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Monday, 14 September 2015 00:00

2 Minute Briefing - Joint Communications and Technology Committee

Issue 13: July 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 27/06/15)


Significant progress has been made with the selection of a Phase 2 Digital Listening set. CFA completed its Technical evaluation in early May, and advised the Listening Set Working Party that only one set successfully passed CFA’s technical requirements. That set was posted to all members of the Listening Set Working party on the 7th May for field testing. Detailed feedback was collected from each of the volunteers participating in the Listening Set Working party, and was received by CFA on the 27 May.

On the 12th June, CFA consolidated all individual working party feedback and evaluation comments, and provided a detailed User Feedback document to the working party for review. A finalised feedback document was provided and endorsed on the 23rd June, and provided to the supplier for discussion, along with recommended improvements. Overall, feedback from both the CFA Technical evaluation and the volunteer field trials was positive, with the majority of feedback indicating the selected unit either met expectations or was above expectations. The strongest criticism of the working party was, given the numerous and large range of options and abilities of the scanner, that the manufacturer be requested to provide a CFA default configuration out of the box – so members would not have to fully configure the device themselves. CFA has informed the working party that the manufacturer/supplier has agreed to provide a CFA configuration out of the box, including a CFA tailored user guide/tip sheet.

In early July, CFA informed VFBV that it had completed contract negotiations with the supplier, and was satisfied with the supplier’s responses to both the CFA technical evaluation findings and the working party findings.

As at the date of this update, CFA and VFBV are currently discussing the distribution process, with VFBV having submitted its preferred distribution model to CFA for consideration. The preferred model agreed to at June’s State Council meeting is a model that would provide every Brigade with an opportunity to purchase an equal guaranteed number of sets with a full subsidy cost, and then provide Brigades with a priority list for orders above what the subsidy program can provide, and to equally redistribute unwanted sets from those brigades that may choose not to take up their full allotment.

Full details of the subsidy program, unit costs and the distribution process is expected to be announced by CFA in the next two weeks, and a joint communique is currently being prepared that will explain the program and ordering process. The program is expected to be in full swing, well prior to this year’s fire season, and we will keep members apprised as we learn more. VFBV has offered to provide increased logistics and administrative support to offset the higher workload we believe is required to run the distribution program as equitably as possible, ensuring all brigades are provided fair and equal opportunity to avail themselves of the reduced cost units through the subsidy program, and ensure no brigades are disadvantaged by remoteness or access to electronic ordering systems.


The Committee has become aware of an increasing number of analogue channel deactivations, and expressed its frustration and disappointment to CFA that these were occurring, despite an agreement with CFA that it would not decommission analogue services until analogue listening sets had been replaced.

CFA representatives explained that the analogue services being decommissioned where operationally required in order to provide increased digital capacity in the network, and was not being done prior to District Operations Managers signally their approval.

Committee members were advised that it was the OM’s responsibility to conduct local consultation prior to providing their approval of the deactivations. Members are therefore advised that should you have concerns with analogue channels being decommissioned prior to listening sets being replaced, you should proactively discuss those concerns with your OM so they are aware of your concerns prior to approving the channel deactivation.

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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.