14April2024

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Apply now, 2022 Churchill Fellowship applications are now open and will close Thursday 28 April.

Churchill Fellowships offer a diverse range of people from all walks of life an opportunity to travel overseas for four to eight weeks to explore a topic or issue that they are passionate about. We encourage applications from all sectors of the community and in any field or topic of interest.

No prescribed qualifications are required in order to apply for a Churchill Fellowship, and the topic of your proposed project is limitless, provided a willingness to share your findings with the Australian community is evident.

Applicants are empowered to design their own projects to explore international best practice and innovation that can be applied in Australia.

Information for Emergency Responders

A series of virtual information sessions based around specific themes is being held to inspire project ideas and guide people through the application process. Each session features existing Churchill Fellows sharing their experiences, and live Q&As. The series includes a specific Emergency Responders session on Tuesday March 15, from 5pm to 5.50pm (AEDT) featuring:

  • Fire and Rescue NSW station officer Bronnie Mackintosh who travelled the world researching ways fire agencies are working to increase the involvement of women and people from ethnically diverse backgrounds. Her findings led her to found Girls on Fire.

  • Tim Day, officer in charge of Victoria’s Homicide Squad, who examined operating models for international homicide squads, with a view to building Australia’s national capability.

 

Visit: https://lu.ma/ChurchillFellowshipFirstResponders

An Information Sheet is available for download below.

Applications can be made online until 28 April 2022. Registration for the virtual sessions is essential. To book and for more information visit churchillfellowships.com.au 

Wednesday, 09 March 2022 15:37

Volunteers honoured by road naming

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Having been a deputy group officer for a number of years, Jan Cleary became CFA’s first female group officer in 2010 and held the position for four years.

 “I wanted to be group officer because I knew I could do a  good job,” Jan said. “I enjoyed coordinating, liaising with people and organising.  And I cared about the people in my group and wanted to do my best for them. They are a great group of people.

“During incidents, I worked at our group HQ assigning roles and making sure we had enough people available. I knew the area and the local brigades’ strengths.

“Situations can change very quickly and I enjoyed organising strike teams and being on the go.”

Jan is a CFA volunteer with Lakes Entrance and Mossi-Tambo. She first joined CFA in the mid 1990s.

“Tambo Group was looking for someone to work on the comms vehicle and as I had an interest in radios at the time I was happy to help,” Jan said. “At the time, my children were part of Mossi-Tambo in CFA competitions, so I was already involved with the brigade.”

From there, Jan obtained her truck licence and began getting more involved with turnouts, starting with just driving the truck onto the apron.

“Things snowballed and I was encouraged to do operational training. Most brigade members had the attitude that everyone should get involved   and were very supportive. Ex-Captain David Skinner was a great mentor.”

Jan trained in peer support in 1998.

“I did peer support work during and after the 2019-20 fire season,” Jan said. It was full-on for a long time. People struggled and needed support and referrals.” 

Since 2017, Jan has been a VFBV Board member which she finds very rewarding, as it gives a great insight into what is involved in supporting our people at state level.

Jan is also a member of the South East Regional Inclusion and Fairness Council.

 

Pictured left to right: Jan Cleary, Samantha Rothman and Sue Sheldrick with CFA CEO Natalie MacDonald.

A street at the new CFA VEMTC training facility in Central Highlands has been named after CFA volunteer, Samantha Rothman, who has been recognised for her commitment to training and development.

The new state-of-the-art facility near Ballan was unveiled on Tuesday 23 November and features a driving course with 10 streets named in honour of illustrious CFA members.

CFA unveiled Samantha Street, named after Samantha, in recognition of her localised work at CFA, secondary school programs and broader dedication to volunteerism in her community.

Samantha joined Bacchus Marsh’s junior program in 1988 when she was 14 years old and became a senior member around three years later.

Through the strong guidance of brigade leaders, she became the brigade’s first female member of the Brigade Management Team (BMT) in her early 20s.

At 25 years old, she moved to Maryborough where she joined the local brigade and has now spent 20 years as a firefighter.

She holds the rank of 3rd Lieutenant currently at Maryborough Fire Brigade, making her the first female Lieutenant at the brigade.

Samantha describes herself as having a strong interest in providing training and education for all.

“I’ve been fortunate enough to have been led by some great mentors during my time at CFA, and those people provided myself and others with an equal opportunity for training and leadership development,” she said.

Samantha’s incredible passion for learning and development extends beyond her CFA journey, having founded an award-winning school emergency services program called the Emergency Services Journey at Maryborough Education Centre where she works as a secondary teach

Additionally, she has formed local youth groups and led training courses as a volunteer for Life Saving Victoria.

She has also been a member of the VFBV Board for eight years and currently holds the position of State Vice President.

“CFA is an amazing organisation and there’s so much we can learn from each other from what we do,” she said.

“From the comradery, the culture, brigade atmosphere and inclusiveness; there’s so much we all get out of being a part of CFA.

“I want to continue promoting our training programs and foster continued skill improvement across all members.”

As a firefighter, Samantha has been involved in some of the state’s most devastating fires, including Black Saturday and the 2019-20 bushfires.

“I was on a Strike Team in Kinglake West during Black Saturday and that was one of the most impactful teams I’d been a part of,” she said.

“While devastating and somewhat terrifying, I’ve had the once-in-a-lifetime experience of helping to fight fires in Mallacoota during the 2019-20 bushfires.

“It was quite the amazing experience to be flown in and evacuated on HMAS Choules.”

A valuable part of working in CFA strike teams for Samantha was being able to meet new people.

“Everyone is there for the same reason regardless of their background – and that’s to help others during an emergency,” Samantha said.

“I’ve made some incredible friends and connections through these opportunities and it goes to show how strong the CFA membership really is.”

Being honoured at the new VEMTEC training facility has come as a surprise to Samantha, but she said it is a recognition of so many others who have contributed to her journey within CFA and other volunteer ventures.

“I feel extremely proud, but I must acknowledge the many people I’ve met who are so dedicated and work so hard for their community,” she said.

“I have worked with some great teams during my time at CFA and I see this as an acknowledgment of that.

“Ultimately, a brigade or program can only work if it has good people within it.”

 

The devastation of the Ash Wednesday bushfires left young mum Sue Sheldrick wanting to do more to help affected communities. While she was unaware at the time, this grim start to 1983 was also the start of a ground-breaking journey for both Sue and CFA.

Sue joined Research Fire Brigade in May 1983, before transferring to the Wattle Glen brigade in 1986, where she undertook all the training required to become an operational firefighter with a busy urban brigade.

When she relocated her young family to regional Victoria in 1994, Sue transferred to the Killawarra brigade. Almost immediately, Sue found herself longing to don a BA set again and respond to structural fires. To satisfy this, she also joined the somewhat busier Wangaratta brigade, holding dual membership at both brigades.

Sues desire to do more with CFA didn’t stop there. Following a brigade election in 1994, Sue became the first female Captain in the history of CFA, a role she held for almost six years. This was an almost accidental situation, after the existing Captain moved away from the area, forcing an election to be called.

Sue reflects on this as a time of symbolism for women, which opened the floodgates for women to choose their own journey in CFA.

“I feel proud to know I’ve been part of a change, which was an evolution of women’s roles not only in emergency management, but within the community in general,” she said.

The significance of being the first female Captain for CFA, along with her ongoing achievements in emergency management is what led to a street at the newest VEMTC facility being named in her honour.

“I’m really honoured to receive this nomination. However, it’s not about me. It’s an opportunity to put female firefighters, future and existing CFA members of all callings on the map. Literally on the map, by way of a street named in my honour,” she said.

“This recognises the work that females have done for a long time in CFA. It’s not always talking on the radio or cooking with the Ladies Auxiliary. There are many women who fit in volunteering duties around family and work commitments.”

Whilst still an active operational firefighter, Sue’s main focus is her Incident Management Team (IMT) role as a level 3 Public Information Officer (PIO). 

Sue says: “I still try and jump on a truck where I can, but my focus is on now on my IMT role, as these roles are so important. My PIO role dovetails into all the conversations I’ve had with community members over the past 38 years.”

Sue’s journey has come full circle since the fateful Ash Wednesday bushfires in 1983. While she initially offered assistance to her local CFA brigade, Sue ended up volunteering with SES, aiding in local recovery support.

Along with 38 years of dedicated CFA service, Sue is also an employee of SES doing what she loves best, assisting the community.

 

This article has been republished from CFA News and Media.


About VFBV: VFBV is established under the Country Fire Authority Act and is the peak body for CFA Volunteers in Victoria. VFBV works tirelessly to represent, advocate and support CFA volunteers to the CFA Board and management, governments, ministers, members of parliament, councils, instrumentalities, business and the public. Our vision is for Strong Volunteerism, Embraced to Build Community Resilience for a Safer Victoria.

 
This article is part of our series celebrating women in CFA for International Women's Day.

 

Tuesday, 08 March 2022 16:53

A celebration of CFA's rural women

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The vital role of women to their communities, their brigades, and to CFA as an organisation is being celebrated as CFA marks International Rural Women’s Day on 15 October.

Libby Garoni (pictured) is one of the thousands of women who volunteer with CFA to help her community in Victoria’s north east.

As a 3rd lieutenant at Gundowring Fire Brigade and Deputy Group Officer of the Bogong Group, Lt. Garoni said she there’s nothing like living in a rural area.

“I’m from north east Victoria and while I lived in Melbourne for a while, I’m a country girl at heart,” she said.

“I’ve been a CFA member for more than 20 years, and actually joined when a local member came round to ask my husband to join. I’ve always been a bit of a do-er and always been part of community organisations, so I told him I’d sign up as well.

“I certainly wasn’t the first female member of Gundowring Brigade but when I first started, there weren’t a lot of women in the roles that I’ve taken on.

“I think when people see women out there having a go, they’re much more likely to get out and be part of it, and there are a lot more young women joining nowadays which is fantastic.”

The number of women in CFA’s ranks has been increasing over many years, with 12,622 female volunteers currently supporting their communities in operational, support, and junior capacities.

Poolaijelo Fire Brigade captain Celia Scott said being female doesn’t hold her back from doing anything as a CFA volunteer.

“I don’t see myself as a female volunteer firefighter, simply a volunteer firefighter, she said.

“People out here in the middle of nowhere are some of the hardest working people, and without those types of rural people, we’d be a bit stuffed.

“CFA is made of these local women and these local people, which is why it’s so important to rural communities.”

CFA Chief Executive Officer Natalie MacDonald said opportunities like International Rural Women’s Day provide a chance to recognise what rural women bring to their communities and to CFA as an organisation.

Having grown up in a rural area, Natalie is only too aware of how important rural women are to the protection and the future of their communities.

“CFA’s women are great role models showcasing the strength, determination, diversity of skill and adaptability of women to the whole Victorian community and beyond.

“We are committed to providing a welcoming, inclusive and safe place to volunteer and work, and wants to continue to attract and retain members of diverse backgrounds and experiences that reflect our communities.”

Pictured above: Celia Scott, Captain Poolaijelo Fire Brigade, middle holding helmet. 

 

This article has been republished from CFA News and Media.


About VFBV: VFBV is established under the Country Fire Authority Act and is the peak body for CFA Volunteers in Victoria. VFBV works tirelessly to represent, advocate and support CFA volunteers to the CFA Board and management, governments, ministers, members of parliament, councils, instrumentalities, business and the public. Our vision is for Strong Volunteerism, Embraced to Build Community Resilience for a Safer Victoria.

 
This article is part of our series celebrating women in CFA for International Women's Day.

 

This International Women’s Day, we catch up with District 7’s four female brigade captains.

CFA’s District 7 proudly boosts four female captains; Helen Wood (Barwon Heads brigade), Ali Jordan (Highton brigade), Niki Habibis (St Leonards-Indented Head brigade) and Kaylene Stocks (Winchelsea brigade).

When CFA firefighter Kaylene Stocks gets paged to an emergency, her son Kayden recognises the signal and heads straight for the door.

“He knows the difference between a fire call and a regular message and gets ready to go so I can drop him at his grandparents and respond to the incident,” Kaylene laughs.

Just like Kaylene, Kaydan has grown up around CFA after his mum and older sister followed in his grandfather’s steps about seven years ago. Kaylene’s sister and brother-in-law are also members.

“It’s great - sometimes we’re three generations on the same truck,” Kaylene says of volunteering alongside her daughter and father.

“I always wanted to join, but I was quite big so I made it my goal to join once I had lost weight.”

Dropping 52 kilos, she tackled operational duties head on, qualifying to become a firefighter and taking on roles such as Community Safety Officer and 4th Lieutenant.

Recently, she became one of four female brigade captains in CFA’s District 7, spanning from Geelong to Lorne

“It’s a real honour and I’m happy to bring a new element and make sure the brigade meets the new standards as CFA is always evolving,” she says.

“We all like to turn out but as a leader, we have to make sure we all have the skillset so we all come home safe.”

More women have joined the brigade since she first started, which is welcome as many are available during daytime hours that some other members may not be.

“The longer-serving members treat us no different and that is all I ask. That’s the great thing, we look at skillset and not if someone’s male or female.

“At last year’s Mt Mercer fire, Dad drove the truck and I was the crew leader of an all-female crew and we did it, we were there all day working on that fire just like everyone else.”

Highton CFA’s new captain Ali Jordan, who was elected Highton’s first female captain late last year, also has firefighting in her blood but says she still has much to learn and is looking forward to working with a great brigade management team.

“I grew up in the brigade as my dad has been a member for 30 years and is also an ex-captain,” she says.

Beginning her formal CFA journey as a junior with Belmont fire brigade, Ali joined Highton as an operational member at 16.

In her 16 years with CFA, she’s held the roles of Secretary, brigade Communications Officer and 1st Lieutenant and was recently elected the brigade’s first female Captain and is also Deputy Group Officer for Geelong group and Geelong group Communications Officer.

“I certainly didn't think I'd be the brigade’s first female captain, but it's such an honour and I hope I can be a role model to other females in leadership roles,” she says.

“I feel really privileged and excited to be leading the Brigade with a great BMT behind me. I'm really looking forward to all the challenges and opportunities that come with the role. I'm sure there will be a lot to learn!”

Barwon Heads captain Helen Wood, who has worn the captain’s helmet a bit longer with her five years at the helm of her brigade, said that Ali’s attitude was exactly the right one as she embarks on her journey.

“You have to be prepared for a lot of work and having done a lot of the other roles in the brigade helps enormously as it gives you an understanding of what CFA needs from the brigade,” she said.

“I usually say only 3-5 per cent is wearing the red hat and turning out to jobs; the majority of a captain’s work is really admin. But you’re also the face of the brigade and it’s nice to be recognised in the community in that role.”

Helen credits her leadership journey to the positive experience as a volunteer, first with the Barwon Heads Surf Life Saving Club and then with CFA.

“There had been female members before my time, but when I joined CFA I was the only female volunteer at my brigade,” she said.

“It hasn’t always been easy, but you have to believe in yourself and your abilities,” she said.

It’s a sentiment echoed by Niki Habibis, who has not only volunteered with St Leonards-Indented Head fire brigade for the past 26 years, but who also works for CFA in the role of Project Manager, Volunteer Recruitment and Retention based out of CFA Headquarters..

As a Captain for the past 16 years, Niki has paved the way for more recent female captains both in District 7 and CFA-wide.

“I never thought I’d become captain, and when I did I didn’t think it’d be for this long,” she laughs. “I just joined because I was new to the community and wanted to meet people.”

She credits her longevity as captain to her brigade.

“We’re quite a close-knit brigade, we’re social and support each other,” she said.

“I’d like to think it’s a collaborative approach and everyone has a role. My role is to bring the brigade together and to stand up for the brigade and be their voice. Bringing people together and creating a culture that is inclusive.”

This article has been republished from CFA News and Media.


About VFBV: VFBV is established under the Country Fire Authority Act and is the peak body for CFA Volunteers in Victoria. VFBV works tirelessly to represent, advocate and support CFA volunteers to the CFA Board and management, governments, ministers, members of parliament, councils, instrumentalities, business and the public. Our vision is for Strong Volunteerism, Embraced to Build Community Resilience for a Safer Victoria.

 
This article is part of our series celebrating women in CFA for International Women's Day.

 

Saturday, 05 March 2022 16:01

International Women's Day 2022

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Today on 8 March 2022, VFBV is recognising the achievements of women in VFBV, CFA, emergency services and their communities and are encouraging others to do the same.

The theme for this year’s international Women’s Day is BreakTheBias – where collectively we can all BreakTheBias for a gender equal world.

24 hours a day, 7 days a week more than 12,000 female CFA volunteers dedicate their time and energy to challenge the bias of what a firefighter is and show how women can be involved in emergency services and are leading the way for future generations.

To all the fabulous, dedicated, highly skilled and much appreciated women in CFA and across all fire and emergency services, thank you for the work you do today and everyday.

Collectively we can all work together to BreakTheBias and create a more gender equal world within our brigades, workplaces, communities, CFA and the wider emergency services in Victoria.

 

About International Women’s Day

International Women’s Day is celebrated each year on March 8, it is a global celebration of the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women while also being a call to action for accelerating gender parity.

 

The first International Women’s Day gathering occurred in 1911, you can read more about the history of International Women’s Day on the International Women’s Day website. 

Friday, 04 February 2022 16:15

February 2022 Newsletter

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Don’t be a drip! Take a sip! 
By Adam Barnett, VFBV Chief Executive Officer 

Well, what an interesting fire season this is shaping up to be. While we often joke about the four seasons in a day when describing Melbourne weather, this would actually be a very fitting description of the fire season so far.

And while there is still plenty of season left before we call it, predictions of a milder and wetter season have certainly been accurate, with the usual run of spike days sprinkled in for good measure. Despite heavy rain in some areas, there are still large parts of the State that are bone dry and require our vigilance. Recent fires along the Victorian/South Australian border and throughout the western districts are a good example of how quickly things can turn.

Thank you to all members who have done an exceptional job and gone from dealing with fire on one day, only to then swing into supporting storm and flood emergencies on the next. Lightening has been a particular aggravator this season and will likely continue over the next little while. The agility, professionalism and duty displayed by all responding members has been outstanding as usual.

And while I touched on heat safety messages and the importance of hydration in last month’s column, a recent small spike of heat-related incidents from recent fires urges me to repeat it.

Please remember to hydrate, hydrate, hydrate. Drinking when you’re thirsty is too late. Thirst is your bodies alarm bell that you are approaching serious dehydration. And even then, it can take 45 minutes for your body to rehydrate from the fluids you take to quench that thirst. More serious dehydration can lead to heat stroke or sending your body into shock and land you in hospital where best case scenario is you’re looking at a minimum of 24 hours of intravenous fluids.

It sounds like such a simple message that we often feel embarrassed to have to say it, but it is one of those basics that can be easily overlooked when we get so busy. And while the extra humidity is throwing us all for a bit of a loop with the extra perspiration, it can’t hurt to keep the message on full rotation.

Could I please request crew leaders and senior volunteers continue to spruik the message at every opportunity. There may very well be a member whose life you save from this very simple reminder.

COVID-SAFE

Thank-you also to members for the very disciplined approach crews are continuing to take with COVID safe practices on the fire ground. We have continued our outstanding record of keeping COVID exposures to an absolute minimum.

This is not only critical to keep our brigades online but protects our service delivery and vital volunteer surge capacity.

This hard work and diligence are paying off, with exposures acquired through CFA activities remaining relatively low. This demonstrates the professionalism of all CFA members and the efficacy of high compliance with the COVID-Safe basics of physical distancing, sanitising and ensuring masks are worn on those occasions that physical distance cannot be maintained. (Such as in the fire truck.)

VFBV continues to work hard with stakeholders to ensure members are supported through the pandemic, with the VFBV Welfare Fund continuing to catch anyone falling through the cracks and needing some extra assistance.

After long advocacy, the ability to request targeted additional vaccine hubs for areas that have been having difficulty accessing booster shots is finally a reality. If you have been having difficulty making a booking due to limited opportunities in your area, please ensure this gets raised with your Captain or Group Officer so it can be raised with your ACFO. Deputy Chief Officer’s now have the ability to submit requests for additional hubs from health for areas experiencing shortages, and where local demand indicates a need. So, ensuring this information is fed through your chain of command remains critical in making sure we match resources with demand.

I am also pleased to report that CFA’s Service Delivery Reporting Centre is now fully available to assist members update their CFA vaccine records. The dedicated staff that support brigades entering their fire reports 7 days a week have now been upskilled to support vaccine recording as part of business as usual.

While previously the vaccine hotline only operated during business hours with limited staff, with the extra training and commitment from the SDRC staff, members may now phone the SDRC on (03) 9262 8663 anytime between 9am and 9pm - seven days a week to update their vaccination status. While it is still preferred that members update their own status via the website, for those who can’t access Brigades online or are having difficulty, the phone option is a terrific way to provide an extra option for people who need a little more help and support to update their status.

And with the extra capacity now online, you will likely get straight through. So, if you’ve been put off by some delays in the past and have given up – give it another go. It’s easy and simple and should only take a minute or two.

And finally, VFBV is continuing to push for the increased provision of rapid antigen tests for all emergency service workers, to assist members who are exposed to COVID positive cases through their emergency response roles.

VFBV has been very critical of the approach taken by the sector to date that has seen CFA (and other emergency service partners) not receive any priority allocation of RATs from Government held supplies.

Instead, CFA and other agencies have been at the mercy of their own individual procurement processes on the open market, which has been extremely challenging given limited supplies across the private sector.

VFBV has sought the support and assistance of the Minister for Emergency Services and continues to advocate for greater Government support and assistance to help provide members with appropriate options to minimise isolation and other considerations that stem from COVID exposures experienced by volunteer emergency responders that impact themselves, their families, their employers and their businesses.

VALE

Our thoughts and prayers are with the family, friends and loved ones of South Australian CFS volunteer firefighter Louise Hincks.

Louise was fighting a blaze near Lucindale (in South Australia’s southeast) on the 21st January 2022 when she was hit by a falling, burning branch, as she and her crew battled the blaze, causing fatal injuries.

Louise was a devoted mother of two and joined the CFS in 1994. A member of the CFS Happy Valley Brigade, she was also a qualified psychologist in her everyday role which she used over the years to help dozens of her fellow CFS volunteers.

Louise was much loved and embodied the virtues and spirit of all volunteer firefighters, signing up to her local CFS brigade (Eden Hills) as a teenager and selflessly serving her community for almost 30 years with distinction – always looking to help others.

She will be sorely missed, and her tragic loss is felt across the entire firefighting family. VFBV on behalf of all Victorian firefighters extends its deepest sympathies to Louise’s family, brigade, peers and loved ones.

A fellow volunteer working with Louise was also seriously injured at the same time, and is expected to make a full recovery. We wish him a speedy recovery and also pay tribute to all responding crews, including CFA members, who assisted with cross border operations to bring the blaze under control.

WELFARE & EFFICIENCY SURVEY

Thank-you to all members who have completed the VFBV Volunteer Welfare and Efficiency Survey. There has been a terrific response so far.

The survey is now in its final weeks, so if you haven’t yet had a chance to do the survey, please visit www.vfbv.com.au/cfa to do it now.

The survey is a critical way to link grass roots members with decision makers and ensure that volunteers influence current and future priorities. It only takes about 10 minutes, and is central to keeping us informed about what is working and what isn’t.

Its ok to feel cynical from time to time about how long some things take to change. We all feel this way at times, but the important thing is to never give up.

I am constantly inspired by the passion and enthusiasm of our volunteers, and the selfless dedication and duty they display on a daily basis to keep their communities safe. It’s this passion that motivates us to never give up and always keep trying.

Participating in the annual survey is one small way we can all help the cause and ensure that volunteer views and feedback are at the top of the agenda.

To round out this month’s theme, I’ll leave you with a quote about water that intertwines perfectly with our commitment to volunteer advocacy:

“A river cuts through a rock not because of its power, but because of its persistence.”

Stay safe (and don’t forget to hydrate!)


Survey Closing Soon

This year’s VFBV Volunteer Welfare and Efficiency Survey is closing soon. 

Scan the QR code or visit our website to complete the survey today. 

This year’s survey is critically important. With a new CFA leadership, the results from this year’s survey will directly influence the upcoming years priority actions, and are central to our advocacy work with CFA about what needs to be done to improve the organisation. Our advocacy depends on robust volunteer feedback to help inform decision makers of the issues of most importance to you and our fellow volunteers.  

Be part of improving CFA and help us make a difference. 


 
Feedback Requested

Members would recall, earlier in the year CFA engaged in consultation with VFBV over proposed changes to its working with children business rule and policies.

Following member feedback, VFBV provided comprehensive feedback to CFA that while supporting the majority of the proposed changes in principle – we did not support CFA’s proposed procedure to deal with adverse notices.

It was VFBV’s view (informed by your feedback) that the proposed procedure did not afford sufficient procedural fairness, did not provide robust privacy to members, and there was a lack of structure in the arrangements to ensure a consistent and robust approach across the State. It was our view the procedure could not be cured by just tweaking it and instead requested that CFA form a working party to allow us to work with CFA to co-design a more suitable process.

CFA agreed to that request, and a small working party was formed consisting of 6 VFBV nominees and 3 CFA nominees. This working party has worked diligently since April to co-design a robust procedure that they believe provides for the safety of children and young people, ensures privacy and confidentiality throughout the process and affords procedural fairness.

CFA is now requesting formal consultation on the revised procedure.

You will note that the revised policy only deals with volunteers. A very similar staff procedure is also currently being developed and consulted on, and we are advised the intent will be to ensure both operate effectively the same, but with subtle differences to account for the slightly different procedures required for each cohort. (For example, staff suspension or dismissal involves a different process etc.)

VFBV is now seeking members review the updated procedure (available on our website), and provide any further comment/feedback to Christine Fryer (This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.) by Monday 14th February 2022.

When providing feedback - we would also be keen to gauge support for the revised procedure, so please feel free to indicate support and/or concerns.

We thank you in advance for your assistance and look forward to your feedback.

 

2022 State Champs

Entries are open for the 2022 State Championships which will be held on consecutive weekends in March 2022 at Mooroopna. All team entries and judge and official registrations will close on Sunday 20th February 2022.

The Urban Junior State Championship will be held on the weekend of Saturday 19th and Sunday 20th March with the Rural Senior and Junior and Urban Senior Championships on the following weekend Saturday 26th and Sunday 27th March.

Similar to the 2021 State Championships, all entries and registrations will again be collected online, please visit the VFBV Website for links to enter your team or register as a judge or official for any of the Championships.

Updated Rule Books are also available from the VFBV Website for both the Urban and Rural Competitions along with a list of local competitions being conducted in 2022.

Any Brigade or member needing assistance with the Team of Judge and Official registration process, please contact the VFBV office 9886 1141 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or CFA at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. 

 
Fire Wise – February 2022 online only edition

The February 2022 edition of Fire Wise has been published online only, this edition and past editions are available from the Fire Wise website.

You can support Fire Wise and the role it plays as an independent voice in keeping volunteers informed by becoming a subscriber. To become a Fire Wise subscriber visit the Fire Wise website or contact the Managing Editor of Fire Wise, Gordon Rippon-King either by phone 0402 051 412 or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. 

 

AFSM Honours


Included in the 2022 Australia Day Honours list was three CFA volunteers who were awarded the Australian Fire Service Medal (AFSM) in recognition of their contribution to the community.

John Clarke AFSM (Hilldene Fire Brigade) has been a dedicated CFA volunteer since 1965. His award recognises John for his dedication to improving the safety of the community from fires and other emergencies as well as his outstanding leadership qualities and management abilities, including his contributions during the 2009 Black Saturday fires.

Gill Metz AFSM (Riddells Creek Fire Brigade) has been a CFA member since 2000 and has held the roles of Lieutenant, Training Coordinator, Secretary and Group delegate. Gill has been committed to ensuring that volunteer response capabilities are recognised, measured and integrated into future planning and as an advocate for increased youth involvement and increased diversity within CFA.

Graeme Higgs AFSM (Drouin West Fire Brigade) has been a dedicated CFA volunteer for close to 50 years. Graeme has served in leadership roles for most of his time at CFA, including 20 years as Captain of Drouin West Brigade, junior leader and is currently a Deputy Group Officer of the Baw Baw Group.

This year’s honours also included two Fire Rescue Victoria firefighters Brad Quinn AFSM and Wayne Rigg AFSM. Wayne would be known to many CFA members, first joining CFA as a volunteer with the Eildon Fire brigade, before joining as a career firefighter and rising through the ranks to become CFA’s State Aircraft Unit Officer where he has made a significant contribution to the sectors aviation response.

VFBV congratulates all these members for their outstanding contribution.

 

Intermediate Bushfire Behaviour
CFA has implemented a VFBV recommendation to conduct pilot courses in parallel with the consultation process in Intermediate Bushfire Behaviour (IBB) which VFBV has been actively pursuing for sometime to ensure volunteers have every opportunity to grow their knowledge and transition to level 2 and above IMT positions including Ground Observing/ Field Intelligence and Sector Commander.

Intermediate Bushfire Behaviour is a pre-requisite for the above examples. IBB was updated in collaboration with EMV a number of years ago but was never formally released for use nor was it actively promoted as being available, sitting idle until recent discussions bought the issue to light.

As part of the IBB progression, VFBV is also continuing to actively pursue Ground Observing courses with a similar consultative pilot courses accepted by CFA to be held. We will keep you updated.

 

Inviting applications for the CFA Board
VFBV are seeking applications from any CFA volunteer interested in applying for any of the volunteer nominated positions on the CFA Board, with applications closing on Tuesday 8th February 2022. 

In addition to volunteer experience and knowledge, selection will have regard to any of the following: 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 CFA. 

Please visit the VFBV website for further details and the application process. Applications close 8th February 2022.

 

Position Vacant – VFBV Support Officer
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. 

​​​​​​​The position is a state role, with emphasis and focus on providing support throughout CFA's North West Region (CFA Districts 2, 14, 18 and 20). 

For full details and application process, please visit the VFBV website

Applications close Tuesday 8th February 2022. 

 
Update Your Status


For the information of members, CFA is obligated under the Health Directions to collect and store your vaccination status.

Members are reminded to update your CFA record after you receive your booster. You can do so via the CFA website, or by calling CFA’s Service Delivery Reporting Centre via (03) 9262 8663 between 9am to 9pm, 7 days a week.

Under Victoria’s new pandemic management framework, Chief Health Officer (CHO) directions have been replaced with Pandemic Orders that are now made by the health minister. CFA and other emergency service volunteers like the SES are all classified as ‘Emergency Service Workers’ under the current pandemic orders.

The order currently in place as at writing and relating to CFA is the COVID-19 Mandatory Vaccination (Specific Workers) Order 2022 (No.2) which commenced on 12 January 2022 and ends on the 12 April 2022. This order covers booster deadlines.

Under this order, emergency service workers who received their second dose on or before the 12th September last year – and who wish to continue to work outside their normal place of residence - are required to receive their 3rd dose by the 12 February 2022.

If you received your second dose after the 12th September last year, then you have until the 12 March 2022 to receive your third dose, unless you have a valid exemption.

Members can view all Pandemic orders for themselves at: www.health.vic.gov.au   

 

 
Recent articles on the VFBV website

2022 State Championships – Entries Now Open 

Inviting applications for the CFA Board 

Now Open – 2021/2022 VFBV Volunteer Welfare & Efficiency Survey 

Position Vacant – VFBV Support Officer (North West) 

Working with Children Adverse Notice Procedure 

Australia Day Honours 2022 

Updating your Vaccination Status (Update) 

 

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Either share this page with others who may enjoy the articles or encourage other volunteers to sign up to receive their own copy via email each month here

Friday, 04 February 2022 11:48

Updating your Vaccination Status (Update)

Written by

This article was first published on the 14th October, and has now been updated with Booster requirements for Emergency Services Workers.


For the information of members, CFA is obligated under the Health Directions to collect and store your vaccination status. CFA is requesting that all members please update their CFA record with their COVID-19 Vaccination status as soon as possible.

Members are reminded to update your CFA record after you receive your booster.

You can do so via the CFA website, or by calling CFA’s Service Delivery Reporting Centre via (03) 9262 8663 between 9am to 9pm, 7 days a week.

Under Victoria’s new pandemic management framework, Chief Health Officer (CHO) directions have been replaced with Pandemic Orders that are now made by the health minister. CFA and other emergency service volunteers like the SES are all classified as ‘Emergency Service Workers’ under the current pandemic orders.

The order currently in place as at writing and relating to CFA is the COVID-19 Mandatory Vaccination (Specific Workers) Order 2022 (No.2) which commenced on 12 January 2022 and ends on the 12 April 2022. This order covers booster deadlines.

Under this order, emergency service workers who received their second dose on or before the 12th September last year – and who wish to continue to work outside their normal place of residence - are required to receive their 3rd dose by the 12 February 2022.

If you received your second dose after the 12th September last year, then you have until the 12 March 2022 to receive your third dose, unless you have a valid exemption.

Members can view all Pandemic orders for themselves at: health.vic.gov.au

Members can update their status via any of the following methods: 

 

  1. ONLINE

    Members are encouraged to visit https://www.members.cfa.vic.gov.au/ and input their own status.


  2. BY PHONE

    If you can't access the website, or don't have a CFA online ID, you can call (03) 9262 8663 and provide your details over the phone. 

    This number is being staffed by CFA's Service Delivery Support Centre (SDRC) who are the same people that you call to enter your Fire Reports, and is open between 9am to 9pm.


  3. DISTRICT STAFF

    Your Brigade Administrative Support Officer (BASO) can also assist you. They are contactable through the usual arrangements, and details can be found in your District Contact Book.


  4. BRIGADE

    Brigade Captains, and your 1st Lieutenant can assist with the collection of data and are able to enter your details through their own CFA Brigades Online account. If Brigade Officer's are unsure of how to do this, they can contact their BASO for instructions.

 

Information on how to book your vaccine can be found here: Book your vaccine appointment | Coronavirus Victoria

Thursday, 27 January 2022 15:23

Australia Day Honours 2022

Written by

Included in the 2022 Australia Day Honours list was three CFA volunteers who were awarded the Australian Fire Service Medal (AFSM) in recognition of their contribution to the community.

VFBV congratulates these members for their outstanding contribution to CFA and broader community along with all other Australians recognised in the Australia Day honours this year.

John Clarke – Hilldene Fire Brigade

John has been a dedicated CFA volunteer for since 1965. This award recognises John’s for his dedication to improving the safety of the community from fires and other emergencies as well as his outstanding leadership qualities and management abilities which have been evident during times of the greatest need. John played a significant role in during the 2009 Black Saturday fires and demonstrated concern for his fellow members by ensuring that compassionate care was provided to those who required it following the fires. Over the years John has gone out of his way to share his knowledge and experience with other CFA members through training and exercises.

 

Graeme Higgs – Drouin West Fire Brigade

A volunteer for close to 50 years, Graeme is a respected and outstanding operational leader who has served CFA with distinction. Graeme has served in leadership roles for most of his time at CFA, including 20 years a Captain of Drouin West Fire Brigade, junior leader and is currently a Deputy Group Officer of the Baw Baw Group. During his time as Captain, Graeme identified the need for change and led the transition of the Drouin West Fire Brigade from a traditional rural fire brigade to a brigade responding to a mix of fires and incidents of an active urban/rural interface brigade. The professionalism of the Drouin West Fire Brigade that Graeme established can still be seen within the brigade today.

 

Gill Metz – Riddles Creek Fire Brigade

Gill has been a CFA member since 2000 and has held the roles of Lieutenant, Training Coordinator , Brigade Secretary and Group delegate. As well as volunteering with CFA, Gill has also worked for CFA and the Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning holding roles such as Regional Manager, Assistant Chief Officer and Deputy Chief Fire Officer. Gill has been committed to ensuring that volunteer response capabilities are recognised, measured and integrated into future planning and as an advocate for increased youth involvement and increased diversity within CFA.

 

Two Fire Rescue Victoria firefighters were also recognised with the honour of receiving the Australian Fire Service Medal. VFBV congratulates Brad Quinn and Wayne Rigg for their outstanding contribution to the state of Victoria.


Nominations for AFSM's

Nominations for AFSM's are accepted at any time through CFA's Honours and Awards Committee. 

The AFSM honours the distinguished service of members of fire services who make an exceptionable contribution to their communities. The AFSM recognises those whose service is above and beyond the normal zealous and faithful discharge of normal or ordinary service, either in the short or long term.

CFA volunteers are often modest and reluctant to seek out recognition for the service they have provided to their community and may not have a realistic appreciation of the impact they have had on CFA, their community, within VFBV or your Brigade or Group. They’re not in it for the honour or glory, but it’s up to each of us to ensure we take the time to say ‘thank-you’ to those people who have stepped up and help inspire us all to do better.

If you know a quiet achiever who has contributed to CFA, who goes above and beyond what could be reasonably expected of someone in a similar position, please consider nominating them for an AFSM.  

The Australian Honours system has been designed to break down artificial barriers and open the Australian Honours to all parts of our society. Any member of the community can nominate any other Australian citizen for an award.

It is also critically important we encourage nominations for groups who are typically under-represented in Australian Honours like the AFSM. In particular we are encouraging a greater gender mix.

Women in particular are under-represented in AFSM’s awarded when we consider the thousands of women within the fire services across the country. And while things are improving, much more can be done.

There are so many exceptional CFA women and men deserving to be recognised, so please consider nominating someone you feel is deserving.

A common misconception is that only those members who have decades worth of service are recognised by the Honours system. The AFSM is not a long-service award, its sole criterion is distinguished service. And while prolonged service forms part of the key criteria, ‘prolonged’ is considered by the honour and awards committee’s to be taken in context as to what is considered ‘longer than usual’ and in context of what is ‘above and beyond’ the normal or ordinary service expected. Exceptional service that is sustained over a period of time can be considered as satisfying the criteria. For example, has the members contribution been in excess of expectations for a ‘normal’ member and over what duration? The Committee will consider the nature of the service or achievement within the context of a member’s service history when weighing up the various criteria.

This is especially important for women within CFA who may have their service overlooked simply because they haven’t been a Captain or Group Officer for 30+ years. While these are important leadership roles – our service is a team environment, and everyone’s contribution is valued.

Nothing should take away from the incredible achievement decade long service is, but the Honours system is designed to recognise those that make a significant contribution, and to represent the things that our communities believe to be deserving of recognition, including from those who are perhaps trailblazers for others to follow. Think of those people who have pushed the boundaries or have been first to reach and hold leadership positions that has been inspirational to those around them. For example, think of members who have overcome additional barriers, like English not being their first language and who have toiled away to learn the language and become masterful communicators designing new innovative community safety engagements to CALD communities and serving as a role model for other community members. Who are the people you look up to? Who are the people who have really made a difference in your Brigade or Group? 

Distinguished service includes service that is above and beyond and can be short-term or prolonged. It is service that can be exemplified by; responsibility for an outstanding event that has proven to be of significant benefit to the fire service or community; development of a new system, procedure or technique that is unique and made a significant contribution to the fire service; or outstanding leadership in the encouragement and development of others, particularly youth within the fire services.

While it can seem daunting to nominate a potential recipient, some guiding principles that could assist in completing a nomination for an AFSM are:

  • In what role(s) has the nominee excelled?
  • How has the nominee demonstrated service worthy of recognition?
  • How has the nominee’s contribution affected a particular field, locality, brigade, group or community at large?
  • Over what period has the nominee made a major commitment?
  • Has the nominee’s contribution been recognised elsewhere?
  • What makes this person stand out from others?
  • What specific examples can be provided to show how the nominee’s contribution(s) have been outstanding?

Nominations for awards are strictly confidential. The person being nominated should not be approached for information or advised of the confidential nomination at any stage of the process.

 

Additional Resources to Assist

Honours and Awards Toolkit

Guide to Preparing Nominations for the Australian Fire Service Medal (AFSM)

AFSM Nomination Form

Want to discuss a potential nomination or need some more information? Contact This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. 

 

About the Australian Fire Service Medal 

Introduced in 1988, the Australian Fire Service Medal recognised distinguished service by members of Australian fire services and is awarded to both volunteer and paid members. The award recognised the distinguished service by members of a State or Territory Fire Service, a Fire Service of an agency of the Commonwealth, and the Fire Services of the External Territories of Christmas Island, Cocos (Keeling Island) and Norfolk Island.

The medal is awarded twice a year as part of the Australia Day award and Queen’s Birthday award announcements.

 

Criteria for the Australian Fire Service Medal 

To be considered for this award it would be expected that the nominee has given service beyond the norm exemplified by:

  1. Prolonged service distinguished by exceptional performance in a particular area that has proved significant benefit to the fire service; and one or more of the following.
  2. Responsibility for and management of an outstanding/exceptional event that has proven to be of significant benefit to the fire service, a community or community safety generally.
  3. Development of a new system, or procedure, or technique that is unique and has made a significant contribution to the fire service, a community or community safety generally.
  4. Outstanding leadership in the encouragement and development of others, particularly youth, within the fire service and the fostering and furthering of the aims of the fire service to the long-term benefit of the fire service and the community.
  5. Demonstrated creativity in the development and implementation of innovative changes that have made a significant contribution to the fire service, fire/emergency operations, or the interests of community safety.
Friday, 07 January 2022 11:39

January 2022 Newsletter

Written by

Have you had your say?

By Adam Barnett, VFBV Chief Executive Officer  

Welcome to 2022!

With temperatures exceeding 40 degrees in many parts of the State as we welcomed in the new year, it is a timely reminder for members to practice heat safety.

Just last month, Risk Frontiers published its latest research on fatalities caused by natural hazards in Australia. The latest research expanded on their previous work analysing heatwave fatalities between 1844 to 2010, where it was determined that heatwaves were second only to disease epidemics in lives lost from natural hazards. The latest research looks in depth at the period between July 2000 to June 2018 and finds that half of all heatwave fatalities occurred in Victoria, and a quarter in South Australia.

While many of us carry the tragic losses of the 2009 Black Saturday fires in our memories (173 fatalities) it is far less recalled that health authorities attributed 374 fatalities to the southeast Australia heatwave between 25th Jan – 9th Feb, 2009.

Similarly, the defining Black Friday fires of 1939 that led to the formation of CFA recorded 71 deaths, but the preceding heatwave led to 438.

Which begs the question, why isn’t more being done to build public education and awareness on the importance of having an extreme-heat plan to compliment other emergency plans like fire and storm? With the prediction of increased frequency of heatwaves, it is more important than ever to incorporate these conversations into our usual pre-summer community education. And while extreme heat emergencies fall more within the heath sector than fire, many of the messages are complementary and fit well together in our pursuit of community resilience and safety.

Closer to home, the importance of managing heat related stress remains critical to firefighter safety. Members are urged to be proactively hydrating at work or home prior to attending a call-out, and crew leaders and strike team leaders are reminded to monitor crews and ensure fluids and task rotation are being managed on the fireground. Operations bulletins recommend 15-20 mins work requires 20 mins rest in a shaded area during hot days. And lower arm cooling and use of cool wet towels under the arm pits and around the neck are all very effective methods to return cool blood to the core of the body during rest breaks.

The very late signs of dehydration include the onset of headache, dizziness, nausea, cramps and dry skin. If left untreated, dehydration can very quickly progress to heat stroke, so please don’t wait until you are thirsty to drink water, and don’t forget that water alone will not be enough to rehydrate you from fluids lost from sweat.  During active workload, firefighters can lose more than a litre of water per hour, so it is critical that sufficient water and electrolyte fluids are available to your crews.

OPERATING MODEL REVIEW

As the year finished up, I had the most unpleasant task of requesting volunteer feedback on EMV’s draft operating model review with a ridiculously short feedback deadline. Despite being published on the 17 November, the draft operating model review was provided four days before Christmas, with EMV requesting feedback by mid-January.

To say I was disappointed would be an understatement. To provide this timeline over the Christmas/New Year period during our busiest time of year is frankly disgraceful.

The lack of volunteer consultation throughout the review became very evident upon reading the draft. Rather than focus on the task of supporting and building emergency management capability across Class 1 and Class 2 agencies across the whole EM sector, the review seems to narrowly focus on building capacity by using largely Victorian public sector employees and recommending ‘permanent’ IMT’s. As one senior volunteer remarked to me after they read it - ‘it seems like they started with a recommendation then wrote the report to support the outcome.’

And whilst the VPS benefits from tangible targets and recommendations for business cases, the section purportedly addressing volunteer barriers and lack of support, training and accreditation for the sectors overwhelming volunteer workforce is simply backed up by what I can only describe as dismissive comments, motherhood statements and touchy-feely sentiments. Incredibly disappointing.

And while I could go on and on (and on) about the review’s shortcomings, and its lack of credibility given the poor consultation process - I will await further volunteer feedback. For those who have already responded – thank-you. For those that requested we communicate your anger at the poor process and ridiculous timelines, rest assured we will strongly communicate your frustrations.

If you are a senior volunteer with IMT experience operating at the Level 2 and 3 incident levels, and are interested in reviewing the report and providing written feedback to help inform VFBV’s position, please contact your District Council or Mark Dryden on This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.   

VOL SURVEY

A reminder that the most important annual survey that directly impacts and influences future priorities for CFA volunteers is underway and will close shortly.

The VFBV Volunteer Welfare and Efficiency survey is the largest survey of its kind in Victoria and connects grass root volunteers directly to decision makers to influence funding, priorities and initiatives aimed at improving CFA.

The survey opened on the 24th November, and will be open for around 12 weeks to provide plenty of opportunity for volunteers to participate.

I have yet to meet a volunteer who does not have an opinion on how well or how poor things are going within the fire services.

Yet, when I attend brigades and groups to discuss particular issues of concern, I am often asked about why certain projects or initiatives are underway, with people asking whose crazy idea said system/process or project was. Yet when I then ask how many of those present actually completed this year’s survey, it is clear how these ideas get up. As I point out – priorities and budgets are heavily influenced by those that do provide feedback, and how else do they expect VFBV to influence these conversations if they are not contributing to the data and our influence on a regular basis.

A quote attributed to President Harry Truman following his win in the 1948 American election was “decisions are made by those who show up.” And while this was particularly poignant for a country that does not have mandatory voting, I would argue it is equally important for an opt-in survey such as ours that was designed by volunteers for volunteers and has established itself as one of the most reliable measures of CFA volunteer sentiment and opinion we have.

A much less flattering sentiment to Truman’s could be ‘some show up and make the decisions, and some don’t show up and complain about the decisions being made.’ And while I think this is an over simplistic analogy, it certainly does serve to highlight the importance of getting involved.

The survey asks for your opinion on most aspects of your CFA experience. From training, consultation, people management, support from and cooperation across CFA, culture, how well volunteers are respected and how you feel about the future.

We take your privacy seriously with all your answers being confidential, and we never share your personal details with anyone including CFA. All results are deidentified, yet every comment and every response is analysed to understand what is working well and what isn’t.

Results and themes from last year’s survey have been instrumental in discussions onboarding the new CFA leaders including the CEO, Chief and members of the executive. For example, the cooperation themed questions provide feedback on engagement between volunteers and CFA by requesting information on whether volunteers feel they have been given adequate opportunity to provide input and feedback into decisions that affect them.

In recent results - volunteers indicated that they often get ‘direction’ from CFA and decisions are often made without consultation which diminishes the recognition of the skills and knowledge of senior and experienced volunteers. There was a strong feeling that even when consultation opportunities are presented or invited, decisions have already been made and it is just lip service. These are important perspectives that help us to work with CFA on improving things.

In the comments provided by respondents last year, many made some reference to the divide, even referred to as a chasm in some instances, between some paid staff and volunteers. A familiar thread to the comments was that they felt in some cases they were set up to fail. A common theme was that volunteers and brigades were often criticised for things they were not given adequate support for, sometimes by the very people employed to support them.

And while I truly believe that CFA is full of highly dedicated, experienced and passionate people both paid and unpaid, this feedback helps provide a barometer on how well people are walking the walk and talking the talk and allows us to zero in on areas where certain trends are emerging.

So please, if you haven’t yet done this year’s survey head over to www.vfbv.com.au/cfa and do it today. We want to hear from you. The only way you can help us influence the CFA of tomorrow, is by doing something about it today.

Stay safe.

 


Volunteer Survey Closing Soon

This year’s VFBV Volunteer Welfare and Efficiency Survey is closing soon. 

Scan the QR code or visit our website to complete the survey today.

This year’s survey is critically important. With a new CFA leadership, the results from this year’s survey will directly influence the upcoming years priority actions, and are central to our advocacy work with CFA about what needs to be done to improve the organisation. Our advocacy depends on robust volunteer feedback to help inform decision makers of the issues of most importance to you and our fellow volunteers.  

Be part of improving CFA and help us make a difference. 

 

Inviting applications for the CFA Board

VFBV is now seeking applications from any CFA volunteer interested in applying for any of the volunteer nominated positions on the CFA Board.

The terms of CFA Board Members Dawn Hartog, Kent Griffin, Beth Davidson and Peter Shaw due to expire in mid 2022. All four members are eligible for re-nomination, but will be required to reapply for nomination.

The CFA legislation recognises that it is important that the CFA Board has strong volunteer expertise, knowledge and an understanding of CFA volunteers.

To support this, CFA legislation provides for four of the CFA Board’s Members to be appointed from a panel of names submitted by Volunteer Fire Brigades Victoria, two being representatives from brigades predominantly serving urban communities and two being representatives from brigades predominantly serving rural communities.

CFA volunteers who believe they have the skills, experience and capacity to make a contribution to the Board of the CFA, are invited to apply. VFBV is seeking gender and culturally diverse candidates, in addition to a diverse range of skills and experience including applicants from diverse brigade type and classifications.

Please visit the VFBV website for further details. Applications close 1st February 2022.

 

Working with Children (Adverse Notice) Procedure Feedback

Members would recall, earlier in the year CFA engaged in consultation with VFBV over proposed changes to its working with children business rule and policies.

Following member feedback, VFBV provided comprehensive feedback to CFA that while supporting the majority of the proposed changes in principle – we did not support CFA’s proposed procedure to deal with adverse notices.

It was VFBV’s view (informed by your feedback) that the proposed procedure did not afford sufficient procedural fairness, did not provide robust privacy to members, and there was a lack of structure in the arrangements to ensure a consistent and robust approach across the State. It was our view the procedure could not be cured by just tweaking it and instead requested that CFA form a working party to allow us to work with CFA to co-design a more suitable process.

CFA agreed to that request, and a small working party was formed consisting of 6 VFBV nominees and 3 CFA nominees. This working party has worked diligently since April to co-design a robust procedure that they believe provides for the safety of children and young people, ensures privacy and confidentiality throughout the process and affords procedural fairness.

CFA is now requesting formal consultation on the revised procedure.

You will note that the revised policy only deals with volunteers. A very similar staff procedure is also currently being developed and consulted on, and we are advised the intent will be to ensure both operate effectively the same, but with subtle differences to account for the slightly different procedures required for each cohort. (For example, staff suspension or dismissal involves a different process etc.)

VFBV is now seeking members review the updated procedure (available on our website), and provide any further comment/feedback to Christine Fryer (This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.) by Monday 14th February 2022.

When providing feedback - we would also be keen to gauge support for the revised procedure, so please feel free to indicate support and/or concerns.

We thank you in advance for your assistance and look forward to your feedback.

 

Fire Wise – January 2022 online only edition

The January 2022 edition of Fire Wise has been published online only, this edition and past editions are available from the Fire Wise website.

You can support Fire Wise and the role it plays as an independent voice in keeping volunteers informed by becoming a subscriber. To become a Fire Wise subscriber visit the Fire Wise website or contact the Managing Editor of Fire Wise, Gordon Rippon-King either by phone 0402 051 412 or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. 

 

COVID-19 Updates

CFA has been operating a full COVID incident management team since the start of the pandemic. This IMT is led by the Chief Officer, and includes all the Deputy Chief Officers, senior members of the CFA Executive and key personnel from across the organisation including OH&S, Logistics, the State Agency Commander, and Comms etc. The Association is represented by the VFBV CEO who provides an association perspective as well as escalating any issues raised through the VFBV District Council Network.

The IMT meets between two to seven days per week depending on the circumstances and impacts of COVID-19 on CFA operations. The group receives daily updates from the Department of Health, and uses multiple data sources to monitor not only community transmission and vaccine levels but also internal data such as number of positive cases within CFA and any impacts on brigade capability or response.

Changes to CFA District COVID response levels are made by this group on the recommendation of the Deputy Chief Officer (Service Delivery) from each of the 5 regions. ACFO's are required to consult with Group Officers prior to a recommendation to raise or lower an individual District (or LGA) response level. If you are a group officer who is not routinely engaged by your District ACFO in discussions around your COVID response level, you are encouraged to raise this issue with your Deputy Chief Officer for your region in the first instance.

Response levels in some Districts are expected to be closely reviewed over coming weeks depending on the numbers of members isolating and community transmission trends. Fortunately, CFA's volunteer model provides robust surge capacity and an interconnected network of volunteer brigades that is designed specifically to deal with such scenario's and CFA response has not been adversely impacted throughout the entire pandemic.

Changes to COVID response levels is expected to impact co-located brigades, due to FRV locations being required to be treated similar to 'exposure sites' when an FRV crew member is diagnosed with COVID. This is due in part to their dormitory style model where crews are effectively 'living and sleeping' on station and considered similar to 'household' contacts under the revised close contact rules. Arrangements are being discussed to try and minimise the impacts of these occurrences on co-located brigades and members are thanked for their patience and understanding.

In further news, discussions have been underway for some time to secure rapid antigen tests for use within CFA. World wide impacts on supply and constrains within the logistics networks has made this more difficult, but limited supply is due as early as next week. Given the limited numbers available, and community demand for RAT's - procedures are being drafted to ensure an equitable and risk based approach to their use. This will assist maintain operational capacity and ensure RAT's are only used for exposure through CFA activities only.

Further details will be shared shortly. Members are encouraged to continue to practice COVID safe practices and monitor CFA updates for changes.

 

AdBlue Update

Members may be aware that there is a predicated global shortage of Urea (AdBlue) which is used in vehicles with modern diesel engines to be complaint with emission standards.

Members should be assured that this is expected to have minimal impact on CFA's operational capability, as all CFA emergency response vehicles operate under a general exemption granted for emergency services and have the torque limited (often referred to as limp mode) function disabled.

A recent audit of all operational vehicles has confirmed and verified that the majority of impacted vehicles have had this function disabled. However, in the case of a shortage of AdBlue, members need to be aware that a warning lamp within the vehicle instrument cluster will still be activated when the AdBlue level reaches a pre-determined level.

During the audit, it has been identified that a very small number of Scania cab chassis vehicles have not had the torque reduction properly disabled, and those brigades have been advised. These vehicles will be required to attend a service centre so Scania can complete the works, which will take less than an hour. All affected vehicles have been scheduled for service well before supply is expected to be impacted. VFBV delegates to the Joint Equipment and Infrastructure committee will be seeking a review of CFA's internal quality assurance process to ensure future vehicle handovers include verification that the torque limiting function has been completed prior to CFA accepting the vehicle from the manufacturer.

In the case of an AdBlue shortage, CFA has also secured an emergency supply of AdBlue which will be stored centrally and distributed if necessary as required to ensure emergency response capability is protected.

 

2022 State Championships

Entries are now open for the 2022 State Championships which will be held on consecutive weekends in March 2022 at Mooroopna. All team entries and judge and official registrations will close on Sunday 20th February 2022.

The Urban Junior State Championship will be held on the weekend of Saturday 19th and Sunday 20th March with the Rural Senior and Junior and Urban Senior Championships on the following weekend Saturday 26th and Sunday 27th March.

Similar to the 2021 State Championships, all entries and registrations will again be collected online, please visit the VFBV Website for links to enter your team or register as a judge or official for any of the Championships.

Updated Rule Books are also available from the VFBV Website for both the Urban and Rural Competitions along with a list of local competitions being conducted in 2022. The local competitions are also printed on page 12 of this months edition of Fire Wise.

Any Brigade or member needing assistance with the Team or Judge and Official registration process, please contact the VFBV office 9886 1141 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or CFA at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. 

 

Position Vacant

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.

The position is a state role, with emphasis and focus on providing support throughout CFA’s Northwest region (CFA Districts 2, 14, 18 and 20.)

This is an existing position, with the incumbent due to depart shortly.

In addition to relevant skills and experience, candidates will need to understand CFA and volunteerism, be good listeners; be able to facilitate good consultation; ability to establish productive networks; 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 work location within the CFA Northwest region.

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.

Prior to applying you should familiarise yourself with the Position Description which is available from the VFBV office or website.

Applications close Tuesday 8th February 2022

 

Update your status

CFA is requesting that all members please update their CFA record with their COVID-19 Vaccination status as soon as possible, as pre the Chief Health Officer’s directions.
 
ONLINE: www.members.cfa.vic.gov.au   

PHONE: (03) 9262 8663

 

Recent articles on the VFBV website

2022 State Championships – Entries Now Open

Inviting applications for the CFA Board

Now Open – 2021/2022 VFBV Volunteer Welfare & Efficiency Survey

Working with Children Adverse Notice Procedure

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year

Position Vacant – VFBV Support Officer (North West)

 

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Friday, 07 January 2022 13:10

Position Vacant – VFBV Support Officer (North West)

Written by

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.  

The position is a State role, with emphasis and focus on providing support throughout CFA’s North West region (CFA Districts 2, 14, 18 and 20).

This is an existing position, with the incumbent due to depart shortly.

In addition to relevant skills and experience, candidates will need to understand CFA and volunteerism, be good listeners; be able to facilitate good consultation; ability to establish productive networks; 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 work location within the CFA North West Region.

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.

Prior to applying you should familiarise yourself with the Position Description which is available from the VFBV office or for download at the bottom of this page.

 

How to apply

All applications must include:

  1. a current resume
  2. a cover letter addressing the key selection criteria outlined in the position description (including samples of previous written communications). 

 

Send applications to the attention of the CEO, VFBV, 9/24 Lakeside Drive, Burwood East 3151 or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. 

 

Applications close Tuesday 8th February 2022.

Any questions or queries re the application process should be directed to Cathie Smith from the VFBV Office on (03) 9886 1141 or via email at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. 

Any interested applicants to the VFBV Support Officer position, are also encouraged to speak to one of our existing VFBV Support Officers and/or State Councillor's who would be more than happy to give members a sense of the role.

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

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