Logan White, Greta

11-15 Years – Female:                    Tiffany Jorgenson, Beazley’s Bridge

11-15 Years – Male:                         Matthew Kerr, Dunrobin/Nangeela

To download full results and aggregates, visit the Rural Championship Results page here

 

FINAL AGGREGATES

11-13 YEARS AGGREGATE

1st

Greta A

36 Points

2nd

Mandurang A

26 Points

3rd

Sedgwick A

22 Points

11-15 YEARS AGGREGATE

1st

Springhurst A

48 Points

2nd

Dunrobin/Nangeela A

34 Points

3rd

Ascot A

28 Points

To download full results and aggregates, visit the Rural Championship Results page here

 

EVENT RESULTS

Event 1A: Low Down Pump & Ladder – 11-13 Years        

1st

Ascot A

18.91 Seconds

2nd

Eldorado A

19.17 Seconds

3rd

Plenty A

19.45 Seconds

4th

Beazley’s Bridge A

19.86 Seconds

5th

Stuart Mill A

20.09 Seconds

Event 1B: Low Down Pump & Ladder – 11-15 Years

1st

Ascot A

15.84 Seconds

2nd

Mandurang A

16.97 Seconds

3rd

Sedgwick A

17.14 Seconds

4th

Dunrobin/Nangeela A

17.16 Seconds

5th

Doreen A

17.83 Seconds

Event 2A: Hose & Ladder – 11-13 Years

1st

Beazley’s Bridge A

22.37 Seconds

2nd

Greta A

22.51 Seconds

3rd

Sedgwick A

23.39 Seconds

4th

Yambuk A

23.85 Seconds

5th

Millbrook B

24.03 Seconds

Event 2B: Hose & Ladder – 11-15 Years

1st

Dunrobin/Nangeela A

19.74 Seconds

2nd

Springhurst B

21.16 Seconds

3rd

Willaura A

21.24 Seconds

4th

Huntly A

21.66 Seconds

5th

Stuart Mill A

21.98 Seconds

Event 4A: Tanker – Priming, Pumping & Ladder – 11-13 Years

1st

Sedgwick A

28.84 Seconds

2nd

Greta A

29.23 Seconds

3rd

Mannerim A

32.9 Seconds

4th

Ascot A

32.92 Seconds

5th

Hurstbridge A

33.78 Seconds

Event 4B: Tanker – Priming, Pumping & Ladder – 11-15 Years

1st

Springhurst A

24.84 Seconds

2nd

Dunrobin/Nangeela A

24.94 Seconds

3rd

Greta A

25.16 Seconds

4th

Stuart Mill A

26.62 Seconds

5th

Mandurang A

26.73 Seconds

Event 5A: Hydrant & Tanker – 11-13 Years

1st

Greta A

27.54 Seconds

2nd

Mandurang A

29.91 Seconds

3rd

Stuart Mill A

30.37 Seconds

4th

Millbrook A

31.22 Seconds

5th

Eldorado B

31.31 Seconds

Event 5B: Hydrant & Tanker – 11-15 Years

1st

Springhurst A

23.16 Seconds

2nd

Drunrobin/Nangeela B

23.83 Seconds

3rd

Mandurang A

24.73 Seconds

4th

Stuart Mill A

25.35 Seconds

5th

Ascot A

26.01 Seconds

Event 6A: Tanker – Drawing Water from Tank – 11-13 Years

1st

Mandurang A

21.98 Seconds

2nd

Millbrook B

22.64 Seconds

3rd

Willaura A

24.13 Seconds

4th

Moyhu A

25.21 Seconds

5th

Mannerim A

25.5 Seconds

Event 6B: Tanker – Drawing Water from Tank – 11-15 Years

1st

Springhurst A

17.14 Seconds

2nd

Ascot A

19.22 Seconds

3rd

Greta A

20.58 Seconds

4th

Dunrobin/Nangeela A

20.71 Seconds

5th

Mandurang A

21.71 Seconds

 

To download full results and aggregates, visit the Rural Championship Results page here

 

 

 

 

Published in VFBV News
Monday, 04 April 2016 00:00

2016 VFBV Rural Championships Results

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

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

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

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

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

HIGHEST POINTS OVERALL:        Dunrobin/Nangeela B - 74 points

DISCIPLINE AWARD:                       Katunga Brigade

WINNERS OF THE SPRINTS:         Female Sprint:   Amy Jackson, Willaura

Male Sprint:       Nathan Hooper, Greta

To download full results and detailed aggregates, visit the Rural Championship Results page here

FINAL AGGREGATES

DIVISION A AGGREGATE

 

1st

Greta A

64 Points

 

2nd

Hurstbridge A

46 Points

 

3rd

Greta B

42 Points

DIVISION B AGGREGATE

 

1st

Dunrobin/Nangeela B

74 Points

 

2nd

Connewarre B

28 Points

 

3rd

Strathmerton A

27

Points

DIVISION C AGGREGATE

 

1st

Plenty A

44 Points

 

2nd

Dunrobin/Nangeela D

41 Points

 

3rd

Dunrobin/Nangeela C

40 Points

To download full results and aggregates, visit the Rural Championship Results page here

EVENT RESULTS

Event 1: Low Down Pump & Ladder

A Division:

1st

Greta A

15.07 Seconds

 

2nd

Greta B

16.45 Seconds

 

3rd

Eldorado A

16.65 Seconds

 

4th

Beazley’s Bridge A

16.68 Seconds

 

5th

Mandurang A

 

17.17 Seconds

B Division:

1st

Dunrobin/Nangeela B

17.18 Seconds

 

2nd

Connewarre B

17.28 Seconds

 

3rd

Strathmerton A

17.86 Seconds

 

4th

Irrewarra A

18.03 Seconds

 

5th

Dunolly A

18.21 Seconds

 

C Division:

1st

Dunrobin/Nangeela D

16.75 Seconds

 

2nd

Strathmerton C

17.24 Seconds

 

3rd

Plenty A

17.55 Seconds

 

4th

Katunga B

18.08 Seconds

 

5th

Dunrobin/Nangeela C

18.53 Seconds

Event 2: Hose & Ladder

A Division:

1st

Chiltern A

15.22 Seconds

 

2nd

Hurstbridge A

15.41 Seconds

 

3rd

Greta B

15.55 Seconds

 

4th

Eldorado A

15.56 Seconds

 

5th

Beazley’s Bridge A

15.88 Seconds

 

 

 

 

B Division:

1st

Dunrobin/Nangeela B

15.92 Seconds

 

2nd

Miners Rest A

16.7 Seconds

 

3rd

Mandurang B

16.95 Seconds

 

4th

Eldorado C

17.04 Seconds

 

5th

Research B

17.34 seconds

 

C Division:

1st

Dunrobin/Nangeela C

16.09 Seconds

 

2nd

Mt Buninyong A

16.78 Seconds

 

3rd

Connewarre C

17.06 Seconds

 

4th

Plenty A

17.12 Seconds

 

5th

Greta D

18.03 Seconds

 

Event 3: Tanker Hose Reel & Ladder

A Division:

1st

Hurstbridge A

39.49 Seconds

 

2nd

Beazley’s Bridge A

40.6 Seconds

 

3rd

Greta A

42.96 Seconds

 

4th

Springhurst A

44.21 Seconds

 

5th

Eldorado A

 

44.35 Seconds

B Division:

1st

Moyhu A

44.04 Seconds

 

2nd

Dunrobin/Nangeela B

45.95 Seconds

 

3rd

Research B

46.53 Seconds

 

4th

Strathmerton A

46.66 Seconds

 

5th

Connewarre B

47.66 Seconds

 

C Division:

1st

Dunrobin/Nangeela E

47.71 Seconds

 

2nd

Dunrobin/Nangeela C

48.91 Seconds

 

3rd

Research C

50.51 Seconds

 

4th

Corio B

51.15 Seconds

 

5th

Plenty A

51.7 Seconds

 

Event 4: Tanker - Priming, Pumping & Ladder

A Division:

1st

Greta B

20.31 Seconds

 

2nd

Greta A

20.63 Seconds

 

3rd

Hurstbridge A

21.71 Seconds

 

4th

Mandurang A

22.45 Seconds

 

5th

Springhurst A

22.71 Seconds

 

B Division:

 

1st

 

Dunrobin/Nangeela B

 

23.94 Seconds

 

2nd

Connewarre B

24.46 Seconds

 

3rd

Strathmerton A

24.69 Seconds

 

4th

Elaine A

24.94 Seconds

 

5th

Miners Rest A

 

24.98 Seconds

C Division:

1st

Plenty A

25.09 Seconds

 

2nd

Research C

25.43 Seconds

 

3rd

Dunrobin/Nangeela D

25.91 Seconds

 

4th

Pearcedale A

26.1 Seconds

 

5th

Dunrobin/Nangeela C

27.64 Seconds

 

Event 5: Hydrant & Tanker

A Division:

1st

Greta A

17.92 Seconds

 

2nd

Greta B

18.9 Seconds

 

3rd

Springhurst A

19.17 Seconds

 

4th

Hurstbridge A

20.77 Seconds

 

5th

Springhurst B

21.98 Seconds

 

B Division:

 

1st

 

Dunrobin/Nangeela B

 

20.18 Seconds

 

2nd

Strathmerton A

20.47 Seconds

 

3rd

Connewarre B

22.53 Seconds

 

4th

Irrewarra A

22.81 Seconds

 

5th

Moyhu B

23.53 Seconds

 

C Division:

1st

Dunrobin/Nangeela D

21.25 Seconds

 

2nd

Dunrobin/Nangeela C

23.38 Seconds

 

3rd

Research C

23.74 Seconds

 

4th

Corio B

24.44 Seconds

 

5th

Dunrobin/Nangeela E

24.57 Seconds

 

Event 6: Tanker Drawing Water from Tank

A Division:

1st

Greta A

14.48 Seconds

 

2nd

Hurstbridge A

15.53 Seconds

 

3rd

Chiltern A

16.42 Seconds

 

4th

Torquay A

16.78 Seconds

 

5th

Mandurang A

16.82 Seconds

 

B Division:

 

1st

 

Eldorado B

 

17.35 Seconds

 

2nd

Irrewarra A

19.4 Seconds

 

3rd

Dunolly A

20.1 Seconds

 

4th

Eldorado D

20.22 Seconds

 

5th

Beazley’s Bridge C

20.42 Seconds

 

C Division:

1st

Plenty A

20.56 Seconds

 

2nd

Greta D

20.73 Seconds

 

3rd

Doreen A

20.96 Seconds

 

4th

Connewarre C

21.11 Seconds

 

5th

Dunrobin/Nangeela D

21.19 Seconds

 

To download full results and aggregates, visit the Rural Championship Results page here

 

Published in VFBV News

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

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

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

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

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

Detailed results are available for download below.

To see results from the 2016 VFBV State Urban Junior Championships, click here.

Published in VFBV News
Friday, 11 March 2016 00:00

Position Vacant – VFBV Support Officer

VFBV Support Officer – North East Region (Districts 12, 13, 22, 23 and 24)

VFBV is seeking to appoint a VFBV Support Officer to work in regional Victoria with VFBV District Councils, Brigades and volunteers to facilitate consultation, issues resolution and volunteer engagement. This is an existing position, with the incumbent due to leave the role at the end of April this year.

In addition to relevant skills, candidates will need to understand CFA and volunteerism, be good listeners and be able to navigate through complex issues resolution, be self-starters and have a passion to improve arrangements that benefit the welfare and efficiency of CFA volunteers.

Extensive regional Victorian work travel is envisaged and flexible work base locations will be considered for the position, with the priority focus to assign a support officer in the CFA North East Region covering Districts 12, 13, 22, 23 and 24.

Flexible working arrangements, to cater for extensive evening and weekend work, will be tailored to match the needs of our volunteer membership base.

This is a full time position giving the right candidate an opportunity to really put his/her stamp on the VFBV of the future.

All applications must include both a current resume and a cover letter addressing the key selection criteria outlined in the attached position description.

Send applications to the CEO, VFBV, PO Box 453, Mt. Waverley, Vic. 3149 or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Applications close 28 March, 2016.

For further information contact Cathie Smith on 03 9886 1141

Download the Position Description here

Return to the VFBV website

Published in VFBV News
Wednesday, 09 March 2016 00:00

VFBV’s Fire Wise Page – March 2016

<Download page as PDF>

FIRE WISE: SHARING AND BUILDING KNOWLEDGE

By Andrew Ford, VFBV Chief Executive Officer

It won’t have been missed by most of you that there has been a name change to this important publication.

Some people might struggle with this I know, others will love it, and some won’t care – what’s in a name, some might say.

So what’s in the name? In the past and certainly into the future, this publication is one of the many important channels for information to be passed on, for first hand stories to be shared in order that we collectively learn, pass on knowledge, and as the name suggests, get wiser.

In CFA we talk a lot about the value of local knowledge, of organisational memory, and of the invaluable practical knowhow that comes from years of on ground experience.

In today’s dynamic world the value and importance of learning and gaining knowledge through the passing down of stories and first hand experiences should not be underestimated.

Talking with a Sector Commander after one of our recent big fires, he reflected on the gratitude of local community members (and many of these were relative newcomers) and their thankfulness that the CFA “just knew how the fire would behave”, “knew what to do” and “seemed amazingly calm” despite it being years since that community had experienced such a severe fire.

The training and experience of volunteers on that fireground was abundantly clear but there was also a deeper knowledge and inherited memory of the way things would pan out that made an enormous difference to achieving the terrific outcome and the Sector Commander reflected on the dozens of stories that had been shared down through time that built their collective knowledge.

So what’s in the name – Fire Wise – a vital communication tool to share information and stories so that we can build capability, celebrate, remember and learn.

Congratulations on being decisive enough to take the step Gordon, and I look forward to the value and role of this publication being widely recognised into the future.

CFA RED PAPER

Elsewhere on this page, you will see details of CFA’s Red Paper, and I urge you to see this as a great opportunity to shape CFA’s future direction.

One of the things of most concern to VFBV and volunteers in recent years is that external factors have too often overridden CFA’s setting of its own priorities.

VFBV’s detailed submission to the State Government’s Fire Services Review plus many previous VFBV submissions are already a key part of volunteer input to the Red Paper, and I urge you to have your say as both a contribution to the outcome and a form of support for this proactive decision making by CFA.

 

RED PAPER

We encourage every volunteer to take CFA’s Red Paper survey online – member input is open until 27 March and the survey consists of three questions.

While many volunteers feel CFA has been heavily scrutinised, reviewed and subjected to any number of external inquiries in recent years, the Red Paper is about CFA making its own decisions and setting its own path for the coming 10 years.

Naturally, practical input from volunteers on the front line is essential.

CFA says the Red Paper will inform its engagement with its stakeholders and Government about future investment, and give it authoritative evidence about what it needs and why; from fire trucks and stations, to new front line or support staff, community programs, technology innovation and research.

The survey asks three questions about; how the risks faced by communities will change, the changes CFA needs to make and what CFA should focus on achieving over the next 10 years.

You can find the Red Paper survey at http://cfa.engagementhq.com/red-paper

 

TATURA’S TRIPLE SUCCESS

Hosts Tatura have won their third VFBV Urban Junior Championships in a row, with an impressive performance, taking the Dry, Wet and Under 14 Aggregates to win the Grand Aggregate by a clear margin.

At the end of the day, Tatura A came home with 89 points, leading Sale A with 41 and Moe A with 37 points.

Moe A and Sale A also appeared in the top three in most of the Aggregates, and other strong performers were Koo Wee Rup A and Melton A.

The championships attracted more than 700 competitors in 79 teams representing 47 Brigades from all over Victoria and two from Western Australia.

You can download full results here, or for more stories from the championships, see page 11 of the March 2016 edition of Fire Wise.

 

CANCER LAW: DON’T STOP NOW

Proposed presumptive legislation – the Firefighters’ Cancer Law – is something we anticipate will be in Parliament soon, but there are still unresolved questions, and now is the time to make sure your local MPs fully understand the issue of possible discrimination against volunteers.

Our main concern is that the legislation may contain a barrier to volunteers accessing compensation, in the form of an arbitrary ‘incident threshold’ - possibly requiring 150 incidents in any five-year period before they become eligible.

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

We are also concerned the Government is yet to finalise the legislation and whether or not commitments to treat CFA volunteers equally with career fire fighters will be maintained.

VFBV has sent a letter and supporting information to your Brigade Captains, Secretaries and VFBV Delegates, and you are encouraged to discuss the concerns with your Brigade and take them up with Government MPs that cover your area as soon as possible.

Approaching local MPs is not difficult, and can range from a formal letter to a simple email, a chat at a local event, or a letter or story in your local newspaper.

The legislation is due soon, don’t wait until you know a firefighter with cancer or flawed legislation is passed, speak up now.

There is more information at www.vfbv.com.au

 

YOUTH NETWORK

The VFBV Youth Network will shortly begin to recruit young people in each District.

It is a key initiative for the year and will give younger volunteers a permanent place in VFBV’s decision making at local and state levels.

Each District Panel will be made up of five to 10 young volunteers aged 18 to 35 years who will send a representative to a VFBV State Youth Advisory Committee that will inform the VFBV Board and State Council.

The District Panels will deal with issues from a youth perspective, not just youth specific issues, and like the existing VFBV District Councils, each District Panel will work to resolve issues at the local level wherever possible, as well as raising statewide matters at state level.

We are now recruiting local champions in each District to support our young people and start identifying and inviting those young people to be involved as potential youth representatives.

 

GREAT NEWS ON SCANNERS

VFBV, with the support of CFA, has secured extra funding for more subsidised digital scanners for Brigades and Groups.

All Tier 1 orders have been dispatched to Brigades and Groups, and those who placed Tier 2 orders for any remaining units will now receive their full order, rather than a share of any that were left over after Tier 1.

Brigades with Tier 2 orders have been sent notification and have until 15 May to send in their payment for the additional subsidised units.

Over 7,000 scanners have already been delivered under the VESEP funded scheme negotiated by VFBV and CFA.

VFBV first raised the need for a subsidy scheme in 2010, with a survey that revealed thousands of scanners and listening sets that would become obsolete when CFA radio channels switched to digital technology.

 

VOLUNTEER VIDEO FOR THE COMMUNITY

VFBV’s clever animated video is getting a great reception. It has now been viewed an estimated 50,000 times online and will be available soon from your District Council for use in local presentations.

The video tells the story in simple pictures about the huge volunteer surge capacity that allows CFA to call on thousands of trained, experienced firefighters at any time, the professional levels of training and the wide range of roles that volunteers perform.

Your District Council will soon receive copies of the video on USB memory stick, for use by Brigades planning open days, public events, community information meetings or discussions with local Members of Parliament, Councils and other decision makers.

If you haven’t seen the video, visit www.youtube.com/user/vfbvtv

 

ULTRALIGHT PROTECTION SYSTEMS

The VFBV/CFA Joint Equipment & Infrastructure Committee is investigating crew protection systems for CFA’s light vehicles.

There are over 150 ultra-light tankers and slip-on vehicles that were not covered under the crew protection system retrofit due to a lack of a suitable system.

Two new products designed to provide protection against radiant heat and direct flame contact in the event of a burn-over are now being evaluated; a Polymer Gel System and a Compressed Air Foam System.

Both products have shown promising early signs, with experimental testing during field burn-overs in moderate bushfire intensity conditions planned for early autumn 2016.

The committee will keep you updated.

 

SURVEY COMING SOON

Register now for the 2016 VFBV Volunteer Welfare & Efficiency Survey.

A record 2,500 volunteers took part last year, and the new VICSES version of the survey achieved success in its first year.

The detailed 2015 survey report will be out soon, taking volunteers’ opinions and comments to VFBV and CFA Boards, CFA’s senior management, VICSES, the Emergency Management Commissioner and the Minister for Emergency Services.

Each year’s results are compared with previous years' figures to show trends in how volunteers feel on each issue.

It is a co-operative process; VFBV and the CFA Board have studied successive years' results and continue to use the survey to highlight aspects of volunteer support that need attention.

Sign up by sending your name, Brigade/Unit and District or Region to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or request a posted survey on paper on (03) 9886 1141.

 

D13 PRESIDENT MOVES ON

VFBV District 13 President Bill Watson AFSM has stepped down from the role after distinguished service to the volunteers and career staff of the District.

Bill has retired and is moving to Wonthaggi, where he has volunteered in the past, and will continue his volunteering with CFA and his support of VFBV.

At District 13, Bill has shown strong leadership on the Firefighters’ Cancer Law issue and all aspects of the welfare of volunteers.

While his operational commitment has been exceptional, he has truly made his mark as a networker who has reached out to those volunteer families struggling in the aftermath of fires, drought and floods, and was recognised with CFA’s Outstanding Service Medal for his work in the wake of the 2009 fires.

    

WELFARE PATROL

In the wake of the major fires of summer, VFBV delegates, officials and Board Members have been hard at work, meeting with Brigades in the affected areas and conducting welfare checks on individual volunteers.

We have also posted a fresh list of government support services for people affected by bushfires and other natural disasters, on the VFBV web-site at www.vfbv.com.au

If you are in need of practical assistance or could use a sympathetic ear, don’t forget that CFA Peer Support is available through your CFA District Office, contact your VFBV State Councillor or talk to your own Brigade.

 

THE LATEST NEWS

Get the latest in our email newsletter or VFBV’s popular Two Minute Briefing from the VFBV/CFA Joint Committees.

Register at www.vfbv.com.au - click on the VFBV Newsletter box.

Join the discussion on our Facebook page at www.facebook.com/cfavol or follow us on Twitter at www.twitter.com/vfbv or on Instagram @volunteer_fire_brigades_vic

 

Published in VFBV News
Saturday, 27 February 2016 00:00

VFBV 2016 Junior Urban State Championships

Tatura A has won the title of Champion Team.  You can download detailed results for every event below.

The Final Aggregate Results are as follows;

DRY AGGREGATE:
1st TATURA A 57 points
2nd SALE A 26 points
3rd KOOWEERUP A 18 points

WET AGGREGATE
1st TATURA A 32 points
2nd MOE A 24 points
3rd SALE A 15 points

UNDER 14 YEARS AGGREGATE
1st TATURA A 61 points
2nd KOOWEERUP A 26 points
=3rd MELTON A & MOE A 14 points

UNDER 17 YEARS AGGREGATE
1st SALE A 41 points
2nd TATURA A 28 points
3rd MOE A 23 points

GRAND AGGREGATE
1st TATURA A 89 points
2nd SALE A 41 points
3rd MOE A 37 points

 

Published in VFBV News
Page 1 of 4
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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