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Monday, 18 May 2015 00:00

Joint Communications & Technology Committee - 2 Minute Briefing

Issue 12: April 2015

A quick snapshot of the priority issues and actions worked through at the most recent Joint Committee meeting between CFA and VFBV. (Meeting held 11/04/15)


The Committee requested a report on the status of the project to introduce new listening sets. CFA advised that two proposed models are currently being technically assessed by CFA prior to issue to the nominated volunteer delegates for field testing and final evaluation. This project has been delayed several times and the committee expressed its frustrations with the delays and reinforced their desire for new listening sets to be available well in time for the 2015/16 fire season. Concerned by any further delays, delegates recommended to CFA that the two listening sets identified for testing be issued immediately to the volunteer reps for field testing; whilst CFA technical testing continues at the same time. This would speed up the process and ensure that the appropriate listening set is identified and purchasing arrangements put in place by June 2015. The committee will continue to monitor.


CFA reported that the Regional Radio Dispatch project is running ahead of schedule, and thanked all CFA volunteers for their excellent support in making brigade radios available for the latest re-flash. The recent opening of District 27 required the creation of talk group 527 and fireground channels for the new District, as part of the Regional Radio Despatch project. This re-flash is adding the software required for future resource tracking and short status messaging functions. CFA advised that the latest re-flash will be finished by September.


The committee was provided with the first CFA Observation report analysis. This new report will allow the committee to monitor outstanding observation reports, and provide greater accountability to CFA and ESTA in ensuring they are actioned and responded to. This new process, and the information contained in the report also highlighted the importance of Observation Reports as one key way for volunteers to improve the quality of CFA incident records. The committee delegates welcomed the analysis but have requested further details behind some of the reported figures so that causes and solutions may be identified.

Whilst VFBV has had reports from some Brigades that they no longer complete Observation Reports due to the perception that “nothing ever happens with them”, VFBV strongly encourages all brigades to continue to submit Observation Reports, especially now the committee can monitor their progress and resolution. Whilst some brigades may question the value in providing an Observation Report – they provide important and valuable information into CFA that can only improve the service provided by ESTA to brigades. It is hoped the report process now in place through the Joint Committee will ensure that Observation reports are investigated and actioned more swiftly in the future.


The committee discussed the ongoing issue with the current CFA pagers. In some cases – reports have been received of members returning their pagers to District and relying on third party notification providers via smart phones. These providers are not officially supported by the agencies and can remove their service at any time – therefore they are not a safe way of receiving an alert, even if their coverage or feature set is superior to the current CFA pager.

VFBV continues to advocate for the need to urgently address designs and feature sets of the next generation pagers, with the current pager contract due to expire next year. The Committee has suggested that a workshop be held with Emergency Management Victoria to investigate future pager options.

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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.