16April2024

You are here: Home Library Newsletters 2-Minute Briefings Adam Barnett

The 2024 State Urban Junior Championship will be held this coming Saturday and Sunday, 16 and 17 March 2024 in Mooroopna. This year will be the 50th time the State Urban Junior Championship has been held.

Come along and see tomorrow’s CFA volunteers proudly demonstrate their skills.

If you are not involved with the CFA juniors program or haven’t witnessed the value the State Urban Junior Championship provides for young volunteers to develop practical skills and to be actively involved in CFA, then get along and be inspired.

Urban junior competitions have a proud 51 year history. This year 38 teams from CFA brigades from across Victoria will compete over the weekend.  

The 2024 Championship is being held at the Mooroopna Recreation Reserve, Midland Hwy, Mooroopna and events will begin at 8:30am each morning.

Results from the Championship will be progressively posted over the weekend on VFBV’s dedicated Championships Facebook Page

Teams competing in the 2024 State Urban Junior Championship are:

Ararat
Colac
Diamond Creek
Echuca A
Echuca B
Echuca/Mildura
Euroa A
Euroa B
Eynesbury
Frankston
Gisborne
Grovedale
Hamilton
Hoppers Crossing
Horsham
Kangaroo Flat
Kyneton
Maffra
Melton A
Melton B
Melton C
Red Cliffs A
Red Cliffs B
Rowville A
Rowville B
Sale
Seymour
Stawell
Swan Hill A
Swan Hill B
Upwey A
Upwey B
Wangaratta
Warracknabeal A
Warracknabeal B
Wendouree
Werribee A
Werribee B

Information for brigades competing this weekend can be downloaded from this page

Next weekend 23rd and 24th March will see the State Urban Senior Championship along with the State Rural Senior and Junior Championships take place at the Mooroopna Recreation Reserve also. With the popular Torchlight Procession to be held on Saturday 23rd March in Mooroopna. 

“If everyone did” is the theme for International Volunteer Day in 2023.

International Volunteer Day is celebrated each year on 5 December as a day to acknowledge volunteers and the spirit of volunteerism. The day was established by the United Nations General Assembly in 1985, and mandated as an international observance to be celebrated each year on the 5th December.  

This year the theme “If everyone did” is a way to recognise the power of collective action. If everyone volunteered the world would be a better place. 

We can see each and every day the benefits provided by CFA volunteers going above and beyond to ensure that their local communities and communities right across Victoria and Australia are safe and protected from fire and other emergencies.

Only recently were we again reminded of the strong camaraderie between fire services with CFA volunteers giving up their time to travel interstate on strike teams to protect communities in Queensland.

It’s not just those who serve on the frontline as firefighters who make CFA a better place, it’s also the members who take on other roles such as community safety, administration, fire equipment maintenance or even just ensuring that the trucks are washed and restowed for the next call out. It is also a day to recognise those who take on additional roles with VFBV, such as Brigade or Group Delegate, District Council Executive, State Councillor or as a representative on working parties and VFBV/CFA Joint Committees to ensure that volunteers are represented, and their voice is heard.

The 3V’s project conservatively estimated that emergency management volunteers contribute between $1.9 and $2.5 billion to Victoria each and every year.

VFBV CEO Adam Barnett thanked all CFA volunteers for setting an example and demonstrating how the impact of what can be achieved if everyone volunteered.

“The contribution of CFA’s 55,000 volunteers along with other emergency service volunteers in Victoria cannot be underestimated.”

“Victoria’s volunteer surge capacity provided by CFA volunteers demonstrates the great power and what can be achieved by everyone lending a hand.”

“CFA’s volunteers show up each and every day with their expertise and experience in often very testing situations. We are proud of all out volunteers and acknowledge the incredible work they do every day in keeping their communities safe and building community resilience for a safer Victoria.” Mr Barnett said.


 

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, businesses and the public. Our vision is for Strong Volunteerism, Embraced to Build Community Resilience for a Safer Victoria.

The Minister for Emergency Services the Hon Jaclyn Symes recently announced the successful projects for the Volunteer Emergency Services Equipment Program (VESEP) 2023/24.

VFBV would like to congratulate the 143 brigades and groups that have been successful in this round of VESEP, a list of the successful projects can be downloaded from the bottom of this page. 

VESEP provides grants of $2 for every $1 of Brigade or Group funding to assist brigades and groups in acquiring a wide range of additional equipment in recognition of the significant contribution emergency service volunteers provide in supporting Victorian communities.

VESEP grants help fund much needed new and upgrades to operational equipment, vehicles and appliances and minor facility improvements for brigades and groups in every district across the state.

To any brigade or group who was unsuccessful in this year’s allocation, it is recommended you contact your District office to ascertain what improvements could be made to your application for the next round of grants.

Once again congratulations to all the successful brigades and groups.

VFBV are seeking expressions of interest from members to be Joint Committee District Nominees for the 2023 VFBV/CFA Joint Committees. 

Interested volunteers are encouraged to submit your expression of interest to your local District Council for endorsement by 21st November 2022.

VFBV/CFA Joint Committees are a critical part of the consultative framework, offering a direct line of communication between volunteers and the state-level decision makers within the CFA.

If you feel you have a passion for one of the eight committees and have the time to contribute please contact your local District Council or local VFBV Support Officer to submit your nomination (nomination form available for download at the bottom of the page).  In particular, VFBV is seeking greater diversity across our structures and highly encourages nominations across the entire broad and diverse membership.

Following a refresh, the eight Joint Committees are:

Community Safety Enhancing services for brigades to improve community preparedness, recovery, and resilience in the prevention of fires.
Equipment and Infrastructure Working closely with the infrastructure services and fleet management team at CFA to improve equipment, stations, and appliances.
Member Services 
(formerly Volunteerism)
Consultation with CFA to improve volunteer recruitment, retention, youth, cadets, events, championships and fundraising.
Operational Capability (new) Building brigade/group capability, addressing gaps in service delivery, personal protective clothing and equipment and specialist response.
Operational Performance 
(formerly Operations)
Policy, doctrine and standards to ensure continuous improvement including service delivery standards, safe operating procedures and lessons learned.
People, Culture and Safety 
(formerly HR, Welfare and OH&S)
Improving the welfare and safety of members by improving HR and welfare services and ensuring CFA is a safe place to volunteer.
Technology and Innovation 
(formerly Communications and Technology)
Working to improve member access to the best innovations in equipment, communication and technology, mapping and communications.
Training  Continuous review and improvement to course design, delivery and access to volunteer training and training equipment.

As committees need to be of a reasonable size district nominees are appointed to the committees via an expression of interest process and are approved annually by State Council.

The Joint Committee structure allows for selected district nominees to join State Councillors to be a part of planning for the future, developing strategies and raising issues that have been raised by the wider VFBV membership across all Districts. 

District Councils are asked to seek expressions of interest from members who wish to participate in the Joint Committees and discuss with them a few key considerations:

  • A requirement to attend a minimum of four (4) meetings per year at CFA HQ in Burwood (or virtually as required), usually held on a Saturday or Sunday.  (2023 proposed meeting schedule below)
  • Relevant subject matter expertise and the ability to actively contribute to the Committees work with a State-wide view of issues.
  • A network outside their own brigade which will allow them to communicate views that are not just their own
  • Willingness to report back to District Council and engage with members 

 

District Council Endorsement Process

District Council Executives have been requested to review all district nominations and provide a recommendation and priority order prior to submission to the VFBV Executive Officer.

District Councils have been encouraged to have nominations returned to them by Monday 21st November 2022, to allow time for the District Council prioritisation process prior to submission to the VFBV Executive Officer by Monday 28th November 2022.

With District Councils encouraged to wait until all nominations are received before ranking nominations in priority order and submitting all nominations in one batch to the VFBV Executive Officer.

All nominees must be endorsed by their local VFBV District Council.

 

Questions?

Contact your local VFBV Support Officer or State Councillors to find out more about the VFBV/CFA Joint Committees.

 

Proposed 2023 Joint Committee Meeting Dates

(These have not yet been endorsed, and are subject to change with specific committee meeting dates to be allocated)

Round One Meetings Saturday 25 February 2023
Sunday 26 February 2023
Saturday 1 April 2023
Sunday 2 April 2023
Round Two Meetings Saturday 24 June 2023
Sunday 25 June 2023
Saturday 1 July 2023
Sunday 2 July 2023
Round Three Meetings Saturday 26 August 2023
Sunday 27 August 2023
Saturday 9 August 2023
Sunday 10 August 2023
Round Four Meetings Saturday 18 November 2023
Sunday 19 November 2023
Saturday 25 November 2023
Sunday 26 November 2023

The CFA Chief Officer has commenced consultation on reviewing the Chief Officer’s minimum requirements for operational response. VFBV welcomes this opportunity, as the minimum requirements have elicited wide ranging volunteer feedback over the years.

In particular, the Chief has invited VFBV to make submission on the ongoing application of the Chief Officer’s minimum requirements to participate in fire ground operations which are currently:

  • General Firefighter (or minimum skills for those who pre-date GFF)
  • the annual entrapment drill (SOP 9.32)
  • the three yearly tree hazard awareness certification.

Part of this review will also explore whether brigade classification should influence the minimum requirements or their frequency, as well as whether the annual requirements need to be face-to-face or whether remote learning or demonstration be acceptable.

VFBV is seeking brigade, group and individual feedback from all interested volunteers.

The VFBV CEO has also invited District Councils to make submission on behalf of their Districts and have been requested to include discussion on this topic at future District Council meetings.

Volunteers are encouraged to attend these discussions in order to hear the perspectives of those in your local district.

If you would like to make your own submission, VFBV is happy to accept any submissions from individual volunteers, or brigades and groups as a whole. Submissions can be made in writing by sending feedback/comments to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

We have also developed an online survey for those who may not want to make a detailed submission. The survey can be accessed from: https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/COMinRequire

For brigades, groups or District Councils who might prefer to walk through the questions during a meeting, or use the questions as prompts for their own written submission, the questions used in the online survey are included below.

Responses are due no later than Monday 12th September, in order to allow VFBV State Council an opportunity to form a VFBV position at their September meeting.

 


Survey Questions

  1. At a high level, do you support the ongoing application of the Chief Officer’s minimum requirements for operational response, which are currently General Firefighter (or minimum skills for those who predate GFF); Annual entrapment drill (SOP 9.32) and tree hazard awareness (3 year certification)?
    Yes
    No
    Unsure
    With modification (what modifications would you suggest?)

  2. What are your thoughts on the requirement to conduct an annual entrapment drill?
    I Support the current annual requirement
    I think it should only need to be done every 2 years
    I think it should only need to be done every 3 years
    I think it should only need to be done every 5 years
    I think it should never have to be repeated
    Other – please specify

  3. What are your thoughts on the requirement to undergo the online Tree Hazard Awareness Package?
    I support the current requirement to do it every 3 years
    I think it should be done every year
    I think it should be done every 5 years
    I think it should never need to be repeated
    Other – please specify

  4. Should the requirements and frequency vary depending on the classification of the brigade? (e.g. could smaller quieter Class 1 brigades have the flexibility to conduct them less often for example?)
    Yes – requirements and/or frequency should be varied based on their operational activity
    No – the requirements should be the same for all brigades regardless of their operational activity

  5. Would you support an option for the entrapment drill refresher to be conducted via an online package similar to the tree hazards awareness package?
    Yes
    No
    Other – please specify

  6. Could there be any improvements or added flexibility that would assist you to undertake the minimum requirements and their refreshers?

  7. Are there any other matters associated with the Chief Officer’s minimum requirements that you would like to raise?

  8. Are there any final comments you would like to make?

International Firefighters’ Day (IFFD) is observed each year on the 4th May. This is also St Florian's Day, who is the patron saint of firefighters.

St. Florian is the Patron Saint of Firefighters and was an officer of the Roman army who was responsible for organising and leading firefighting brigades tasked to fight fires when Rome needed to protect itself against fire being used as an offensive weapon in the third century.

On St. Florian’s Day, firefighters, families and communities across the world take a moment to acknowledge firefighters commitment and dedication to their communities and their selfless duty to protecting lives and property.

Each year, CFA and VFBV come together to honour our fallen firefighters through the annual memorial service which is each year commemorated on the Sunday closest to May 4th. By proudly wearing and displaying blue and red ribbons pinned together or by participating in a memorial or recognition event, we show our gratitude and respect to firefighters and their families everywhere. The blue and red ribbons are linked to colours symbolic of the main elements firefighters work with – red for fire and blue for water.

This years service was held on Sunday 1 May at Federation University’s Churchill Campus in Gippsland and marked 40 years since the loss of Churchill firefighter Darren McLean. The 2022 Annual Memorial Service is available to view on CFA’s website for those who were unable to attend the service in person. https://news.cfa.vic.gov.au/news/cfa-remembers-fallen-members-at-state-memorial-event 

The Annual Memorial Service is a formal and reflective day to acknowledge and remember those that have made the ultimate sacrifice on behalf of their communities. It’s a time for reflection and just one of the ways we can remember the lives of 69 CFA members and 11 Country Fire Brigades Board firefighters (prior to the formation of CFA), who have paid the ultimate sacrifice and given their lives in service to protecting our communities. The full Role of Honour can be found on CFA’s website. https://www.cfa.vic.gov.au/about-us/who-we-are/history/roll-of-honour 

This year we also recognise the loss of Louise Hincks a volunteer firefighter from South Australia’s  Country Fire Service who lost her life in January while fighting a blaze near Lucindale. VFBV on behalf of all Victorian firefighters extends its deepest sympathies to Louise’s family, friends, brigade, peers and loved ones.

VFBV CEO, Adam Barnett spoke of the importance of the annual memorial service for not only the families, friends and loved once of the fallen, but for all CFA members.

“The annual memorial and St Florian’s Day is a time for us to come together and remember the 80 CFA firefighters who have selflessly given their lives to protect the lives of other Victorians.”

“While we pay tribute to those lost while protecting our communities, it is also a day to reflect on the importance of the work that CFA volunteers do on a daily basis to make Victorian communities safer.”

The 2023 Annual Memorial Service will be held on Sunday 7th May and will acknowledge and reflect on the 40th anniversary of the Ash Wednesday fires. Further details will be provided closer to the date.

 

 

On Sunday 8 March 2020, the world celebrated International Women’s Day. This year the CFA wanted to pay tribute to women involved in the organisation, inspired by women and inspiring others.

With this year’s theme ‘An equal world is an enabled world’ we sat down with one of our Board Members and volunteer Dawn Hartog.

From her earliest days at university studying education, the Captain of Toolangi Fire Brigade Dawn Hartog knew she wanted to be on the ground, working with communities. She didn’t want to just be desk-bound. 

Then, in the way of all things, on the ski slopes in America, she met an Aussie bloke and found herself at CFA as a Community Development Coordinator. 

Today she is a member of the CFA Board, works full time for DELWP, as well as working at the State Control Centre during incidents and emergencies, on CFA’s District 12 Planning Committee and captaining her home CFA brigade at Toolangi.

“I’ve been so lucky to work on tangible examples, to see the principles of emergency information and fire safety communicated better through our communities. It has been hugely gratifying to work in a career I love, that provides job satisfaction whilst doing my part to keep our communities safe, to keep our beautiful Victoria safe,” Captain Hartog said.

"I’ve been inspired along the way by so many of the women I’ve worked with, that have empowered, mentored and shaped who I am, and the way I now support my (contemporary) peers.”

As a former resident of Kinglake, Captain Hartog’s toughest challenges, and most inspiring moments, came during Black Saturday as the coordinator of a group of residents through their community fireguard group.

“Everyone put into action what we had learned, from the lead up, to the support after. It brought home several ground truths for me. We were very lucky to come out of it with no significant losses. I attribute this to the bonding together, the camaraderie we had, the knowledge that we had each other’s backs. I felt a deep sense of responsibility for everyone’s safety.”

During this summer, Captain Hartog’s own brigade, Toolangi, was lucky not to have any fires close to home. So, they went to help New South Wales and north-east Victoria instead.

“We were proud to support the efforts during those prolonged fires. To be deployed and be part of the fires - whether through the State Control Centre or rotation through the ranks - to be part of the fight, with boots on the ground meant a lot.”

The style of leadership that most inspires Captain Hartog is one that empowers strong women into leadership positions. Last year she was elected onto the CFA Board for the first time.

“I am so proud to be on the Board of an organisation I have previously worked many years for, and an organisation that I love. I’m proud to join some pretty incredible women on the Board. I have always drawn my strength and inspiration from my peers. They shape and inspire me on a daily basis,” she says.

“On the ground, I actually wish that I joined a brigade 10 years before I finally did. Toolangi Fire Brigade is an amazing group of people. The camaraderie is uplifting. People roll out the door as a team, we know our lives are in each other’s hands. All of us are simply there to try and do our best.”

What Captain Hartog loves most about her brigade is it is a true microcosm of her community. Many junior members, both male and female, go on to have careers or volunteer in fire management. Several of the members and office holders of the brigade are mums.  A few of these ladies joined as a result of their children. Now she’s hoping her own next generation - her daughter - will be inspired to join the CFA.

“It’s not mandatory or completely expected obviously… but I do hope so!”

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.

 

When CFA volunteer firefighters Kellie Clarkson and Jodie Harris joined Diamond Creek Fire Brigade, they were not sure what to expect.

Now, they reflect on how much they have grown personally through firefighting and have loved the support of their ‘second family’ at the brigade.

Kellie has been a volunteer with Diamond Creek for just over four years. Her interest in firefighting initially came from her firefighting family, with her Dad the captain of Diamond Creek and her brother a career firefighter with Fire Rescue Victoria.

Kelly says being in CFA has given her opportunities in her career and life that she had not expected when she joined.

“I was quite shy before joining CFA; I didn’t really talk to anyone in the brigade at first or have a lot of confidence, but since it has really brought me out of my shell.”

More than just personal development, CFA has also given Kelly career choices through the training with CFA.

“The training I’ve done to be a firefighter enabled me to teach Certificate II Public Safety in my previous job. Something that never I would have been able to do without the knowledge I’ve gained through volunteering,” she said.

“I’m constantly surprised by how much you actually learn through being a firefighter.”

Kellie loves that her brigade has quite a few female role models but acknowledges gender has never gotten in the way of being a firefighter.

“When we are on the fireground everyone is equal, there’s no one carrying a hose for me. We all have jobs to do.”

Jodie Harris volunteers alongside Kellie at Diamond Creek and like Kellie loves how it has helped her grow as a person.

“I joined in 2015 as a Junior after walking by one day. I thought it would be a new challenge for me to take on and see where it would take me.”

“One year later, I transitioned to being a Senior Firefighter and now five years on I love seeing how much confidence I have now, it really has pushed me out of my comfort zone and I’ve done things I never thought I would.”

Jodie said the real reward is helping the community and the connection she has to the brigade now.

“I love Diamond Creek – it is a second family! We all share the same values when it comes to helping the community and we all work together really well.

“If there’s one thing I can say to anyone thinking about joining CFA it is to give it a go. It’s really rewarding – from the training to the social aspect, it’s an awesome community to be a part of.”

Pictured Jodie Harris (left) and Kellie Clarkson (right)

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.

 

The update below was issued by CFA's Pandemic Management Team, 8 July 2020 and is reproduced here in full. 


Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews has announced that Stage 3 “Stay at Home” restrictions will be reinstated across Metropolitan Melbourne and Mitchell Shire from 11.59pm tonight, Wednesday 8 July. Read the Premier’s statement

This means that for anyone living in Metropolitan Melbourne and Mitchell Shire there will only be four reasons to be out from 11.59pm tonight: shopping for essential food and supplies, care and caregiving, exercise, and study or work – if it can’t be done from home. View a full summary of the restrictions

To limit the spread of the virus into regional areas, the Premier further announced that there will only be three reasons to cross into these regional areas: shopping for food and essential items, care and caregiving and work and study if it can’t be done from home.

This direction will initially be in place for six weeks. 

There are no changes to restrictions in regional Victoria for now as case numbers are low.

A map of the Stage 3 restriction boundary is available below or you can view and download the map here.


Brigades within the identified boundary must return to operational response only

No skills maintenance training can be undertaken by brigades operating within the identified boundary until the Stage 3 stay at home direction is lifted. View a list of brigades impacted by the restrictions.

Members should continue to take all necessary precautions when responding to incidents including temperature checks and enhanced hygiene measures, as outlined in our Guidance Notes

Brigades needing additional support are encouraged to contact their local Catchment Team or District Office to access relevant advice or resources.

All brigades not included in the Stage 3 stay at home direction (outside of Metropolitan Melbourne and Mitchell Shire) can continue to undertake skills maintenance training in line with our training principles and Guidance Note 12.  

All members, particularly those providing EMR, are reminded to manage their exposure to potential coronavirus cases by practising physical distancing where possible and utilising personal protective equipment in line with Guidance Note 9.


NSW/Victoria border closure

An Incident Control Centre is being established in Wodonga to support the management of the border closure across agencies. We are also working with districts bordering NSW to ensure the right processes are in place to support members so operational response remains sustainable.


Wellbeing support is available 24 hours and day, seven days a week

We are all experiencing such rapid and ongoing change in our work and personal lives. If you need support, our Wellbeing team is here to help. 

Our Wellbeing Support Line is available any time, day or night to all members and their families. A range of tip sheets as well as a new wellbeing webinar series are also available via our intranet to support you during this time of change and uncertainty.  

Remember it’s ok to not feel ok - please reach out if you need support.


School holidays have been extended for some students

The Premier has announced an extension of the Victorian school holidays for one week for all students in Metropolitan Melbourne and Mitchell Shire except those who attend specialist schools and those in Year 10 doing VCE Studies and those in Years 11 and 12.  


Staff who can work from home must work from home

All staff members should now be working remotely unless they have essential work that requires them to be at a CFA location. Staff who need to travel as part of their role should limit their movement in and out of Metropolitan Melbourne and Mitchell Shire and utilise tele and/or video conferencing where practical. 


Testing for coronavirus

A targeted coronavirus (COVID-19) testing program is underway and will run until the end of August. More than 130 testing sites are now available across Victoria. If you have symptoms, however mild, it’s important to get tested. View more information and map of testing facilities

We will continue to keep you updated as the situation changes.

I encourage you to visit the Department of Health and Human Services website and our Coronavirus (COVID-19) intranet page to keep up to date. 

Anthony Ramsay
Pandemic Management Team Lead 


Area impacted by Stage 3 restrictions

VFBV was saddened to learn of the death of Bill Slade who died near Omeo on 12 January. Bill was a Forest Fire Management Victorian firefighter and a Parks Victoria employee.

Bill had been a firefighter for over 40 years and was on active duty was part of a taskforce working in the vicinity of Anglers Rest near Omeo when he was struck by a tree.

Our thoughts and deepest condolences are with Bill’s wife and two children, loved ones and colleagues at this time.

On behalf of VFBV, CFA volunteers and all members we express our heartfelt sorrow and pass on our thoughts and prayers. We are mourning this loss alongside Forest Fire Management Victoria and Parks Victoria firefighter brethren at this very sad time.

With hundreds of firefighters still battling out of control blazes across the country and with such a long season ahead of us, our thoughts are with all crews and their safety.

 

Adam Barnett, Chief Executive Officer
Volunteer Fire Brigades Victoria

 

 

 

CFA WELLBEING SUPPORT LINE

1800 959 232

Providing CFA members and their immediate family access to 24 hour support 7 days a week.

Psychologists – Counsellors – Peer Support - Chaplains

 

In heartbreaking news received overnight from south west Sydney, we are deeply saddened to learn of the in the line of duty deaths of two NSW Rural Fire Service volunteers. Our hearts go out to the family, loved ones and fellow brigade members of Deputy Captain Geoffrey Keaton and Firefighter Andrew O’Dwyer, both from Horsley Park Fire Brigade.  These members were bravely defending their communities and their sacrifice and service will be forever remembered.

Our thoughts are also with the three other firefighters who were also injured in the accident and are being treated for their injuries, as well as the eight other firefighters injured during other indents during the day and are being treated for burns. We pass on our thanks and gratitude to our fellow emergency service workers involved and assisting members at the scene.

Our peers and colleagues in NSW are understandably devastated, and we offer our heartfelt condolences at this sad time. I echo the words of CFA Chief Officer Steve Warrington in that CFA crews have been honoured to fight alongside the RFS these past few months and our deepest sympathies go out to the family, friends and colleagues of these two members.

On behalf of VFBV, CFA volunteers and all members we express our deepest sorrow and pass on our heartfelt thoughts and prayers. We mourn alongside our NSW firefighter brethren for this devastating loss.

 

Adam Barnett, Chief Executive Officer
Volunteer Fire Brigades Victoria

International Volunteer Day (IVD) is held annually on 5 December to raise awareness on the important role volunteers play in responding to challenges facing the world.

IVD is mandated by the United Nations General Assembly and is viewed as a unique chance for volunteers and organisations to celebrate their efforts, to share their values, and to promote their work among their communities, non-governmental organisations (NGOs), United Nations agencies, government authorities and the private sector.

The theme for IVD 2019 is “Volunteer for an inclusive future”. Volunteering frequently provides opportunities for people, particularly those often excluded to concretely impact their own lives and play a role in their communities by volunteering their time and skills. Through volunteerism, communities often experience strengthened solidarity and inclusion.

The strength of volunteers in protecting their communities is especially evident in the number of CFA volunteers who have given up their time in recent weeks to be a part of strike teams in New South Wales and Queensland and those who have contributed to CFA’s surge capacity in other ways while remaining at home. To read VFBV CEO Adam Barnett’s article on CFA Surge Capacity from the VFBV November 2019 newsletter click here.

If you know a CFA volunteer who has strengthened their community through volunteering, consider nominating them for a Spirit of CFA Award, applications close on 3 January 2020. More information about the Spirit of CFA Awards can be found here.

More stories promoting the value of CFA volunteers and the contributions they make to their local communities:

Huntly CFA volunteers light up the town with safety messages
Young Boort CFA volunteer jumps from school into the fire zone
Stawell parents tag team to ease NSW fire threat
Victorian volunteers step in to stop fire spreading in NSW
Rushworth volunteers return for second stint to ease NSW and Qld fire threat 
Werribee CFA volunteer says protecting the community is number one priority
Flowerdale CFA volunteers return favour to help NSW
South-east Victorian CFA volunteers help ease NSW and Qld fire threat
Commendation for long-serving Bunyip CFA volunteer
Alexandra volunteer recognised for dedicated service

Huntly CFA volunteers are shining a light on fire safety with a new initiative to grab the attention of passing motorists on the Midland Highway.

The brigade has erected a large electronic LED sign on the front of the fire station to provide community safety messages and information.

The 3-metre long by 0.5-metre wide sign will feature advisory messages like fire restriction periods or Total Fire Ban days, and special alerts if there is a fire in the area.

Brigade member and former captain Alan Roberts said the LED sign would help the brigade to better communicate with the community.

“Like lots of brigades we have a sandwich board sign that we put out on Total Fire Ban days, but that’s a pretty basic way of communicating a single message,” Mr Roberts said.

The brigade investigated a range of options, such as vinyl signs that could attach to the fence, but decided an LED sign would be the most effective and flexible option.

“I had driven through Nhill which has a smaller LED sign at the front of their fire station and it struck me that a sign where you could have a series of programmable messages and the ability to create specific messages was a much better idea than vinyl signs that would wear out,” Mr Roberts said.

“It’s one of only a few such signs we know of in District 2,” Mr Roberts said.

The brigade obtained permits from the CFA, VicRoads and City of Greater Bendigo for the $6000 sign, which was funded through brigade fund-raising and a grant from the Bendigo Northern District Community Enterprise.

About 15,000 cars drive past the Huntly Fire Station on the Midland Highway every day.

Volunteer Fire Brigades Victoria (VFBV) CEO Adam Barnett said the sign was a great example of volunteers taking the initiative to improve community safety.

“This shows how volunteers put community safety at the forefront of everything they do,” Mr Barnett said.

John Beavis is soon going to need a bigger loungeroom wall.

Mr Beavis, 83, has to find space for his latest Commendation for Service as a CFA volunteer for more than 60 years, but his display of certificates is already looking a bit clogged.

The new framed certificate will hang alongside life memberships for Bunyip fire Brigade, Flinders Urban Fire Brigades Association, East Central Zone Fire Brigades Association, Combined Gippsland Fire Brigades Association, No. 8 Fire Control Regional Council, and Drouin-Bunyip Competition Team.

He also has long service certificates from the Eastern Districts Fire Brigades Association, as president of Regional Council 8 from 1986-88, CFA certificate of Appreciation for 30 years’ service and Victorian Urban Fire Brigades Association, the forerunner to Volunteer Fire Brigades Victoria (VFBV), in appreciation for service as an official at competitions.

Then there’s his Australia Day citizen of the year nomination, and certificates of thanks for supporting the Good Friday appeal and Hillview Bunyip Aged Care, where he has instructed staff on the use of portable fire extinguishers for more than 20 years.

“They’re all on my loungeroom wall. Some are up a bit high to see,” he said. “You don’t go out of your way to look for recognition or awards, but if they come along you appreciate them.”

The latest commendation stands as one of his most memorable. “It blew me away,” Mr Beavis said. “I had my youngest daughter with me and then when I looked up my other two daughters walked in. It was very much appreciated.”

Mr Beavis, 83, officially joined Dromana brigade in 1956

“For a few years before that my Dad was in the brigade and the alarm would go off and I’d tag along,” he said.

After five years at Dromana, Mr Beavis moved to Bunyip for a work promotion and joined the local brigade a few years later when there was a major fire.

“It’s something I’ve always enjoyed for the comradeship and in giving something back to your community,” he said. “Volunteering is an integral part of the community, not only in CFA but in a lot of other organisations as well.”

Although he no longer turns out for emergencies, Mr Beavis is still involved as a competition official and in community safety.

“I enjoy that side of it, especially meeting people from other brigades,” he said.

Mr Beavis was brigade secretary for 30 years and treasurer for a number of years, and brigade delegate to several associations.

VFBV CEO Adam Barnett said Mr Beavis typified the volunteering spirit of regional Victorians.

“Volunteers like John play a huge role in the community, not only in protecting people and assets close to home and far afield as volunteer firefighters, but in advocating for community safety and helping behind the scenes,” Mr Barrett said.

Learn more about CFA’s world-respected surge capacity on the VFBV website.

Volunteer firefighter Alex Caughey won’t let anything get in the way of his contribution to community safety.

Volunteer Fire Brigades Victoria (VFBV) recently presented a plaque to Mr Caughey recognising nearly 30 years of service as District 12 secretary for the VFBV and its urban and rural predecessors

At 69, Mr Caughey has stopped turning out to fires due to his battle with Parkinson’s Disease, but he’s determined to continue making a mark on community safety.

“I no longer turn-out to incidents but I’m a long way from finished with the CFA and VFBV,” he said. “Parkinson’s disease has put the brakes on things but I do a bit with the Fire Equipment Maintenance team and just completed my St Johns refresher and the two fire safety units.”

Mr Caughey joined the Eildon CFA in 1991 after moving from Melbourne to take up a job with Victorian Fisheries.

“When we moved here, we made a decision to become involved with a community service; my wife got involved with local groups and I joined the CFA, encouraged by brigade lieutenant Bruce Luckman,” he said.

During his time with the Eildon brigade Mr Caughey was involved with developing a fundraising strategy to purchase a small tanker, was part of a working party which designed and built a purpose-built staging area trailer which is still in service, and worked as a volunteer trainer and assessor across Districts 12 and 22.

Mr Caughey soon became District 12 secretary for the Victorian Urban Fire Brigades Association (VUFBA), the VFBV predecessor, and stayed in the role until the most recent election. He also took on secretarial duties for his brigades.

With the Alexandra brigade he was involved with campaign fires and multi-agency task forces. “Alexandra was a large, relatively accessible brigade and was often the launching point for busloads of firefighters and brigade members gained new skills in operational support. A new expression crept into our vocabulary “surge capacity’ and Mr Caughey became a strike team leader across Victoria and interstate.

He has also taken on the task of consolidating and documenting the brigade’s history. “I’m determined to continue contributing to community safety,” he added.

He has been a member of CFA and VFBV’s Community Safety Advisory Committee for a number of years.

In the late 1990s Mr Caughey joined CFA as a Community Education Coordinator. “The CFA was just getting into the serious business of talking to the community and I was there right at the beginning,” he said.

“It’s an incredibly important role in reaching out and encouraging people and communities to step up and take responsibility for themselves and to be prepared.”

He has been a member of CFA and VFBV’s Community Safety Advisory Committee for a number of years and is the brigade’s community engagement officer. “The brigade takes this role seriously and has raised its community profile,” he said. “A couple of weeks ago we were visiting a caravan park with 20-plus permanent residents to have a sausage sizzle and talk caravan safety.

Mr Caughey remains committed to the VFBV and volunteering. “It gets in your blood and becomes an important part of your life. The VFBV is an essential organisation,” he said. “It has played an incredibly important role in making things happen in the CFA and acting on things for volunteers and also in terms of community safety.

“Everyone needs to do something that makes a difference.”

VFBV CEO Adam Barnett said Mr Caughey’s commitment typified the community spirit of regional Victorians.

“Volunteers like Alex make a huge difference in the community and in brigades,” Mr Barnett said. “Alex has had significant roles as secretary and as a strike team leader, improving our important surge capacity when major fires occur,” he said. “Now he illustrates the diversity of brigades by continuing the very important role of advocating for community safety and helping behind the scenes.”

Learn more about CFA’s world-respected surge capacity on the VFBV website.

Flowerdale was devastated by the Black Saturday fires but the destruction never dampened the dedication of local volunteer firefighters.

Now with NSW reeling from fire, the Flowerdale community is repaying some of the support it received in 2009.

At the weekend Flowerdale CFA volunteers inspired the local community to raise $1000 to donate to the Rainbow Flats Rural Fire Service brigade which lost its station and some equipment while houses were destroyed in the town.

Thirteen Flowerdale district people died in the 2009 fires and many local houses were destroyed. The fire station was damaged but survived.

Captain Brian Makin said the community had rallied to make the brigade’s annual open day a successful fundraiser.

“Our treasurer Trudie Gouge was watching the news and saw what happened at Rainbow Flats and suggested we donate the money from our annual open day to support the brigade,” Captain Makin said.

“We received money from New South Wales and we had personnel come down here to help…we’re just one brigade returning a favour.”

Captain Makin said the brigade was thankful for the support it received after the Black Saturday fires and the community was keen to support the fundraiser. “We put up a big board explaining the donation and people were happy to support it,” he said. “New South Wales came to assist us with money and people, now we’re repaying them.”

The open day, which included stallholders from the regular Flowerdale market, also carried important fire safety messages.

“We handed out fire prevention material and did demonstrations on fire safety,” Captain Makin said. “Our area is slowly browning up and on a bad day a fire would push along.”

Brigade volunteers have been to NSW to support the massive campaign. First lieutenant Ian Charles has had two trips along with firefighters Gabby Denk and Glen Woods.

The nearby Whittlesea Freemason’s Lodge is also donating to the NSW fire appeal.

Volunteer Fire Brigades Victoria (VFBV) CEO Adam Barnett said the brigade’s donation showed how volunteers reached out to help communities in different ways during times of crisis.

“Not only has the Flowerdale brigade sent volunteers to help on the fire ground, they have dug deep to raise money to help a fellow brigade get back on its feet,” Mr Barnett said.

“This is another example of CFA volunteers supporting communities near and far.”

Learn more about CFA’s world-respected surge capacity on the VFBV website.

More than 100 south-east Victorian volunteer firefighters have so far helped to ease the fire threat in NSW and Queensland as part of a huge mobilisation of support.

Along with volunteers from across Victoria, about 150 from the south-east have joined the interstate campaign, another example of the strength of the state’s volunteer CFA system.

Volunteer Fire Brigades Victoria (VFBV) CEO Adam Barnett said this reflected the commitment and readiness of volunteers to help in times of crisis.

“Volunteers play an important role in our communities every day of the year, but when major disasters happen their training, dedication and professionalism really come to the fore,” Mr Barnett said. “To be able to give their time to help interstate is a fantastic contribution.”

VFBV District 27 President and Yallourn North volunteer Lance King was one of the strike team members and said the efforts had been appreciated.

“Everyone you drive past waves at you; it makes you feel like you’re doing something good for the community,” he said.

Mr King was one of about 150 volunteers to fly from Melbourne with the Royal Airforce, following a similar deployment earlier in the week.

Based at Richmond Airforce Base, Mr King and other volunteers were involved in community assurance work, clearing around properties and other asset protection, manning communications vehicles and backburning.

The deployment was hard work. “You might get in between 9 or 11 at night depending on how far you go and what work you’re doing and you’re on the bus at 6 in the morning to go to the staging area,” Mr King said.

“But it’s worth it. A lot of people have been evacuated but everyone we saw was very appreciative. We had one guy who brought us cartons of soft drinks,” he said.

The team was based north-west of Sydney near the Gospers Mountain fire.

Mr King and his fellow volunteer group returned to Victoria on Monday.

VFBV District 10 President Stratford brigade member Mark Jones returned home on Friday after a week in NSW before returning to the fire zone this week.

“We did a lot backburning and dry firefighting with hand tools like rake hoes to build fire breaks, starting at Goulburn and then Wilberforce and then north of there,” he said.

“There’s tonnes of work to do up there. It was extremely steep terrain and the fires were massive.”

Mr Jones also appreciated the community welcome. “You find a lot of people tooting the horn and giving us thumbs up, which was nice,” he said.

The volunteers praised employers for allowing them time to contribute to the fire effort.

Crews from Bunyip, Koo Wee Rup, Nerrim South, Lakes Entrance, Bairnsdale, Carrum Downs, Mt Martha, Churchill, Rosebud, Welshpool, Traralgon East, Loch, Stratford, Lang Lang, Heyfield and Yallourn North were among those from the region to contribute to the firefighting surge capacity.

Learn more about CFA’s world-respected surge capacity on the VFBV website.

Quick-thinking northern Victorian CFA volunteers nipped a spreading fire in the bud during their strike team patrols in New South Wales.

While hundreds of Victorian volunteers were deployed to NSW to assist with the firefight and assisting with patrols, backburning and community engagement, one strike team happened upon a new fire as it started.

The team included volunteers and tankers from Yea, Alexandra, Kilmore, Kinglake, Dookie and Strathbogie and was part of a huge mobilisation of support.

Yea volunteer Neil Beer said strike team members based at the Singleton army barracks were refuelling vehicles when they noticed the fire starting.

“We were going to fill up the forward command vehicle and were heading towards the main highway when we saw a puff of smoke coming up from the rear of a passing coal train,” Mr Beer said. “The next thing there were flames and there was a strong wind, probably 40-45 kph, and within a minute it had covered more than 100 metres.

“We were seeing this happen in front of us.”

The volunteers rushed to the nearby New England Highway where they met a traffic policeman who closed the highway and asked them to organise a strike team.

In the meantime, a NSW Rural Fire Service tanker arrived, allowing the Victorian volunteers call Singleton and arrange two strike teams to return to the blaze.

The highway was closed for about four hours. The fire briefly jumped the highway but went into a river flat area and stopped within about 50 metres.

“The concern was there was a fuel station about 200 metres away but it was kept contained,” Mr Beer said. “It was pure luck that we were Johnny on the spot to see the smoke and then the flames start up.”

Mr Beer said he was impressed by the efforts of Victorian volunteers during their deployment. “The professionalism of CFA volunteers really stood out,” he said.

Volunteer Fire Brigades Victoria (VFBV) CEO Adam Barnett said the quick action reflected the professionalism and high quality of training undertaken by all Victorian volunteers.

“All volunteers should be proud of their efforts in New South Wales and in their own communities every day of the year,” Mr Barnett said. “Incidents like this show why we invest so much time, energy and effort into improving CFA and working together to make it a better place to volunteer and work.”

“What we do aims to protect our state’s most important asset – its people.”

Learn more about CFA’s world-respected surge capacity on the VFBV website

Young Boort CFA volunteer Mitch Baker has jumped straight from the frying pan of VCE exams into the devastating fires in New South Wales.

Fresh from completing his final VCE exam, Mitch, 18, joined about 70 volunteers from around Victoria in the latest strike team to battle the massive fires.

Overall hundreds of Victorian volunteers have travelled to NSW and Queensland in a huge mobilisation of support.

Mitch has been a Boort brigade member for more than two years and communications officer for the past year while continuing his school studies.

“I had my last exam the previous Thursday and then flew out the next Tuesday,” he said.

Although still a teenager, Mitch says he’s well trained and prepared for the major fire zone.

“I’ve been to a few fires locally but nothing of this magnitude but we’re all well trained and know what to do and how to take direction,” he said.

This was Mitch’s first strike team and he was pleased to add to the huge CFA volunteer surge capacity. “When you look at the news and see how bad it is, you just want to go and help the people,” he said. “It’s good to chip in and do your bit.”

Mitch hopes to study cyber security at Deakin University Geelong next year.

Boort brigade secretary Russel Talbot and fellow member Mark Minogue were among those flying to NSW on Wednesday afternoon.

Volunteer Fire Brigades Victoria (VFBV) CEO Adam Barnett said the commitment of experienced and new members contributed to the CFA’s amazing surge capacity when major disasters happen.

“Our volunteers come from diverse backgrounds and make an incredible contribution both locally and far afield when needed,” Mr Barnett said.

“What makes our CFA so special is its connection with our communities and the fact that we have well-trained and capable people ready to drop everything and help in times of crisis,” he said.

“We expect to have a long and challenging season ahead of us and hope these latest fires inspire more young people to consider joining their local CFA.”

Learn more about CFA’s world-respected surge capacity on the VFBV website.

Rushworth Fire Brigade volunteer Deb Thompson helped to save houses in New South Wales as part of her first strike team experience and has returned for a second campaign.

Ms Thompson was one of six Rushworth volunteers in the initial strike team, working as a second tanker driver and a firefighter.

Last Wednesday she joined about 90 volunteers from across Victoria to return to the devastated area to resume her duties.

Ms Thompson, who has been a Rushworth brigade volunteer for more than 10 years, was part of the team that drove the Rushworth tanker to the fire area on Sunday, November 10.

“We stopped the first night in Wagga Wagga, then went to Singleton for a few days and then on to near Taree,” she said.

The fire devastation was overwhelming. “You see it on TV and it’s massive but to see it in real life really hits you,” Ms Thompson said.

“We were deployed to a town called Greta to help save some houses and we did that. It made me feel really good to know that we made a difference.”

Ms Thompson was happy to return to the area.

“They need the help and if us volunteers don’t stick our hands up, you’re going to have a hard time and the damage is going to be much worse.”

Brigade captain Mark Jones said Rushworth’s tanker remained in NSW and the brigade was continuing to send crews to it.

“We’ve done a lot of blacking out and working on the fire front around Port Macquarie and Taree,” he said.

“We were based at the Singleton Lone Pine Army Barracks during the catastrophic day and went to the Greta fire. It was close to being Black Saturday weather.”

Mr Jones had been part of a strike team around Sydney in the late 1990s but this was “a lot worse”. “The fire is everywhere,” he said.

Volunteer Fire Brigades Victoria (VFBV) CEO Adam Barnett said CFA volunteers had stepped up when needed the most.

“Like an elastic band stretching when you need it to – CFA’s volunteer surge capacity has been working exactly as it is designed to,” Mr Barnett said.

“Victoria is one of Australia’s most fire-prone areas and we rely on the sacrifice and dedication of CFA volunteers every year. It looks like we will have a long and challenging season ahead of us but volunteers will be working hard to keep us safe.”

Learn more about CFA’s world-respected surge capacity on the VFBV website.

Stawell CFA volunteers Jason Willis and Molly Gray have made a good tag team in supporting the massive firefighting operation in NSW.

The parents were among hundreds of volunteers from across Victoria who joined the interstate campaign, another example of the strength and importance of the state’s volunteer CFA system.

Molly was part of the first district strike team and Jason later joined a separate team, helping with strategic backburning and community support.

Molly returned on Saturday for a second deployment and Jason will return at the start of December to help for a second time.

This was their first interstate mission but the parents are experienced in local and regional firefighting.  

Jason followed his father into the CFA and Molly joined about six years ago. They are both junior leaders in the Stawell brigade and Jason was recently elected District 16 Volunteer Fire Brigades Victoria (VFBV) State Councillor.

Their daughter, Myah, has just moved from being a junior to a senior CFA volunteer while they have another daughter too young to join but already keen.

VFBV CEO Adam Barnett said the commitment of volunteers to help in times of crisis should be applauded, along with the support of their families and workplaces.

“Across Victoria in recent weeks hundreds of volunteers have gone to New South Wales to help and in each case, they’ve had families, partners, friends and workplaces pitching in to assist,” Mr Barnett said.

“For every volunteer on the fire ground there are many people at home keeping life on track. This is what makes our CFA surge capacity such a successful force.”

Jason said he and Molly were happy to support the interstate teams. “We have good family support and my mother-in-law was able to look after the girls while we were away,” he said.

Molly was part of the District 15 and 16 strike team working on CFA appliances while Jason was part of an 18-member strike team working alongside NSW Rural Fire Service volunteers doing strategic burns near Kempsey.

“We took all our directions from the local incident controller,” he said.

“It was a massive fire and they need a lot of support so that’s why we’ve put our hands up to go back again.”

“District 16 has a great reputation for assisting others. We have the Grampians in our region so we’re grateful for any help that comes to us and always willing to put our hand up to return the favour.”

Jason said Victorian volunteers did valuable work and integrated into the community. “We bought our supplies from the local supermarket and ate at the local RSL with the other strike teams; we were working with the community,” he said.

Learn more about CFA’s world-respected surge capacity on the VFBV website.

Werribee CFA volunteer Belinda Craig says protecting the community is her number one priority…meeting stars like U2’s Bono is just a bonus.

Ms Craig led a four-member Werribee crew to patrol fire lines, completing backburning and checking on residents.

The crew, also including Simon Roberson, Matt Mannix and Rohan Rizzoli, arrived in NSW on Tuesday and returned on Saturday. They were based at Richmond.

On the way to the fire zone, they met Bono and other U2 band members at the Melbourne airport.

Ms Craig said meeting the rock stars was a thrill but paled in comparison to protecting lives and property.

“Meeting Bono was awesome and we appreciated their interest, but if I had to choose between meeting a celebrity and saving a house, I’d protect the house any day,” she said.

“That’s our priority.”

Ms Craig has been a volunteer for 30 years, following in the footsteps of her father Don.

“I joined as soon as I turned 11 and went up to seniors at 16 and have been there ever since,” she said. “It’s nice to give back to the community.”

Ms Craig has been on many strike teams, including Sydney 2001-2002, Black Saturday and others across the region.

“They’ve all been big fires and challenging but we’re well trained and experienced to deal with then,” she said.

Volunteer Fire Brigades Victoria (VFBV) CEO Adam Barnett praised the commitment and readiness of volunteers to help in times of crisis.

“About 400 CFA members have been deployed to assist NSW crews with firefighting, incident management and specialist roles and that number increases every day,” he said.

Mr Barnett added that no Victorian stations were left empty and no communities left unprotected while the volunteers were interstate.

“The CFA surge capacity is working exactly as it is designed to,” he said. “When major disasters happen the training, dedication and professionalism of volunteers really come to the fore.”

Learn more about CFA’s world-respected surge capacity on the VFBV website.

In June of this year, the State Government launched a pilot to provide emergency workers (volunteers and staff) with access to provisional payments for their mental health injuries.

This pilot is part of the Governments Mental Health initiatives and enables eligible current and former CFA volunteers to access payments for the reasonable cost of medical and like expenses for their CFA related mental health injury covered by the pilot for up to 13 continuous weeks from the date they submit their claim.

This allows CFA volunteers to access reimbursement for medical treatment and services while their claim is being assessed and for an extended period even where their claim is rejected. The pilot is being offered to not only CFA members, but Victoria Police, Ambulance Victoria, MFB, ESTA, DELWP and other emergency related public sector employees including registered nurses. The pilot is funded by the Emergency Services Workers and Volunteers Mental Health Support Fund, which has been established by the Department of Justice and Community Safety for the purposes of this pilot.

For volunteers, CFA will provide all paperwork and case management, and will reimburse eligible members for treatment costs . CFA will then be reimbursed by the pilot. The pilot will cover expenses such as consultation with your GP, the cost of prescription medication and consultations with a psychologist and/or psychiatrist.

VFBV encourages any member who may be experiencing a mental health injury or trauma such as PTSD, depression or anxiety that has been caused by CFA service to make contact with the CFA wellbeing team (1800 959 232), and consider accessing the provisional payments pilot. A claim form is available from your CFA District Office, and VFBV has requested the forms also be made available online. A copy of the pilot opt-in document is available at the bottom of this page which needs to be returned along with your claim form in order to participate in the pilot.

Any members having difficulty accessing the pilot should make contact with a VFBV State Councillor or Support Officer for assistance.

A Governmental Steering Committee has been established to oversee and guide the pilot in making provisional payments to eligible volunteer emergency workers and it will operate in conjunction with a Steering Committee focused on the scope of paid workforces. The Steering Committee is made up of representatives including AV, CFA, SES, Victoria Police and VFBV. Government agencies represented on the Committee include the Departments of Premier and Cabinet, Justice, Treasury and Health, DELWP, EMV and Worksafe.

VFBV is represented by CEO Adam Barnett who has reported very positive progress. “I commend the Government on this mental health initiative and see this as an extremely important project to improve early intervention for emergency service volunteers and staff alike. This is a very positive step in helping to remove the stigma around seeking assistance for mental health and providing members with compassionate and accessible options for support” he said. The pilot will focus on determining claims as quickly as possible, recognising the importance of early intervention.

A copy of the Provisional Payments Pilot Fact Sheet is available for download at the bottom of this page along with a copy of the schedule of fees information detailing what is available to members for reimbursement.

Further information can be found on the Provisional Payments website at www.vic.gov.au/provisional-payments

If any CFA members or their families require assistance please contact the CFA Wellbeing Support Line on 1800 959 232 which is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

Nominations for the 2020 Spirit of CFA Awards have now opened.

The awards, first held in 2018, recognise the exceptional achievements of CFA volunteers and staff across nine categories (further details below) that align to the CFA values and the contributions they have made to CFA, local communities and the state of Victoria. The Spirit of CFA Awards are supported by the Victorian Government’s Valuing Volunteers Program.

Local communities, organisations, government agencies, brigades, districts and regions are welcome and encouraged to nominate a CFA individual or team for one of the nine awards. In particular, the Spirit of CFA Awards have the ability to recognise some of the quiet achievers who go about their work without any thought of being recognised.

Applications are open from 29 September 2019 and close on 3 January 2020, with the winners to be announced at the Spirit of CFA Awards ceremony in May 2020.

To be eligible for the awards, the nominees need to reflect CFA’s values and have made a significant contribution to CFA and the community within the past two years.

Click here to nominate a worthy recipient for the 2020 Spirit of CFA Awards or go to https://www.cfa.vic.gov.au/about/spirit-of-cfa-awards 

Nominations close at 11.59pm on 1 March 2020.

Update 16/01/2020: due to the high level of operational activity the deadline for nominations has again been extended to Sunday 1 March 2020. With some incredible stories coming from this year's fire season, this is a terrific opportunity to recognise those people who you think make an incredible contribution to CFA. 

For more information contact This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. 

 


 

The nine categories of the awards are:

1.       Youth Award (individual award only)

The Youth Award acknowledges CFA members between the ages of 11 and 25 who inspire others through their commitment to their brigade and community and consistently demonstrate collaboration, initiative and leadership.

This award is open to all members between the age of 11 and 25 at the time of nomination.

 

2.       Seniors Award (individual award only)

The Seniors Award pays tribute to CFA members over the age of 60 who inspire and mentor others through their commitment to their brigade and community and consistently demonstrate collaboration, initiative and leadership.

This award is open to all individuals over the age of 60 at the time of nomination.

 

3.       Living the Values Award (individual award only)

The prestigious Living the Values Award honours CFA members who have and continue to exemplify CFA’s values. Nominees promote safety at all times. They show respect, empathy and understanding. They act with integrity, honesty and fairness. Nominees also work collaboratively, maintaining open communication and responding and adapting to change.

This award is open to individuals of all ages, locations and roles.

 

4.       Excellence in Community Engagement Award

The Excellence in Community Engagement Award recognises CFA members who have worked collaboratively to develop and apply innovative approaches to community engagement. Their dedication to safety and resilience has created meaningful and lasting relationships and results.

This award is open to individuals and teams of all ages, locations and roles.

 

5.       Inclusion and Fairness Champion Award

CFA’s Inclusion and Fairness Champion consistently demonstrates honesty and fairness. They are a champion for equality, diversity and inclusion by challenging the status quo and breaking down the systematic barriers to inclusion and diversity. The CFA member encourages mental health awareness and promotes both physical and mental safety and wellbeing.

This award is open to individuals and teams of all ages, locations and roles.

 

6.       Excellence in Partnership Development Award

Excellence in Partnership Development recognises CFA members who engaged with other agencies and community organisations before, during and/or after an emergency. By collaborating with key stakeholders, nominees have improved the efficiency of emergency management arrangements in the brigade and local area to meet stakeholder and community needs.

The award is open to individuals and teams of all ages, locations and roles.

 

7.       Excellence in Interagency or Group Cooperation Award

The Excellence in Community Interagency or Group Cooperation recognises members who engage with all emergency management agencies before, during and/or after an emergency. By building partnerships, sharing knowledge and working in collaboration, nominees promote and practice interoperability to ensure the needs of the community are met.

This award is open to individuals and teams of all ages, locations and roles.

 

8.       Excellence in Capability Planning Award

The Excellence in Capability Planning Award acknowledges the contribution made by CFA members in ensuring we have the capability and resources to keep the community sage. By showing leadership in planning and preparation and encouraging the development of our people CFA will meet community needs now and into the future.

This award is open to individuals and team of all ages, locations and roles.

 

9.       Excellence in Innovation Award

Excellence in Innovation celebrates CFA members who lead transformational change to our services, systems, governance and processes to improve service delivery outcomes, meeting organisational and community needs – now and into the future.

This award is open to individuals and teams of all ages, locations and roles.                  

The 2019 VFBV Volunteer Welfare and Efficiency Survey is now open to all CFA volunteers.

CLICK HERE TO TAKE THE SURVEY. 

The survey, is an annual snapshot of volunteer opinion and welfare. It has become a critical tool in monitoring short-and long-term trends, and the effectiveness of initiatives aimed at improving CFA volunteer engagement and wellbeing. Last year over 2,500 CFA volunteers took part in the survey and almost 6,000 volunteers took part across the surveys offered to fire service volunteers across Australia.

The survey is made up of 33 questions chosen by volunteers and takes just 10 – 15 minutes to complete. Your comments and answers are confidential, and the results go straight to the decision makers.

The survey is a reliable and important method used to capture the views of volunteers while also tracking trends in volunteer opinion across the eight years of the survey, you can access the results of the 2018 VFBV Volunteer Welfare and Efficiency Survey here.

It is one of the largest surveys of its kind in Australia and VFBV supports other Australian State and Territory volunteer associations in running the same survey within the other fire services to gain a national perspective. VFBV is also supporting Victorian SES Volunteer Association (VicSESVA) in offering the survey to VICSES members to also gain an understanding of VICSES volunteers. Please see details below of the other surveys available.

If you have any issues accessing the survey – please contact your VFBV Support Officer or the VFBV office This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or (03) 9886 1141. We are also able to send out paper copies of the survey to members who do not have internet access.

 



2019 Volunteer Welfare and Efficiency Survey available to fire agency volunteers from across Australia

The Volunteer Welfare and Efficiency Survey is also being offered to volunteers from fire agencies from across Australia. The survey has been a success in Victoria since 2012 and is being offered to fire service volunteers again in 2019 through their respective representative volunteer associations as part of the Council of Australian Volunteer Fire Associations (CAVFA).

The survey was developed by VFBV to address a significant gap in the information available to the decision makers and over the years has become an unmatched guide to trends in volunteer opinions.

The survey will take 10 – 15 minutes to complete, and all answers and comments are confidential, the results are analysed by VFBV independently of the volunteer associations and also compared to provide a national snapshot of volunteer expectations and opinion.   

To take part, click on your fire service below.

New South Wales

NSW Rural Fire Service Survey

Queensland

Rural Fire Service Queensland Survey

South Australia

Country Fire Service Survey

Tasmania

Tasmanian Fire Service Volunteers Survey 

Tasmanian Fire Service Retained Volunteers Survey

Victoria

Country Fire Authority Survey 

Western Australia

Volunteer Fire and Rescue Service Survey

Note: Association of Volunteer Bush Fire Brigades (AVBFB) have elected not to take part in this year’s survey, please contact AVBFB directly if you have any queries.



2019 Volunteer Welfare and Efficiency Survey available to VICSES volunteers

The Volunteer Welfare and Efficiency Survey is being offered again to VICSES volunteers. The survey is being offered to VICSES volunteers by their representative volunteer association, Victorian SES Volunteer Association (VicSESVA) in partnership with VFBV.

VicSESVA have previously participated in the Volunteer Welfare and Effiency Survey in 2015 and in 2016 and 2017 as part of the wider Victorian Emergency Management Volunteer Welfare and Efficiency Survey. The 2019 survey will be able to compare the results with those of previous years to understand any trends that have emerged in volunteer opinion.

The survey will take 10 – 15 minutes to complete, and all answers and comments are confidential, and are analysed independently of VicSESVA. VicSESVA will then use the survey results to advocate on behalf of VICSES volunteers to Government, VICSES and Emergency Management Victoria.

CLICK HERE TO TAKE THE SURVEY FOR VICSES VOLUNTEERS. 

VFBV CEO Andrew Ford stepping down as CEO
A message from the VFBV State President Nev Jones AFSM 

VFBV CEO Andrew Ford has advised the VFBV Board of his desire to step down as VFBV CEO as of end April 2019.  While this is sad news for VFBV, I am sure you will share with me in recognising that Andrew has made an outstanding contribution to VFBV, CFA volunteers and the community over many years, and truly deserves our support as he chooses to pursue other career and family objectives.

Andrew was appointed to VFBV CEO in February 2007 and prior to that held various senior management positions as a CFA employee during a 15 year career commencing in 1992, and involving appointments as CFA Manager Corporate Planning and General Manager CFA Westernport Area. 

Through Andrew’s leadership VFBV operates as a highly professional organisation and fortunately, in recognition that this time would eventually arrive, we have a well-established succession strategy in place.  I am pleased to also announce that the VFBV Board has appointed experienced CFA volunteer and VFBV Executive Officer Adam Barnett as the new VFBV CEO  from 1 May 2019.

Andrew has agreed to continue his outstanding commitment to CFA volunteers and stay on with VFBV in a part-time strategic advisory role.  This will allow Andrew to focus his energy and expertise on driving VFBV’s focus on navigating the complex and challenging period ahead that will almost certainly see the Victorian State Government push ahead with its plans to create Fire Rescue Victoria.  As members know, this involves plans to separate operational paid staff out of CFA and discontinue Victoria’s world-renowned model of integrating volunteers and paid staff working as one unified team and VFBV has been very clear that it poses significant risks to the sustainability and effectiveness of CFA.

The VFBV Board is extremely grateful to Andrew for remaining with us in this part-time capacity to support a smooth transition for our new CEO and enable an even stronger focus on navigating the very vulnerable times that the Governments fire service reform agenda will create.  Freeing Andrew up from the day to day leadership of VFBV will allow him to dedicate his significant expertise to help us influence an outcome that can achieve the strongest possible CFA despite the significant downsides of a very flawed fire service reform proposition.

In addition to continuing part time with VFBV, Andrew will be pursuing some other career interests and taking the opportunity to establish a better family /work balance following what has been a very demanding role as VFBV CEO over the past 12 years.  We wish Andrew well with these endeavours and will watch with interest as the next steps in his career evolve.

Andrew, I take this opportunity to thank you personally for your wisdom, leadership, integrity and courage.  Your knowledge and expertise on matters relating to CFA particularly and Victoria’s emergency management sector generally is second to none.  Your understanding and expertise on matters relating to CFA and other emergency management sector volunteers is an invaluable asset that we must somehow remain connected to.  You will be sorely missed as VFBV CEO and greatly appreciated in the role you will continue to play with VFBV and CFA into the future.

I take this opportunity to welcome Adam Barnett into the VFBV CEO role.  Adam is well known throughout both VFBV and CFA and is a highly experienced and well-regarded operator.  Adam has acted as VFBV CEO on numerous occasions and performed excellently during these periods.  Adam brings 13 years CFA experience to the role, joining VFBV in July 2007, and is well known to members through his role as VFBV Executive Officer since 2010.  Adam has worked on behalf of CFA volunteers for many years and his preparation to operate in the CEO role has been underway as part of VFBVs ongoing strategic planning for some time. 

Adam will hit the ground running with regard to the continued day-to-day leadership of VFBV, the strategic challenges presenting to us and the important ground work we must always do to support, engage with and advocate for CFA volunteers and the work volunteers do to protect Victorian communities.  

Having Adam take on ongoing management and leadership of VFBV and at the same time being able to retain the expertise of Andrew during what will be a very challenging and vulnerable time for CFA in the year ahead is the best possible way to transition to Andrew’s departure from the CEO role.  As VFBV President I am very proud that VFBV has established such a mature transition arrangement that provides continuity and stable leadership despite a period of significant vulnerability and upheaval in the emergency sector and CFA.

Further announcements will be made about an opportunity to recognise Andrew’s outstanding contribution to VFBV and to give him an appropriate farewell from his role as VFBV CEO.

Work will commence immediately to recruit a new VFBV Executive Officer to replace Adam. Rest assured that VFBV is well positioned to make this milestone transition. 

VFBV’s strength comes not just from our leadership positions but from you our members, and I take this opportunity to express my ongoing gratitude to all of you for the contribution you make to ensuring the voice of volunteers is respected and heard.  We remain steadfast in our commitment to represent volunteers on all matters that affect them so that on behalf of all Victorians we sustain strong volunteerism and the strongest possible CFA for the benefit of our communities.


A time to remember and reflect
By Andrew Ford, VFBV Chief Executive Officer 

At a personal level it doesn’t take hot February weather to remind me of the 2009 fires; the conditions leading up to them, that morning of the 7 Feb 2009, the days of firefighting, the recovery effort, nor the dreadful pain as we heard news of the loss of life, livelihood and property.

I remember telling my children on the morning of 7 Feb as I went up to the brigade ready for deployment to ‘sit quietly and take it in because I think today is probably going to be a terrible day in history’. I know exactly where I was when I said this and it still jolts me when I think about how awfully profound that conversation was.

Like many CFA members and affected community people I don’t need a 10 year milestone to remind me of the extent and impact of the tragic losses, the impact on individuals, families and communities nor the anxiety I have about the possibility of experiencing anything like that again and the worry I have about how we would go if it does happen.

The 2009 fires were a dreadful period in history, and I know they live in many of us every day. It is difficult to articulate a mix of feelings and a ‘knowing’ something we probably wish we didn’t know.

At the same time, it is a ‘knowing’ that is real and vitally important not to ignore, because what we now know and what we learned from that experience must inform how we plan and lead for the future.

It is important that we use this milestone to quietly stop and reflect on the tragedy and it is also important that we remember the enormous effort that prevented even further loss, the constructive things, lessons and incredible human spirit that emerged from that tragedy.

It’s hard to know what to say or do at this time and it is impossible to get it right for everyone. Each of us will deal with the memory and the ‘knowing’ in our own way and my biggest hope is that no one is doing this alone. This is a time for quiet reflection and a time to remember each single life impacted, each family impacted, each community impacted. The quantum of loss was devastating and the impact on communities is still profound.

My thoughts and prayers are with every person who suffered loss, every firefighter or emergency worker who did what they could to help and every person feeling pain any time and particularly now as the events of 2009 and Black Saturday will raise in profile as the 10-year commemorations take place.

And in addition to remembering the losses and the personal impacts we should proudly remember the incredible effort and resilience as people put lives and communities back together. However hard the memory is, we must use this time as a stark reminder that fires like this do happen and could happen again.

It is also a time to reflect on the incredible contribution of CFA volunteers and the CFA paid staff who work alongside them; the huge number of volunteers and paid staff from a whole range of agencies; and people across all parts of the community and business world who came together to combat the fires, deal with the impacts, recover and learn so that we could be better placed to deal with future emergencies.

A lot was learned both during and following these dreadful fires. Many of our lives did change forever after February 2009 and everyone put in an amazing effort to prevent what could well have been an even more catastrophic loss.

I hate to think that there are some people who won’t learn from our experience of the 2009 fires without having to go through something like it themselves and some people who were there but have forgotten the important things to take from the 2009 fires.

I hesitate to say it here, and I will not dwell on it at this time, but I get very frustrated when I think that there are decisions being made today and plans still being hatched together that will weaken Victoria’s ability to handle fires such as those we experienced in 2009. I hope you are listening decision- makers because you have been told in no uncertain terms what our concerns are and if you break CFA and its ability to deal with events like the Black Saturday fires in the future it will be on your head. My apologies readers but this must be said.

To anyone in a position of authority I ask, as you pay your respects and remember the suffering and incredible rebuilding that followed the Black Saturday fires, search into your conscience and ask how the actions and decisions you are taking today position Victoria to deal with a 2009 Black Saturday fire situation when or if it happens again in the future. It will be too late to ask yourself this in retrospect and wish you had done something different.

That is all I am going to say about the frustrations for this column because I want our thoughts and our care to be focused on those who are no longer with us, for those who lost loved ones and for the communities and people who have been impacted by the 2009 fires.

To everyone who remembers the fires referred to now as the Black Saturday fires and the other fires of the 2009 summer take care and lean on someone if you need to talk or need support.

A reminder that the Member Assistance Program is available through the support line, 24 hours a day on 1800 959 232. Trained and experienced Psychologists, Counsellors, Peers and Chaplains are available to all members and their immediate families through this free and confidential service.


Reminder: Cold Climate Jackets

Brigades and Groups are reminded that they have until 28 February 2019 to return Cold Climate Jacket Order Forms to VFBV.

VFBV has mailed copies of the order form to all Brigade/Group Secretaries during January and the order forms are also available for download on the VFBV website here

VFBV worked with CFA to obtain funding for the additional Cold Climate Jackets through the Volunteer Emergency Service Equipment Program and it is envisaged that this funding will provide up-to an additional 1900 jackets state wide.

As previously advised, VFBV will continue to advocate for additional funding to further increase the allocation of Cold Climate Jackets to brigades.

Delivery of the jackets is expected late June/early July to be ready for the winter season.

 

2020 State Champs

As previously advised, CFA and VFBV are working towards conducting the 2020 State Rural Championships (Juniors & Seniors) and the State Urban Senior Championship at the same venue on the same two day weekend.

The Rural and Urban Championships will retain their own individual events, and be conducted as separate competitions but conducted concurrently alongside each other on the traditional Rural and Urban competition tracks.

The chairs and members of both the VFBV State Rural & Urban Competition Committees have met on several occasions with CFA to discuss the proposal put forward by CFA, and both Committees have now agreed to a combined weekend as a means of increasing participation and a way forward to enhance and improve our State Championships.

Rob Waterson AFSM, chair of the Urban Competition & Rules Committee, says ‘we need to embrace this new concept and all work together to ensure our Championships remain viable and sustainable into the future’.

Gerry Neyenhuis, chair of the State Rural Competition Committee, agrees, and says ‘will be a major showcase for CFA, and display the skills, efficiency and teamwork of competitors, all attributes of today’s firefighters.’

CFA, VFBV and members of the Rural & Urban Committees met at the Mooroopna Recreation Reserve last month and agreed the grounds well able to conduct both State Championships side by side, and in consultation with the Greater Shepparton City Council, agreed to the weekend of 28th & 29th March 2020.

A District Committee has already been formed, including CFA management, members of both the Rural & Urban Committees, VFBV members and staff. The District Committee will work over the coming year in the planning, preparation and management of the 2020 combined event and liaise and work with the Greater Shepparton City Council, which is very supportive of the 2020 State Championships being held at Mooroopna.

Any feedback or views from Brigades or members, can be directed to the VFBV Rural and Urban State Competition Committees by contacting Jenni Laing at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

 

Low Voltage Fuse Removal 

VFBV has received several inquiries from Brigades regarding the seemingly stalled rollout of Low Voltage Fuse Removal Courses across the state.

CFA has advised VFBV that the process hasn’t stalled but has slowed down over the Christmas/ New Year period, this is due to Federation University Trainers not being available over the Holiday season.

Due to Electrical Safety Victoria requirements, only endorsed personnel are able to conduct this training, in some instances CFA Instructors will be accompanied by an endorsed Electrical Safety trainer.

VFBV was happy to learn that LVFR training has already been delivered in six Districts across the state with a further seven courses booked in for the early this year. Electrical Safety Awareness Course is available online through the Training Hub and may be a pre-requisite for the course in your District depending on how you course delivery has been structured.

If Brigades are not sure when LVFR training is expected to reach their area VFBV suggest you contact your District Training Department for an update.

 

General Firefighter Project 

VFBV is happy to report that the General Firefighter project is progressing well with continued consultation between brigades, VFBV Delegates and CFA.

VFBV’s Delegates have been kept up to date with the course content and have been able to discuss concerns and ideas openly with the CFA project team. It is expected the Foundation Skills Drills will be released for pilot and volunteer feedback in late January/early February.

E-learning and Face-to Face content is still being developed with expected pilot release at the end of the Fire Season. General Firefighter updates can be accessed on Brigades online or LMS and are updated monthly.

If you have any questions, please contact your local CFA training team or VFBV working party via This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. 

 


2,500 volunteers have their say

Who participated?

The seventh annual, VFBV Volunteer Welfare and Efficiency Survey was conducted during the months of September and October 2018, with more than 2,500 CFA volunteers taking part.

The survey was also offered to fire service volunteers in Queensland, New South Wales, Tasmania and Western Australia taking the total participants to approximately 6,000 volunteers nationwide. 2018 was the third year that the survey was offered to fire service volunteers from across Australia, with survey results and trends now being used as a catalyst for dialogue at both state and national levels.

The Volunteer Welfare and Efficiency Survey is thought to be one of the biggest surveys of volunteer satisfaction in Australia. 

CFA Respondents

Analysis of the demographics of the respondents from the 2018 survey show that the respondents are representative of the wider CFA population. Some of the highlights include:

  1. 82% male, 17% female (2% of respondents indicated either transgender, prefer not to say or other)
  2. All age groups were represented, along with volunteers who have been with CFA for less than one year through to volunteers with more than 30 years of service with CFA
  3. Volunteers from every CFA district took part
  4. Brigade type:
    • 61% volunteers from rural brigades
    • 31% volunteers from urban brigades
    • 7% volunteers from integrated brigades
    • 1% volunteers from a CFA Coast Guard brigade

Understanding the results 

The survey uses a 1 to 10 scale (to represent people’s attitudes to a topic). This 1 to 10 scale is used to capture views about the Importance that a particular factor represents for the respondent, and then the respondent’s view of Performance for that particular factor. 10 being high importance/performance and 1 being low importance/performance.

Determining the Gap and VolWEL Outcome

The Gap between how closely performance meets the expectation of Importance, is referred to as the Volunteer Welfare and Efficiency Level (VolWEL) outcome.

The VolWEL outcome is a way to simply illustrate where things are working well or what needs attention.

A high VolWEL outcome is a sign that volunteer expectations are not being met while a low VolWEL outcome is a sign that volunteer expectations are closer to being met.

VolWEL Outcome

Key Observations from the 2018 Survey

Volunteer expectations are closest to being met in relation to:

Volunteer satisfaction is being negatively impacted on by:

 

Key results across the survey themes:

 

Volunteers are most satisfied, and their expectations are closest to being met, at their local brigade level. This includes that volunteers feel that diversity is welcomed and accepted within brigades, there are no barriers to the roles that women can occupy within brigades, and that the brigade environment is friendly, welcomes new members and creates good morale.

The biggest gap between volunteer expectations and performance of CFA is in relation to consultation with CFA volunteers at CFA corporate, regional and district levels. Additional feedback indicated that volunteer dissatisfaction with corporate level consultation includes consultation (or lack thereof) by government.

Volunteers also feel that CFA is not doing enough to provide training opportunities in formats, at times and at locations that makes it easy for volunteers to participate.

The survey also contains four questions relating to volunteer satisfaction which have shown either little of no improvement over the past three years.

The percentage of volunteers satisfied with their role as a CFA volunteer has not improved on the low levels reported over the last two years.

80% of volunteers who indicated they were leaders within their brigade are satisfied with their role, in comparison only 71% of respondents identifying either as a brigade member or a leader at a broader level indicated satisfaction with their volunteer role.

Of concern is only 56% of volunteers from integrated brigades indicated that they were satisfied with their role as a CFA volunteer. Satisfaction levels were highest amongst volunteers in rural brigades with 78% indicating they are satisfied with their volunteer role.

Satisfaction with the way volunteers are treated by CFA remains at a concerningly low level consistent with the decline first reported in 2016. This should be of significant concern to CFA and coupled with a decline in volunteers reported by CFA in 2018 it is possible that many dissatisfied volunteers have already resigned or withdrawn from CFA, meaning that this declining trend is likely understated in the reported results.

Higher than the overall average, 61% of females indicated that they were satisfied with how they were treated by CFA.

Volunteers from rural brigades are generally more satisfied with the way volunteers are treated by CFA (55%) than volunteers from urban and integrated brigades (43%). Of particular concern is the result that 39% of volunteers from urban and integrated brigades are actively dissatisfied with the way volunteers are treated by CFA.

There has been a slight improvement overall with the number of volunteers indicating they intend to continue their membership with CFA since the drop reported in 2016. This figure remains well below the 87% positive intention rate reported several years ago and coupled with the CFA reports of declining volunteer numbers is a trend that needs further analysis.

84% of members from rural brigades indicated that they intend to continue their membership of CFA, this intention is lower for volunteers from urban brigades at 78% and only 64% of volunteers from integrated brigades indicated that they intend to continue with CFA.

The overall result for recommending being a CFA volunteer to other people has increased slightly again in 2018 from 73% in 2017 to 74% in 2018.

Results from members from integrated brigades show that only 54% would recommend being a CFA volunteer to people they know. 79% of volunteers from rural brigades would recommend being a CFA volunteer to people they know, the results for urban volunteers is lower at 70% consistent with previous years.

Motivation for volunteering

Volunteers were given six choices to select what the single most important reason they are a CFA volunteer. The top two choices accounted for 94% of responses to this question. 60% of respondents indicated that their main reason for volunteering was to help protect the community I live in, while 34% selected a sense of fulfilment in supporting my community in a meaningful way.

Over the seven years of the survey there has been a shift away from volunteering for a sense of fulfilment in supporting my community in a meaningful way towards helping to protect the community that I live in. The change in reason for volunteering could be a lead indicator of a decreasing motivation of volunteers to contribute beyond their local area which could be a concerning trend for CFA’s surge capacity into the future.


Inviting Applicants for CFA Board

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 service urban communities and two being representatives from brigades predominantly serving rural communities. 

The terms of CFA Board Members Hazel Clothier, Lynda Hamilton, Peter Shaw and Tim Young expire 19th July 2019, triggering the need for VFBV to seek applications for a panel of names to be nominated for the next term commencing 20th July 2019. 

VFBV is seeking applications for volunteers interested in filling one of the four VFBV nominated positions on the CFA Board. 

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 for nomination to the CFA Board. 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 the CFA. 

From applications received and following interviews, VFBV will submit a panel of names to the Minister for Police & Emergency Services. 

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

CFA Board Members current annual remuneration is $58,598 (including Superannuation).

The CFA Board Charter is available from the VFBV office. For other relevant information, interested volunteers should contact VFBV - contact details below. 

Applications including a current resume must be emailed or faxed to VFBV by COB on Friday 24th May 2019 to: email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or fax: 03 9886 1618.  

Members may be aware of recent media reports of a significant data breach resulting in personal information relating to emergency services personnel circulating on the 'dark web'.

After preliminary investigations we can advise members of the following:

  1. CFA has confirmed that there has been NO breach of CFA systems

  2. The data breach appears to be limited to a small subset of members and is limited to data that is shared with the wider sector regarding members who perform Incident Management roles

  3. The data suggests the information includes volunteers and staff from CFA, MFB, VicPol and DELWP

  4. The information appears limited to name, rank, Brigade/Work Location, gender and member ID. CFA has confirmed that the data does not include any medical information

  5. The majority of CFA members who have had their data shared have been contacted. Work continues to reach anyone by phone who does not have a current email address

  6. Due to the multi agency aspect of the breach, the Department of Premier and Cabinet is coordinating Government response. The matter has been referred to Victoria Police who are being supported by IDCARE who is the National identity and cyber support service

 

CFA has advised that it is working with partner agencies to ensure data security is heightened to reduce the potential for any breaches. We will continue to monitor and advise of any updates as they become available. 

CFA have advised that ESTA will roll out several enhancements to the paging templates during December 2018, these enhancements have been facilitated based on feedback from the field.

Members would remember from previous VFBV Joint Committee updates that back in 2013, CFA agreed to modify the format of pager messages that would see the ten-digit incident number moved from the front of the message – to the end. This was a result of strong volunteer feedback when CFA moved from the old 4-line EAS Pager to the now two-line Alpha Legend pagers. The logic; given the smaller screen real-estate – moving any non-essential info out of the first two lines would help people see more important incident information without having to scroll. 

The enhancements being rolled out next month include (but are not restricted to) the following;


• Event number will now be at the end of the pager message

• Alarm template has been updated to include the Key Peg in front of key details (where key peg details have been provided)

• EMR template has been updated to include the agencies notified and the AV case number at the end of the pager message. Also changed is the EMR ancillary page (non-emergency) which will not contain patient details but still allow non EMR responder's to know the Brigade has been paged to an EMR event

An example of the new format is below:

CFA Operational Communications has also put out a document outlining the changes in more detail and providing several examples. You can download a copy of that guide form the bottom of this page, under Downloads.

 

 

A reminder to members that they are required to update their Uniden Digital Scanner with new firmware. The network is now using a propriety codec that the original firmware did not support. This has been updated in the latest firmware - so if your scanner has gone quiet recently, it is likely you have not yet updated your scanners software. Details ont he update can be found in this article: https://vfbv.com.au/index.php/component/k2/item/645-uniden-digital-scanner-software-update

Following some questions, we have updated the instructions on how to update your scanner's software. Please Note: Uniden does not currently provide a Linux or Mac OS version of its update software. If you don't have access to a computer running Windows, we suggest you use either a Brigade computer, or contact your local District office who may be able to assist.

Instructions

The Uniden UBCD436-PT scanner is required to be updated to ensure the scanner is current for the rollout of the outer Metro channels and enhancements under the Digital Radio Upgrade Project such as the updating of control channel frequencies across the State.  Also included with this upgrade is the DELWP Digital channels and removal of CFA analogue channels.

This update has been simplified by a single update file that can be done by:

  1. Click the link ( https://uniden.com.au/Downloads/CFA_firm_and_master_data_updater_V1_00_01.zip ) which will open a warning box:



  2. Click OK to download the CFA firm and Master Data Updater v.1 zip file

  3. Extract the Updater zip file onto your computer

  4. Run the Setup and follow the instructions to install the program

  5. Once installed, click on the desktop icon to run the CFA Firm and Master Data Update program

  6. Connect the scanner to the computer via the USB cable

  7. Press the menu button on the side of the scanner

  8. Rotate the Select knob until “Settings” is highlighted

  9. Press the Select knob down to select “Settings”

  10. Rotate the Select Knob until “PC Programming Mode” is highlighted

  11. Press the Select Knob down to select “PC Programming Mode”

  12. Press the “E-yes” key to enter PC Programming Mode

  13. Your Scanner should now be in “PC Programming Mode”

 

Notes:

  1. Your PC may ask permission to connect to the Scanner, if so, click Accept/Allow

  2. Windows File Explorer may automatically open which can be ignored or closed

  3. Once the update is completed you may notice the scanner displays “there is nothing to scan”. If you receive this simply enter in your district number and the “E” key to commence scanning all of your chosen favourites

  4. Any favourites you had previously created will be removed under the upgrade process. However they are held within the Sentinel software but do not write to the scanner

 

 

 

 

This news note is to inform you of some public messaging just launched by VFBV.

The messaging is part of a range of things being progressively developed by VFBV to help the public:

·         better understand the range and extent of the work CFA Volunteers do to keep our community safe,

·         learn about how they can help CFA Volunteers by being prepared in case of emergency, and

·         have more “skin in the game” by actively engaging with us as Supporters of CFA Volunteers.

As CFA members already know, predictions are that we are facing a very challenging fire season. Many Brigades have already attended more incidents than usual for this time of year and assuming that trend continues over the next few months, it is important to use every available tool to raise public awareness of the heightened fire risk.

Like every year, VFBV encourages our community to ‘think like a volunteer’ and ‘do their bit to support CFA’ by being prepared and staying vigilant over the hotter months. This year, we have produced two audio messages voiced by VFBV State President Nev Jones that will be played on various radio stations across Victoria until summer. If you would like to listen to them now, please use the links below:

Please tell your colleagues and networks that these messages are playing on radio and circulate the links above to ensure everyone is aware and can positively reinforce Nev’s messages whenever possible.

As well as the safety messages that are critical at this time of year, we can’t ignore that Victoria goes to the polls on 24 November. VFBV isn’t political in that we don’t “pick sides”, but we do have a very important role in making sure that any proposed policy is in the best interests of the safety of our communities.

Because of that, it is also important for all of us to remind the community about the capacity, value and essential nature of CFA volunteers and the current CFA model.

The CFA community embedded and volunteer based model, with volunteers and paid CFA staff working together as one team is the best model for Victoria.  As CFA volunteers we also know the current CFA model is the only model capable of mobilising the enormous resources required to deal with major, concurrent and long duration fires experienced almost every Victorian summer. 

The fact is that all major fire services reviews, including the 2009 Victorian Bushfires Royal Commission, recognised the vital importance of the current CFA model, and in particular, the importance of:

  1. The flexibility and capacity of CFA that exists because of its fully integrated paid and volunteer model, to continually evolve and adapt to meet changing risk circumstances and growing community service demands;

  2. CFAs highly trained and prepared volunteer surge capacity able to be mobilised from volunteer brigades across Melbourne’s outer metropolitan area, provincial towns and CFAs network of almost 1200 brigades;

  3. the value of CFA’s major incident management experience and local knowledge that exists within CFA’s vast volunteer resource;the importance of the CFA model as a fundamental foundation of community capacity and resilience; and

  4. the importance of respecting and recognising the value and professionalism of the work performed by CFA volunteers.
     

Unfortunately, some politicians and others with influence over them, have spent much of the past four years repeatedly telling the public that the CFA model no longer works, is stuck in the past, is outdated and somehow second-rate compared to a paid firefighter model.

While it’s obvious to us that it is not the model that needs to be changed, the repetition of this spin and political argy-bargy has left much of the public confused and with less confidence in our incredible service.

In the coming days we will provide a further update about the election in relation the CFA and CFA Volunteers, including tools and information for the public to use to understand the key issues for CFA Volunteers.

In the meantime, please encourage your colleagues and friends to visit www.SupportCFAVolunteers.com.au and register as a Supporter of CFA Volunteers to ensure they are kept informed of issues of importance to us as they evolve in the months and years ahead.

Links to Nev’s audio:

https://supportcfavolunteers.com.au/wp-content/uploads/2018/11/Nev181025A.wav 

https://supportcfavolunteers.com.au/wp-content/uploads/2018/10/Nev181025B.wav 

 

Volunteer Fire Brigades Victoria (VFBV) CEO Andrew Ford has welcomed today’s Liberal Nationals commitment to immediately introduce stand-alone presumptive legislation that does not discriminate between paid and volunteer firefighters and called on all sides of politics to commit to the same.

“Sadly, Victoria is the only Australian State that does not provide presumptive rights to firefighters if they are impacted by one of the cancers recognized as being linked with their work,” Mr. Ford said.

“Today’s commitment from the Liberal National opposition to right this wrong is very, very welcome.”

“VFBV has been advocating for this specific outcome since before the 2014 State Election and have consistently argued that the health and safety of our firefighters should be a priority, above politics.”

“We congratulate Matthew Guy for his commitment to urgently protect all firefighters equally and we call on every other political leader to immediately make the same public pledge.”

“More than three years after the last election promise, presumptive cancer legislation was introduced to Parliament at Easter this year, but it didn’t pass for two important reasons.”

“Firstly, the Bill treated volunteer and paid firefighters differently and set conditions for volunteers that meant many who contract cancer would not have been able to access compensation.”

“The other reason that Bill failed to achieve the support of the majority of MP’s was that it combined the Government’s completely separate, highly political plan to carve up the CFA.”

“Combining the issues not only doomed the presumptive cancer provisions to fail but was also seen by many innocent firefighters as a cynical attempt to use their health as a political bargaining chip.”

“As firefighters across Victoria prepare for a high-risk fire season, the least they should be offered is the knowledge that if they contract cancer as a result, a simple and equitable system will look after them and their families without the need for the complex legal battles the last Bill would have required.”

“All emergency workers deserve the greatest respect, especially volunteers who leave their homes and families to protect those of others without payment.”

“Every political leader should demonstrate that respect today by committing to support stand-alone, unambiguous, no tricks presumptive cancer legislation that does not discriminate between paid and volunteer firefighters as the first item on the Notice Paper of the next Parliament,” Mr. Ford ended

This year’s volunteer survey is in its final days. Have you done it yet? 

Help us help you and complete the survey today. There has never been a more important time for volunteers to have a say.

The survey continues to be an important and reliable method to capture the views of volunteers and track what has been achieved and is improving, as well as addressing areas that are the cause of dissatisfaction for volunteers.

The VFBV Volunteer Welfare and Efficiency Survey is an annual snapshot of volunteer opinion, which includes 33 questions on issues chosen by CFA volunteers. Last year over 2,600 CFA volunteers took part in the survey and over 7,700 volunteers took part across our interstate surveys. Your comments are confidential, but the results go straight to the decision makers.

The survey will take 10 – 15 minutes to complete and is open until close of business on Monday 22 October 2018.

For the third year, the Volunteer Welfare and Efficiency Survey is being offered to volunteers from fire agencies from across Australia. They survey has been a success in Victoria since 2012 and is being offered to fire service volunteers again in 2018 through each state’s representative associations as part of the Council of Australian Volunteer Fire Associations (CAVFA).

The survey was developed by VFBV, to address a significant gap in the information available to the state’s decision maker, and over the years has been become an unmatched guide to trends in volunteer opinions.

Your comments are confidential, and your input is vital. 

Take the survey today and tell your friends and fellow Brigade members: https://www.vfbv.com.au/cfa or direct via: https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/2018vfbvsurvey 

 

Members would be aware from previous updates, that VFBV has been requesting that CFA provide an update for the Uniden Scanners (Listening Sets) that will update the scanners with all the new CFA/DELWP radio channel mapping, talk groups and fireground channels.

Due to the high number of changes, VFBV requested if this update could be rolled into a firmware update that is required to update the scanners to overcome the ‘super grouping’ issue that was identified last year, to save members having to do multiple updates. Last year’s outage resulted in all scanners ‘going quiet’ for a couple of days when a proprietary P25 ‘super group’ codec was unexpectedly rolled out to the network last year. 

We are pleased to report that CFA has worked with Uniden to release a patch that will update the firmware and includes all the new CFA/DELWP channel mapping.

A summary of the changes available by installing the patch are:

  1. Upgraded Firmware to enable the use of Supergrouping of the RMR Network.
  2. Added new RMR sites serving Districts 7, 8, 11, 13, 14, 17 & 27.
  3. Added the RMR Fire Ground Talkgroups to Districts 7, 8, 13 & 14.
  4. Updated RMR Site Control Frequencies that were changed.
  5. Added new CFA Incident Management Channels (IMC's) including recent channel changes.
  6. Removed the CFA RMR Command & Control groups from each District profile as these are not current.
  7. Removed the Analogue channel numbers from all the CFA Channel Names.
  8. Added NAC's to initial local District Fireground channels.
  9. Updated the DEWLP Incident Channels for each District to reflect the P25 upgrade of DELWP Incident Channels.
  10. Updated the DEWLP Fire Ground Channels for each District.

 

This patch can be downloaded from here: https://www.uniden.com.au/product/ubcd436pt-au/#1508302157496-9588945a-630b 

Full instructions and a step-by step guide to downloading the software can be found at the bottom of this page, called "Uniden Software Download Instructions" as well as a guide to updating the Scanner. 

VFBV delegates to the Joint Communications and Technology Committee have congratulated CFA on the simple method for the update and thanked both CFA representatives and Uniden for their combined efforts, which has resulted in a positive outcome for members.

CFA advise members they need to apply the update prior to November 1st in order to coincide with planned network updates.

 


 

In other but related news, CFA has advised VFBV that its contract with the Australian supplier for the discounted Uniden Scanners has now ended, and CFA will not be accepting any further orders. Any additional sets will now need to be sourced by members locally. VFBV has advised CFA that there is likely to be renewed interest in additional sets with the forthcoming digital rollout of CFA digital comms to the outer metropolitan areas (District 7, 8, 13 and 14), and we will continue to monitor interest levels for additional subsidy programs in the future. Since the joint Digital Scanner initiative was announced by CFA and VFBV back in 2015, we are pleased to report that over 11,000 digital scanners have been distributed across 970 Brigades and 80 Groups, closing a hugely successful and collaborative approach between the two organisations.

Invitation to apply:  Board Member of Volunteer Fire Brigades Victoria (VFBV)

INVITATION OPEN TO ALL CFA VOLUNTEERS

 

As from 1st October 2018, there will be a vacancy on the VFBV Board.

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

The term of appointment will be to 1st October 2020 (two years) and applications are invited from interested volunteers to be considered for this vacancy. 

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

A Board Member Role Statement including the key selection criteria is available at the bottom of this page.

This is an honorary position; no honorarium is paid.


 

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

Closing date for written applications is 14th November 2018

 

Applications must be lodged with VFBV by Wednesday 14th November 2018 to:

VFBV, 9/24 Lakeside Drive, Burwood East  3151

Enquiries can be made via Tel: 9886 1141; Fax: 9886 1618; or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

The 2018 VFBV Volunteer Welfare and Efficiency Survey is now open to all CFA volunteers.

CLICK HERE TO TAKE THE SURVEY.

The survey will be open until Monday 22 October 2018.

The VFBV Volunteer Welfare and Efficiency Survey is an annual snapshot of volunteer opinion, which includes 33 questions on issues chosen by CFA volunteers. Last year over 2,600 CFA volunteers took part in the survey and over 7,700 volunteers took part across our interstate surveys. Your comments are confidential, but the results go straight to the decision makers.

The survey will take 10 – 15 minutes to complete and is open until close of business on Monday 22 October 2018.

The survey continues to be an important and reliable method to capture the views of volunteers and track what has been achieved and is improving, as well as addressing areas that are the cause of dissatisfaction for volunteers. You can access last years results from here

For the third year, the survey is being offered to volunteers from fire agencies across Australia. Please see below for details of the other State and Territory Fire Service surveys available.

 



2018 Volunteer Welfare and Efficiency Survey available to Fire Agency Volunteers from Across Australia

For the third year, the Volunteer Welfare and Efficiency Survey is being offered to volunteers from fire agencies from across Australia. They survey has been a success in Victoria since 2012 and is being offered to fire service volunteers again in 2018 through each state’s representative associations as part of the Council of Australian Volunteer Fire Associations (CAVFA).

The survey was developed by VFBV, to address a significant gap in the information available to the state’s decision maker, and over the years has been become an unmatched guide to trends in volunteer opinions.

The survey will take 10 – 15 minutes to complete and is open until close of business 22 October 2018.

To take part, click on your fire service below.

New South Wales

NSW Rural Fire Service Survey 

Queensland

Rural Fire Service Queensland Survey 

Tasmania

Tasmanian Fire Service Volunteers Survey 

Note Tasmanian Fire Service Retained Volunteers Association have elected to not take part this year, please contact TRVFA if you have any queries.

Victoria

Country Fire Authority Survey

Western Australia

Volunteer Fire and Rescue Service Survey 

 

The 2018 VFBV Volunteer Welfare and Efficiency Survey is now open to all CFA volunteers.

CLICK HERE TO TAKE THE SURVEY.

The survey will be open until Monday 22 October 2018.

The VFBV Volunteer Welfare and Efficiency Survey is an annual snapshot of volunteer opinion, which includes 33 questions on issues chosen by CFA volunteers. Last year over 2,600 CFA volunteers took part in the survey and over 7,700 volunteers took part across our interstate surveys. Your comments are confidential, but the results go straight to the decision makers.

The survey will take 10 – 15 minutes to complete and is open until close of business on Monday 22 October 2018.

The survey continues to be an important and reliable method to capture the views of volunteers and track what has been achieved and is improving, as well as addressing areas that are the cause of dissatisfaction for volunteers. You can access last years results from here

For the third year, the survey is being offered to volunteers from fire agencies across Australia. Please see below for details of the other State and Territory Fire Service surveys available.

 



2018 Volunteer Welfare and Efficiency Survey available to Fire Agency Volunteers from Across Australia

For the third year, the Volunteer Welfare and Efficiency Survey is being offered to volunteers from fire agencies from across Australia. They survey has been a success in Victoria since 2012 and is being offered to fire service volunteers again in 2018 through each state’s representative associations as part of the Council of Australian Volunteer Fire Associations (CAVFA).

The survey was developed by VFBV, to address a significant gap in the information available to the state’s decision maker, and over the years has been become an unmatched guide to trends in volunteer opinions.

The survey will take 10 – 15 minutes to complete and is open until close of business 22 October 2018.

To take part, click on your fire service below.

New South Wales

NSW Rural Fire Service Survey 

Queensland

Rural Fire Service Queensland Survey 

Tasmania

Tasmanian Fire Service Volunteers Survey 

Note Tasmanian Fire Service Retained Volunteers Association have elected to not take part this year, please contact TRVFA if you have any queries.

Victoria

Country Fire Authority Survey

Western Australia

Volunteer Fire and Rescue Service Survey 

 

The 7th annual, VFBV Volunteer Welfare and Efficiency Survey will open on Friday 31 August 2018 and run until 22 October 2018.

The survey continues to be an important and reliable method to capture the views of volunteers and track what has been achieved and is improving, as well as addressing areas that are the cause of dissatisfaction for volunteers.

Click here to register to receive the survey when it opens.

The VFBV Volunteer Welfare & Efficiency Survey is an annual snapshot of volunteer opinion, which includes 33 questions on issues chosen by volunteers. Each question asks you how important the issue is to you and how well you think CFA is performing. They survey takes around 10 – 15 minutes to complete.

Last year a record number of volunteers completed the survey with over 7,700 volunteers taking part through our interstate surveys. Your comments are confidential, but your input will assist VFBV, CFA and EMV to plan for the future.

Download a sign-up sheet at the bottom of this page and get your whole brigade or group registered to take part in the survey.


Snapshot of the 2017 VFBV Volunteer Welfare and Efficiency Survey Results

Survey Participation

  • The number of CFA respondents continues to be high (2,653) and statistically robust, and has been identified as a valid representation of the wider CFA volunteer population.
  • The highest percentage of female respondents (18%) since the survey commenced in 2012.
  • The demographics profile of respondents largely represents the overall CFA volunteering population. The only exception is the under-representation of volunteers with less than 1 year of service.
  • All CFA districts are represented in the responses.
  • There is only a small group of respondents who identify as being under 25 (approximately 3%). This is consistent with previous years.
  • 30% of all respondents provided additional comments to support or add to their views

Understanding the Survey Results

The survey using a Likert scale (a scale used to represent people’s attitudes to a topic) of 1 to 10 for the Importance that a particular factor represents for the respondent, and then the respondent’s view of Performance for that particular factor.

Determining the Gap and VolWEL Outcome

The relative measure of how closely performance meets the expectation of Importance, is referred to as the Gap. The illustration below, demonstrates the calculation of the Gap derived for each statement, which is then averaged to provide the Gap for each theme.

The Gap then determines the Volunteer Welfare and Efficiency Level (VolWEL) is a way that is easy to interpret and understand.

A high VolWEL outcome is a sign that things are not working well and that volunteer expectations are furthest from being met.

A low VolWEL outcome is a good sign that things are working well and indicates volunteer expectations are closer to being met.

Overall Results

The results from the 2017 VFBV Volunteer Welfare and Efficiency Survey are largely consistent with previous years – the areas that had the biggest gaps when the survey was introduced in 2012, are still areas causing the highest levels of dissatisfaction amongst volunteers – the areas where volunteer expectation are closest to being met, remain at this level.

Changes to results since 2016:

The VolWEL outcome has improved for the following themes:

  • Cooperation Across CFA
  • Training by CFA
  • Support From CFA

The VolWEL outcome has worsened for the following themes:

  • Respect and Professionalism
  • Recruitment and Retention
  • People Management – My Brigade

The VolWEL outcome has remained steady for My Role as a Volunteer theme. 

  • Members are most satisfied with their role and activities at brigade level
  • Members are least satisfied with activities which are the responsibility of CFA corporate / management level
  • The views on the performance of Training by CFA is the most improved of all themes – but still rates as one of the areas where there is the biggest gap between expectations and performance
  • Recruitment and Retention continues as one of the more positive areas, but results highlight the recruitment and retention of young volunteers as an ongoing concern
  • People Management – My Brigade received the highest scores for both importance and performance
  • Cooperation across CFA received the lowest scores for performance

Areas identified as in need of significant improvement

  • Volunteers do not feel they are effectively consulted in decision making at corporate level or regional level
  • CFA corporate policies and leadership do not support an effective volunteer based and fully integrated organisation
  • There is an issue with the lack of respect for volunteers by paid personnel, respect and value for the contribution of volunteers by CFA, and CFA does not do enough to promote community confidence in the role and professionalism of volunteers and their brigades
  • CFA does not provide enough training opportunities in formats, at times and at locations that make it easy to participate nor is it provided within a reasonable distance of the brigade
  • CFA does not support its workforce arrangements which allow paid staff and volunteers to work cooperatively as an integrated team. This is view least favourably by volunteer members of integrated brigades
  • Recruitment and retention, particularly retention, of younger volunteers continues to be a challenge for brigades.

Areas identified as performing well

  • There are no barriers to the roles women can occupy within a brigade
  • Diversity is accepted and welcomed at brigades
  • Volunteers are effectively consulted and involved in decision making at brigade level
  • Volunteers feel the time they devote to CFA is productive and worthwhile
  • There is a friendly environment within brigades, which welcomes new members and has good morale
  • New volunteers, are actively supported to allow them to turn out to incidents within a reasonable time of joining
  • New volunteers in non-response roles are actively supported to allow them to contribute within my brigade within a reasonable time of joining

Results by demographic

  • Volunteers who identify as being in a leadership role at a level broader then their brigade give higher importance scores in all areas, than brigade members and leaders within brigades
  • Overall, it appears volunteers in leadership roles at level broader than their brigade, are most satisfied with their role, however are more critical of performance, generally indicating a bigger gap between expectation and performance for the survey statements than was seen with brigade members or brigade leaders
  • Volunteers in brigade leadership roles are the most satisfied with activities at brigade level
  • Female respondents tend to give both higher importance and performance ratings than male peers. However, overall results when reviewed by the different gender categories the gap in meeting their expectations is similar.

The only exception being in the areas of equal opportunity, welcoming diversity and a lack of tolerance for bullying, where females had slightly lower levels of satisfaction.

  • Volunteer members of Integrated brigades had the biggest gap between expectations and performance when comparing their results with members of other brigade types. The only exception was for volunteer members of Urban brigades who indicated lower levels of satisfaction in relation to the location of, accessibility to and lack of opportunity for training
  • Members of Rural brigades appear to be the most satisfied across all areas of welfare and efficiency
  • A comparison between volunteers with different lengths of service history shows that the longer a volunteer remains with CFA, the bigger the gap between expectation and performance widens. Satisfaction continues to show improvement generally after 16 years of service
  • In previous surveys, the youngest cohort that responds (18 – 25 years of age) tended to be the most satisfied. Concerningly, this cohort in 2017 have the biggest gaps for the themes of Training by CFA, Recruitment and Retention and People Management – My Brigade, when compared with other age groups.

Overall Satisfaction

  • Overall satisfaction with CFA volunteer role continues to decline
  • Ratings for both intention to continue volunteering and recommending CFA to others has increased when compared with 2016 results
  • For all satisfaction related statements, Integrated brigade volunteer members rated satisfaction the lowest, compared to Rural and/or Urban brigade volunteer members

Motivation to volunteer

The 2017 results show there continues to be a shift in the reasons for volunteering. “A sense of fulfilment in supporting my community in a meaningful way” is the main reason for 33% of volunteers in 2017 compared with 46% in 2012.

“To help protect the community I live in” has continued to increase and in 2017 accounts as the main reason for volunteering for 61% of responding CFA volunteers – this is compared with 48% of volunteers in 2012.  

2017 Volunteer Welfare and Efficiency Survey – other fire and emergency management agencies

In 2017, volunteers with fire services from around Australia once again participated in the same welfare and efficiency survey, as did many other volunteer emergency management organisations in Victoria. Overall, including CFA participants, 7,714 volunteers took part.

The results for the 2017 Victorian Emergency Management Volunteer Welfare and Efficiency Survey and the results for fire services nationally are currently being presented to the agencies.

Job Opportunity - VFBV Policy & Advocacy Officer

  • Apply your policy, communications and public relations skills

  • Key Strategic Advocacy and Communications Role

  • Facilitate and Formulate Policy

About the Role:

VFBV is seeking to appoint a talented and motivated Policy and Advocacy Officer to work fulltime based at our Burwood East office.  This is a key role in our small VFBV team and involves broad ranging and rewarding work that supports and benefits our CFA Brigade members across Victoria. 

We are looking for a person to assist VFBV work with volunteers to undertake issues research and policy analysis; prepare issues papers, briefings, reports and submissions; to support VFBV to advocate and represent the views of volunteers to decisions makers, and to help our broader communication effort. 

You will undertake research and analysis on key issues impacting CFA volunteers and the emergency sector.  You will help VFBV keep abreast of views and needs of our volunteer members and assist in developing solutions and advocating to achieve optimal outcomes.   

About you:

The person we are looking for will have strong policy analytical and research skills along with strong verbal and written communication skills.  Relevant tertiary qualifications or experience in a related discipline such as public policy, industry analysis, industry research.  Excellent time management, interpersonal skills and the ability to establish and build relationships and work collaboratively with, and influence, a range of external and internal stakeholders is essential.

The successful applicant will need a solid understanding of CFA and volunteerism.  In addition, you will need to be a good listener, be able to navigate through complex issues resolution and have good critical thinking, written and verbal communications skills.  You must be a self starter and above all you will have a passion to improve arrangements that benefit the welfare and efficiency of CFA volunteers and all Victorians.  This is a full-time position giving the right candidate an opportunity to put a stamp on the VFBV of the future.

How to Apply:

All applications must include current resume and cover letter addressing key selection criteria outlined in the Position Description. 

A copy of the Position Description can be found here.

 

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. 

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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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