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Friday, 10 October 2014 00:00

Joint Communications & Technology Committee - 2 Minute Briefing August 2014

Issue 10: August 2014

Quick snapshot of the priority issues and actions worked through at the most recent Joint Committee meeting between CFA and VFBV. (Meeting held Saturday 30/08/14)


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

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

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

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


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


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


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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.