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Wednesday, 07 December 2016 17:10

2 Minute Briefing - Training

Issue 16: December 2016

Quick snapshot of the priority issues and actions worked through at the most recent Joint Committee meeting between CFA and VFBV. (Meeting held 20/11/2016)


The CFA Training department has again been restructured, with the Committee informed that Training has now been transferred to the F&EM (Fire & Emergency Management) directorate, and is now led by a Deputy Chief Officer - Training.

VFBV welcomes Acting DCO Gregg Paterson AFSM to the new position. Gregg brings energy and enthusiasm to the role and the Committee looks forward to working with him.


VFBV has been strongly advocating for CFA to commit to a remediation and recommissioning program for pumping pits, whose use was temporarily suspended back in February 2015. There are approximately 91 pumping pits in use across the state. Of vital importance is the need for pumping pits to be safe, and for there to be an efficient and timely program to clean, monitor water quality and ultimately recommission them for use.

For many brigades, pumping pits form the only safe, controlled and viable option for brigades to train in drafting and other related pump operations and skills maintenance.

CFA have now issued a Work Instruction on the Management of Pumping Pits, and have implemented an approved recommissioning process. CFA have advised that the ultimate decision to recommission and fund the cost of these works rests with the Region. Water testing costs between $300/$400, with the cost of cleaning and refilling to be approximately $1,000.

Delegates have raised concern that due to Regional budget limitations, these costs will be pushed back to Brigades. CFA’s advice to these concerns is that Brigades should go through the Chain of Command and ultimately to Assistant Chief Officers who hold oversight of the Regions.


The Committee continues to advocate for much greater access and support for members to attain chainsaw qualification and training. Despite two Mobile Chainsaw Training trailers developed through the Mobile Prop Project back in 2015 to add additional capability for members to access chainsaw training, a UFU grievance over the training package, equipment and trailer use and design has resulted in a yearlong ban on paid instructors using these trailers to deliver any chainsaw training, resulting in the widespread cancellation of CFA planned courses for volunteers. 

CFA advises that the IR issues are now close to being resolved, and has confirmed that there are no IR restrictions that relate to volunteer trainer and assessors accessing, towing and using the trailers.

Whilst disappointed that brigades are currently unable to access paid support and delivery of chainsaw courses through CFA’s training pool, the Committee has requested that CFA increase the number of endorsed volunteer trainer and assessors to deliver this training, so that brigades can access this vital training for the upcoming fire season. CFA has agreed to streamline and prioritize volunteer access to the new trailers, equipment and training package, as well as investigate an EOI process for subject matter experts to be identified and endorsed for volunteer training and delivery.


Despite significant work and progress on the design of an electrical safety mobile trailer prop back in 2014/15 CFA funding for the prop lapsed and is no longer available, leaving the project completely un-funded.   VFBV is advocating for these mobile props to be fully funded and reprioritized. Electrical Safety and specifically skills maintenance for Low Voltage Fuse Removal has been identified as a state-wide gap for quite some time, and the Committee believes the electrical safety mobile props would significantly improve capability and member access to this vital training and knowledge.


Early results from CFA’s new First Aid Training arrangements with St John appears to be positive, with great acceptance of the out-of-session course work that cuts down the course duration and allows students to do some of the course work at home and in their own time. Adjustments for postal delays is now being factored into future courses.

Published in Training Committee
Wednesday, 07 December 2016 17:07

2 Minute Briefing - Communications & Technology

Issue 16: December 2016

Quick snapshot of the priority issues and actions worked through at the most recent Joint Committee meeting between CFA and VFBV. (Meeting held 26/11/2016)


The Digital Scanner subsidisation program advocated by VFBV and run in partnership with CFA has been an overwhelming success, since it began in October 2015. So far, 10,478 digital scanners have been ordered and shipped to Brigades and Groups across the state.  The subsidy budget, and the savings to members, represents over $3 million dollars.

More than 970 Brigades and 80 Groups have placed and received their Tier 1 & 2 orders, and Tier 3 is still under way. Under the Tier 1 program, every Brigade was entitled to a minimum of eight units at the subsidised price.  On average, Brigades ordered 3.5 units under Tier 1, and Groups took up one of their guaranteed minimum of two units.  Under Tiers 1 and 2 members paid $150 for a scanner, with the subsidy budget paying the other $296.75

Scanners are still available: CFA is still accepting Tier 3 orders, from Brigades, Groups and individual members. Tier 3 units are available at cost price, which was significantly reduced due to the bulk orders placed during the subsidisation program.  Members can order units for $446.75 plus postage and handling, while stocks last.  Order forms are still available from the VFBV website.


Each quarter, the committee receives detailed reporting on the number of EAS Page observation reports submitted, including the type of issues reported, the length of time to investigate, and the results of each investigation. Encouragingly, since implementing this reporting cycle, the committee has observed a significant reduction in the time taken to resolve issues and the quality of reporting. Over the year, the 3 most common reported faults have been; not receiving messages (~38%), physical damage to the pager (~18%), and lost or stolen pagers (~10%).

Members are reminded of the importance of lodging EAS fault reports when they experience problems with their pagers. This information is critically important in identifying network performance issues as well as monitoring the health and status of the current pagers. The committee has requested that CFA investigate and prioritize the introduction of Electronic Observation Reports in addition to the current reporting option, which would provide more timely feedback to the member raising the concern. CFA has agreed to investigate, scope and report back.


For many years now VFBV and the Committee have been advocating for the Regional Mobile Radio Network to be expanded to cover the outer metropolitan districts. This network provides high quality digital P25 network capabilities and much improved radio audio quality. Under the Regional Radio Dispatch Service project announced back in 2013, the CFA network has been upgraded to the new digital network in all CFA districts excluding Districts 7, 8, 13 and 14 and has been a resounding success.

Unfortunately, these four Districts were not funded through RRDS and are still operating on the analogue dispatch network. Given these are amongst the busiest Districts in the state, the inability to access the digital dispatch network has far reaching consequences, one of them being these Districts will have no means to access improved functionality, such as the short status button functionality when it finally rolls out. Given the impact short status messaging will have on reducing radio congestion, this would provide a significant improvement to the busy outer metropolitan dispatch systems. In principle approval for expansion has now been announced, and CFA is now working with EMV, VicPol and SES in scoping a new project to potentially deliver on this commitment. VFBV welcomes this long awaited progress and will continue our advocacy to ensure the project receives adequate funding and government priority.   

Wednesday, 07 December 2016 17:03

2 Minute Briefing - Volunteerism

Issue 16: December 2016

Quick snapshot of the priority issues and actions worked through at the most recent Joint Committee meeting between CFA and VFBV. (Meeting held 20/11/2016)


The CFA Volunteerism department has again been restructured, with the Committee informed that the old Learning & Volunteerism directorate has been split, with training now being transferred to the F&EM (Fire & Emergency Management) directorate, and Volunteerism now merging with Strategy to form the new directorate of Volunteers & Strategy.

The Brigade Support Team has now been amalgamated with the Volunteerism team, with this team looking to focus on more field based staff connecting with brigades at the local level.  They will explore recruitment and re-engagement, brigade sustainability, decline and growth patterns across the state, hub and cooperative models, and community connectedness. 

The overall vision of the Volunteers and Strategy Team is to facilitate the growth of volunteerism and strengthen brigade sustainability. VFBV welcomes Executive Director John Haynes to the new position. John brings energy and enthusiasm to the role and the Committee looks forward to working with him. John’s vision is to look at more outcome based measurements, such as what we measure before, during and after fires – not just measuring performance based on time out the door.


CFA has released its Annual Plan for 2016-17 that outlines its priorities for this period. This year’s plan outlines the five priority plan themes for CFA during the 2016/17 year. The five themes are; Capability; Culture; Stakeholder Engagement; Strategy, Plan and Direction; and Systems and Processes.
 You can download a copy at; http://news.cfa.vic.gov.au/news/cfa-plan-a-must-read-for-all.html


Following reports of variances between CFA Regions and Districts in how volunteer travel reimbursements are paid and authorised, the committee has requested CFA develop a State-wide Business Rule that will standardise and clarify arrangements. VFBV’s long held policy is that no volunteer should be out of pocket due to their volunteering. The Committee continues to advocate for improved access to CFA vehicles – including corporate pool vehicles when required to travel for training or other CFA related activities that would otherwise create an impost or cost upon volunteers. Should an appropriate vehicle not be available, then volunteers should have access to travel reimbursement, which is currently set at $0.72 per km. CFA has agreed to progress a policy review.


A VFBV-supported project for secondary students has won the Education Award at this year’s Fire Awareness Awards, thanks to local CFA volunteers and the Maryborough Education Centre. The Emergency Services Journey takes Year 9 students to their local brigade, Police and ambulance station to see how each service operates and learn practical skills. What began as a Brigades in Schools program run by volunteers from the Maryborough Fire Brigade in 2004, has been developed into an innovative course at the Maryborough Education Centre by teacher, VFBV Board member and CFA volunteer Samantha Rothman.

The course also includes a camp in the Mallee and sessions at a surf life saving club, and the students achieve certificates in Life Saving skills and First Aid. The program includes team and confidence building, with activities like open water swimming and fire brigade competition events. The Emergency Services Journey program is funded by VFBV and the Maryborough Education Centre Principal David Sutton says the school is proud of the students for doing so well, and Samantha Rothman for her work in developing the program. Well done David, Samantha and the Maryborough Brigade!

Published in Volunteerism Committee
Wednesday, 07 December 2016 16:59

2 Minute Briefing - Equipment & Infrastructure

Issue 16: December 2016

Quick snapshot of the priority issues and actions worked through at the most recent Joint Committee meeting between CFA and VFBV. (Meeting held 19/11/2016)


For a number of years now, VFBV has been advocating for CFA to explore rear deck pods to trial as a possible replacement for rear deck ROPS, similar to those used in the mining industry. Ever since CFA’s decision to no longer manufacture rear deck ROPS and move exclusively to twin cab cab-chassis’, and the loss of DAH’s (Deck access hatches) volunteers have been raising concerns about the difficulty in accessing the rear deck area during jobs requiring crews to frequently move between the cab and the rear deck. The committee has been advocating for CFA to investigate the European body builders, where it has become common practice to purchase a single cab chassis and then build a crew area connected to the cabin as part of the body. This has a number of advantages including; that in a burn over situation all crew on the deck can quickly and safely return to the cabin; a reduction in crew fatigue across long fire-ground shifts; and greater safety when travelling to and from the fire ground and protection from smoke and embers.

The Committee was provided a tour and inspection of a Bell Engineering Heavy Tanker Pod Prototype, by Managing Director Robert Bell. The prototype is a ‘pod’ type construction which can be modified to slip onto any cab chassis. The ROP or rear cabin is fully self contained, very ‘roomy’ and has a large window with viewing access to the cabin and full size door access to the rear deck. A front mounted monitor, crew protection sprays, digital water level indicators on the sides as well as the back, ample storage lockers and an optional hydraulic BA lifter for easy operation are some of the great features. The Committee has requested that Bell Engineering consider loaning the prototype to CFA early next year so that a roadshow can be planned for members to view and inspect the prototype. Mr Bell has generously agreed, and VFBV extends its gratitude and appreciation to Mr Bell and the Bell Engineering Team, and congratulates them on their continued innovation, collaboration and support of Victorian fire services.


Following a presentation to the Committee earlier in the year from CFA’s Research & Development team, the Committee requested that CFA use this research to create a new burn-over training video that uses historical vision and vision from field testing filmed in February this year. The research team closely duplicated conditions similar to those experienced during the tragic Linton Fires in 1998 to test the response of CFA’s crew protection systems.

Three vehicles were tested, a tanker with ROP and crew protection, an Ultra-light with Gel coating and an Ultra light with foam coating. All vehicles were relatively unscathed with the temperature in the cabin of the tanker sitting at around 40 degrees whilst the outside temperature rose well above 600 degrees. The Committee has provided feedback on the new video, and has requested that a fact sheet be attached and be released along with SOP 9.32 ‘Entrapment Procedure’ for Brigades to use for their pre-summer training. CFA has released an online version on their facebook page.

This type of research is critical to ensuring firefighter safety and educating members on how the crew protection safety systems work, build confidence in those systems and the importance of situational awareness & entrapment procedures.


Arcadia Brigade members briefed the committee on a prototype cushion for use in vehicles with rear deck roll over protection. As many would have experienced, the solid fibreglass ROP seat can be hard on your back and very slippery when cornering. The cushions have multiple functions in regards to firefighter safety, back injury reduction and firefighter comfort on long duration shifts amongst them. The Committee has requested they be field tested by 3 brigades in district 22 and will also be offered for testing by brigades in other Districts over the summer whilst analysis is completed.

The Committee had previously authorised a VESEP grant to support the trial, and VFBV thanks the Arcadia Fire Brigade for this pro-active initiative. A proban, a nomex and a marine canvas version are being field and burn tested over the summer.

Wednesday, 07 December 2016 16:53

2 Minute Briefing - Community Safety

Issue 16: December 2016

Quick snapshot of the priority issues and actions worked through at the most recent Joint Committee meeting between CFA and VFBV. (Meeting held 26/11/2016)


For many years now VFBV has been advocating for a more holistic approach to planned burning, and for CFA to promote the training advantages of participating in planned burns.

The committee has been very pleased to observe that recent planned burns have developed into exercises, not just in fire behaviour and fuel load interactions but also extend to learnings in weather behaviour, impact on flora and fauna, bush heritage and Indigenous fire management practices.

The camps are very practical ‘hands on’ for all involved, each participant is specifically tasked with both coaching and mentoring roles, allowing involvement by volunteers across all aspects of the planned burning. Recent burn camps also saw attendances from Traditional Owners, Trust for Nature (landowners) bird scientists, along with DWELP, plantation owners and CFA paid staff.

The attendees worked well together and contributed experience and expertise, building valuable relationships and creating an atmosphere of co-operation in complex burn scenarios. These camps offer a great opportunity for volunteers to train in realistic settings and gain extensive fire firefighting experience.

The committee has requested CFA produce a brochure which clearly explains and illustrates upcoming Burn Camps to Brigades.


The joint CFA-SES community engagement forum was held at The Mantra in Lorne on 6th & 7th August, 2016.

The Forum is Victoria’s leading community safety conference for emergency service personnel and an opportunity for members to hear from both front line community safety educators but also leading community engagement specialists.

As well as the usual guest speakers, sessions and presentations, there were also outdoor displays by Coast Guard, CFA and SES, which were a resounding success. This year there were 481 attendees, 70% of those were CFA, 20% SES, this is a dramatic rise from 140 at the first forum in 2011. Volunteers from the North East and South East were very well represented with 65% of attendees coming from these two regions. The forum is growing in popularity and size.

The Committee will be reviewing the feedback provided by this year’s attendee’s and supports the continuation of this important forum. VFBV would like to recognize and congratulate the hard working members of the Volunteer Reference Group whose tireless energy and work helped to make this year’s event another resounding success.


Building on the success of last year’s campaign, CFA launched The Fire Safety Pledge to run between 3 November and 22 December.

Brigades are offered the chance to win one of three $1,000 cash prizes by encouraging members of their community to take the online “Fire Safety Pledge” at www.thefiresafetypledge.com.au

When members of the public make their pledge, they are asked to enter a local CFA brigade they wish to support. At the end of the competition, the brigade with the most number of pledges across the three different categories, will receive a cash prize of $1,000.

The categories are

1. Overall winner (brigade with the most votes)

2. Per-Capita – CFA brigade with the most votes relative to their population, and

3. Tiny Town – for brigades serving a population of less than 100 people.

As at 23 November (just three weeks into the initiative) 6,793 people have taken the pledge.

Any member of the public that takes the pledge will go into a draw to win one of four Samsung Galaxy Tablets or one of four $100 Bunning Gift Vouchers.

The friendly competition within Districts has begun with steep competition amongst seven of the top ten positions. Good Luck…..


Delegates reported to CFA they have received complaints and concerns from the community surrounding the change of the VicEmergency Hotline number from 1800 240 667 to 1800 226 226. The committee has requested that both numbers continue to work until people get used to the change. CFA advice is both numbers will continue for some time.

Wednesday, 07 December 2016 16:49

2 Minute Briefing - Operations

Issue 16: December 2016

Quick snapshot of the priority issues and actions worked through at the most recent Joint Committee meeting. (Meeting held 27/11/2016). Unfortunately, delegates were advised a few days before the meeting that the Chief Officer was not available to meet, so the Committee decided instead of cancelling the meeting, they would simply meet without CFA.


Having waited since 2012 for the most recent CFA review to strengthen the role of group, the Committee notes with disappointment the lack of progress or CFA leadership in the intervening time. Having lost confidence with CFA’s lack of response or support to this review, the Committee has endorsed a proposal for a volunteer led review of the Role of Group, with the intent to meet and gather feedback from all Groups across the State in order to arrive at a formal position that volunteers can then lead and advocate for across the Sector. This work will commence after the FDP and we will be seeking representatives from all Districts to help lead and coordinate a ground up discussion and review during 2017, with a view of driving this important reform. We will be using all the feedback received from CFA’s previous review as well as discussing the countless ideas and suggestions that arose from discussion during the last review but may have been rejected by CFA at the time for one reason or another.

In the previous review, VFBV advocated for;

  • Greater support and recognition from CFA to Groups and the Group structures in local command and control
  • Greater flexibility in how Groups can structure themselves to accommodate and respect local and regional differences and flexibility to match operating models to local risks. A ‘one size fits all’ model is not supported.
  • Strengthening the chain of command to empower and enhance the capability and capacity for local command and control being exercised by CFA members at the local level ensuring that local participation continues as incidents grow in size and complexity
  • Systems of work that recognize and enhance how Brigades, Groups, OO’s and RDO’s interact and support each other in Operational Readiness & Response, Training & Mentoring and Community Education
  • Strengthening the role of Groups in assisting Brigades building local capability for Incident Management and volunteer upskilling and mentoring for Level 2 and 3 incident management roles
  • Greater support and recognition of the important role of Group Comms including role, systems and processes in supporting local incidents and deployments and recognition in CAD processes and procedures of this vital role
  • Greater support and recognition of the important role Groups play in readiness, pre-incident planning & coordination, strike team resourcing & deployment, maintaining situational awareness and training delivery

All members will be provided an opportunity to share their ideas and thoughts, and VFBV will provide leadership, logistical and administrative support to allow local groups and districts to participate in structured discussions and share the information coming from neighbouring groups and districts across the State. If you would like to be involved in the early stages of the project, please contact VFBV at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or (03) 9886 1141 and we will record your details.


VFBV continues to support and advocate for a 40km speed limit for vehicles passing a stationary emergency service vehicle displaying their red and blue flashing lights.

VFBV’s long stated position has been that firefighters working alongside roads and highways when attending to incidents, are put at a significant health & safety risk by passing motorists, and 40km speed limits similar to those for road side workers should be pursued, along with strong public education campaigns to educate motorists of the dangers. The Committee continues to advocate for the establishment of new road rules that will protect all emergency service personnel when working on the side of roads and highways.


Published in Operations Committee

Issue 12: April 2015

A quick snapshot of the priority issues and actions worked through at the most recent Joint Committee meeting between CFA and VFBV. (Meeting held 22/03/15)


The CFA Volunteer Strategy has now been endorsed by the CFA Board, following the final round of field consultation. All members are encouraged to read and familiarize themselves with this important strategy that lays down the foundations of how everyone within CFA will work towards ensuring the future capability of community based volunteer emergency services remains strong, whilst encouraging, maintaining and strengthening the capacity of volunteers.

Now that the Strategy is completed, VFBV has requested that CFA build an action plan to measure and report on key performance indicators against the strategy. This will ensure that the strategy becomes a living document, and not just collecting dust on someone’s bookshelf. CFA has advised they are now preparing an implementation strategy, and delegates have emphasized the importance of using the Chief Officer’s Chain of Command to both inform and deliver the implementation down to the District level. Implementation plans are due to be signed off by June 30 this year.


As of 18 February 2015, junior members have been able to apply for personal ID cards. The cards are used to identify junior members when participating in CFA-related activities and feature a similar design to the current member ID card, except it is blue instead of orange. Junior members can apply for their card online via their Brigade, with the Member ID Card system being available on Brigades Online; and cards will be posted to them within 4 weeks of application. The cards expire on the member’s sixteenth birthday, when they will be invited to apply for their senior membership.

A new guidebook has also been released, which contains information on the establishment, management and resourcing of junior brigades and is accompanied by application forms for new brigades, junior leaders and junior members. Personal Protective clothing comprising helmet and gloves is also now available for junior brigades to complement the existing junior uniform. Orders can be placed online and delivered to brigades at no extra cost.

Further information can be requested through your District Office, or contacting the JVDP Team within OT&V at HQ.


The analysis and final report from last year’s VFBV Volunteer Welfare & Efficiency Survey has now been sent to all participants of the survey. A printed copy of the results will also be going out to all Brigades in our next mail out. An electronic copy of the results is available from the VFBV website.

Now in its third year, the survey is an important indicator as to how volunteers feel across a range of matters. Delegates have requested that CFA work with the committee to identify key result area’s that could be addressed, and a proactive plan put in place to drive improvement and narrow the gaps between those issues identified in the survey as underperforming. To take part in the 2015 survey, click here to register and you will receive the survey when it opens.


The Committee has received a request for it to deliberate on a suggestion that junior member service history (years served) be recorded and included as part of a Senior members service history, when awarding CFA service medals. The committee has requested CFA investigate the legal implications (via the CFA regulations) and also an environmental scan as to what other jurisdictions/States do. The Committee will be engaging in wider consultation as this issue progresses, to identify pros and cons, with a recommendation (either for or against) to go to State Council later this year.

Published in Volunteerism Committee

Issue 12: April 2015

A quick snapshot of the priority issues and actions worked through at the most recent Joint Committee meeting between CFA and VFBV. (Meeting held 22/03/15)


CFA has advised that an audit of the state requirements for driver training and of the current pool of available driver trainers will be completed by the end of March 2015.

Vic Roads has indicated to CFA that minor changes to the current driver training course to incorporate a section on load securing would potentially halve the licence test time for volunteers and contribute to a cost saving in licence testing fees.

Vic Roads have also indicated that further changes could see CFA conducting the licence testing themselves, therefore only requiring the successful candidate to present CFA authorisation to Vic Roads to receive a licence. CFA will investigate these options and determine a phased approach to improving the driver training and testing process for members.

The delegates see this as a positive and requested CFA to move forward with improving the process so that more CFA volunteers can access driver training and assessment.


The completed ‘Respond to Urban Fire’ training package, now known as the ‘Structural Firefighting’ package will be formally handed over to Structural Instructors by the end of March 2015 and structural instructors will then hand the package over to Districts for delivery planning.

Given the expected demand for this package and potential impact on CFA training budgets, VFBV has requested that CFA monitor demand and provide a regular report back to the Joint Training Committee on course demand and delivery per District, including the use of volunteer trainers and assessors.


CFA has advised that volunteer access to the training facilities at Craigieburn is challenging in the current environment, with the new joint CFA/MFB recruit courses now running on a ‘4 on – 4 off’ shift rotation using most of the available facility capability and occurring across weekends.

The meeting discussed the many challenges that will need to be addressed. VFBV delegates ask why there are blockages to the use of CFA instructors at Craigieburn and the current cost structure for CFA use of the facility for both recruit courses and volunteer training and exercise opportunities.

In light of the recent closure of Fiskville and the various public announcements that CFA volunteers will be trained at Craigieburn, VFBV will be seeking a regular report from CFA on the type and number of courses, number of brigades and volunteers attending and the total training hours per month made available to CFA volunteers at Craigieburn.


The CFA Operational Training Guide is completed and will be distributed shortly. The guide is designed to support members involved in the planning, coordinating and conducting of training. The guide also provides references and links to training material available online. VFBV and CFA managed a significant volunteer consultation process that has resulted in an excellent outcome.

VFBV and CFA both wish to thank the volunteers who contributed to this project.

Published in Training Committee

Issue 12: April 2015

A quick snapshot of the priority issues and actions worked through at the most recent Joint Committee meeting between CFA and VFBV.


The Committee received an update on the progress of consultation of the CFA Service Delivery Strategy being conducted by CFA’s Fire & Emergency Management directorate.

The Service Delivery Strategy will drive CFA efforts to make changes to support local people to solve local problems, and its intent is to focus on public safety at CFA’s core. The strategy is a clear mandate for every member of CFA to take a role in service delivery, whether through the delivery of services directly to the community, or the provision of support services to frontline members.

The Service Delivery Strategy identifies four strategic objectives. These are explained as comprising the major focus areas to lead the change required to build an agile, service focussed organisation, and are; Empowering & sustaining the frontline | Transforming service delivery to meet local needs | Working with communities | Strengthening relationships through collaboration.

Members are encouraged to engage in the consultation sessions occurring throughout the State, and/or speak with your OO or OM on how you can be involved. A copy of the Draft Strategy is available from the CFA website, Brigades Online.


Have you observed any problems, shortfalls or successes that you would like to share? Do you have a lesson to share, so others can learn? Your lesson could be a success, a way of doing things in a more efficient or safer way, a close call... anything others could learn from.

Members are reminded that there is an online sharing tool designed to capture member feedback. It is designed so members do not have to wait for an official or formal debrief process in order to capture or submit observations about things that worked well or didn’t work well at an incident, deployment, or campaign fire.

Members are strongly encouraged to use this tool to raise issues experienced with deployments or strike team duties. You can access it from Brigades Online by searching for “Observation sharing centre”.


The Committee continues to advocate on the need for CFA to better support and encourage volunteer access to IMT training courses. A report to the Committee indicates that throughout 2014 there were 92 IMT course/activities, of which 32 were formal IMT training courses. Over that same period, the report shows only 81 volunteers completed and graduated from one of the 13 Incident Management Common Training Packages. The Committee has requested the reporting of IMT training to be a standing item, and has requested renewed effort to help identify greater and more reasonable opportunities for volunteers to access this training.


The Committee was disappointed to learn that CFA was not intending to distribute the printed copies of last year’s Role of Group handbook that was produced and developed from the Role of Group Review. The Committee was advised that whilst the books had been printed and were ready for distribution, that CFA no longer supports aspects of the document. The Role of Group Working Party has requested an urgent meeting with the Chief Officer to understand what has changed, the reasons behind those changes and why it is no longer supported.

Published in Operations Committee

Issue 12: April 2015

A quick snapshot of the priority issues and actions worked through at the most recent Joint Committee meeting between CFA and VFBV. (Meeting held 12/04/15)


The results of the 2014 VFBV Welfare and Efficiency Survey have been analysed and the report released. The report contains a great deal of information on issues affecting the Welfare & Efficiency of CFA volunteers across the state. As in previous years the 2014 data has been compared to previous years to determine trends and changes. Some of the areas of particular note from the 2014 survey include: 1/Training – This issue remains the most important one for CFA volunteers and is the issue least meeting volunteer expectations. 2/Variation of volunteer experience between Brigades – CFA Volunteers at Integrated Brigades were more concerned with issues related to people management, cooperation, respect and professionalism, indicating that these issues require further attention in these brigades.   3/ Equity, Diversity & Workplace Behaviour – this area indicated differences in response between Male & Female as to the level of importance of these issues and also how they were handled at Brigade, District & Corporate levels within CFA.

It is pleasing to see that 80% of survey respondents are satisfied with their role as a CFA volunteer and that 87% intend to continue their membership. However only 59% of volunteers are satisfied with the way they are treated by CFA. This comparatively low satisfaction score suggests that the greatest potential impact on future volunteer welfare & efficiency sits with CFA in the success or otherwise of their partnerships with brigades.

The results of this survey are closely examined by Government and CFA (Board, Regional and District level). A detailed hard copy of the report which analyses the survey results is being mailed to each brigade in the quarterly VFBV mail out. Alternatively a copy can be found on the VFBV website: www.vfbv.com.au

The results of the VFBV Welfare & Efficiency survey are used by VFBV to bring the frontline volunteers’ opinions and advice on matters that affect their welfare and efficiency direct to the State’s decision makers. Your opinion matters, so please register to have the 2015 survey sent to you as soon as it is available.

Registrations for the 2015 VFBV Welfare & Efficiency Survey are now open, and you can register for the survey by going to the VFBV website, or emailing your name, district and email address to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. Alternatively, a hard copy can be mailed to volunteers by contacting the VFBV Office Ph 03 9886 1141.


The CFA Values Review is a key component of the CFA Broader Culture Program. Its aim is to clearly articulate the “do’s” and “don’ts” within the organisation, and provide a framework for how we treat one another and our community.

Commencing October 2014, CFA embarked on a consultation process across HQ and the Regions to review the organisational values, with the aim being to identify three to five values that could unify us in the way we work and how we serve our communities.

Following feedback, CFA is now considering the following five organisational values; Safety, Together, Adaptive, Integrity and Respect.

The Committee was advised that CFA is now developing a plan to articulate and monitor the multiple efforts to embed these new values. Further information explaining these values and the way in which they will be applied will be communicated by CFA in the coming months. The Committee has requested that more effort be made to communicate directly with members and brigades, as feedback suggests many members are still unaware that this work was going on.

Issue 12: April 2015

A quick snapshot of the priority issues and actions worked through at the most recent Joint Committee meeting between CFA and VFBV. (Meeting held 21/03/15)


The committee was advised by CFA that the DMOs had identified a number of vehicles that were damaged throughout the year but the damage had not been reported. The damage was only picked up when they went in for their annual service. It was later found that this damage occurred at a major incident. Major incidents are declared internally by agreement between CFA and Government, and is used to reimburse CFA of costs incurred during major incidents which is above and beyond normal business. Brigades are reminded of the importance of reporting any damage incurred to a vehicle as soon as it happens. In the case of major incidents – this damage is covered by the major incident insurance, and not CFA – thus if damage is not reported until after the major incident reporting case is closed by Government, it can no longer be claimed back through the major incident, and has to be picked up by CFA which impacts local budgeting.

2015 VESEP Program

The Minister announced the opening of the 2015/16 program on Monday 16 March. Applications are due to your Operations Manager by 27th April.

VFBV developed and posted a VFBV Application Help Pack to every Brigade and Group on the 20th March. This pack has been designed to provide advice and tips to Brigades in completing a successful VESEP application. Brigades who were not ready for this year’s program are encouraged to start preparing for next year’s round now, while it is still fresh and on your mind.

Successful applications are expected to be announced by the Minister late July 2015.


The committee inspected the 2015 Heavy Tanker prototype, which is due to go on its State-wide roadshow tour between March through to May 2015. The new prototype is a 4,000 litre Iveco crew cab, with a 2 stage Isuzu water cooled diesel engine pump rated at 1,200 lpm @ 700kpa.

Based on the successful roadshow tours of the Medium Tanker a couple of years ago, and the Medium Pumper earlier this year, Brigades are encouraged to attend these roadshow visits, to provide feedback and commentary on the prototype. All feedback from the roadshow is documented and reviewed by the Committee in order to inform the final build, so your comments and feedback are extremely valuable and important.

For a list of dates and locations for when it will be in your patch, please contact your Operations Manager or ACO.


The committee has flagged with CFA its intent to conduct a major review of current Fire Station designs and the process that is followed with Brigades during the design and consultation stages throughout the build. VFBV continues to receive a number of complaints about new builds, and the intent of the review is to examine if these are just isolated problems, or larger more systemic issues that might require more attention. CFA delegates to the committee have expressed their support to be involved in the review and the committee has agreed to proceed jointly, with a workshop with CFA Land and Buildings staff scheduled for the next meeting to kick off the process. Updates will be provided as the review progresses. Any Brigades who have recently been involved in a new Station build, are encouraged to discuss your experience with your local State councillor or Committee delegate, so as to help inform the review.

Issue 12: April 2015

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


Approximately 600 Brigades this year will be electing a Community Safety Co-ordinator to the BMT for the first time. This role is supported by a comprehensive Toolkit that covers everything a new or even an experienced Community Safety Co-ordinator will need. The Toolkit contains a CD and other printed information that talks about what the role entails within your brigade and provides members with templates, which allow you to simply ‘fill in the blank spaces”, a guide to Social Media, explaining everything from Facebook to Twitter in clear, easy to understand language and it also contains resources from Fire Safe Kids to Vegetation Management. You can build this toolkit to include items particular to your brigade and it can become a useful resource for all brigade members. The Toolkit is available from your District Office via your Manager Community Safety.


This year the annual CFA Community engagement forum is joining up with SES, and will be run jointly and open to both CFA and SES members. This year’s forum is being held at Novotel Forest Resort at Creswick on 1st and 2nd of August, 2015. The forum is open to members who undertake community engagement initiatives within their brigades, like working with and educating their communities and those who want to learn about and share local community engagement initiatives with other CFA and SES members, as well as experts in the field. This is a wonderful opportunity for members to showcase their inventive and innovative ideas to an enthusiastic and appreciative audience.


CFA provided feedback regarding volunteer participation in recent planned burns at Tynong. The committee was very pleased to hear high praise for our volunteer participants. This was a well-run burn and a great experience for all concerned. The feedback spoke about, not only the high level of experience and expertise our volunteers brought to the operation but the enthusiasm and abundance of information they were able to share with other participants. This congeniality and partnership building left a profound and lasting impression.

Members are encouraged to keep an eye out for future burn camps, and discuss your Brigade’s involvement. They are a great learning opportunity, and provide a great opportunity to study fire behaviour and fuel load interactions.


Following feedback from Managers Community Safety that many Brigades are involved in Community Events but they are not always known about, CFA has developed a web portal that makes it easy for Brigades to record and report their community engagement activities via their smartphone or tablets.

The portal is called the “Brigades Events & Activity Reporting Tool” with information on its download and use available on Brigades Online. Search for Brigade Activities.

The instructions run members through a step by step process to access the ‘Brigades Events & Activity Reporting Tool” and create a shortcut on your smartphone. If members find these instructions difficult to follow or would like some assistance, they can speak to their BASO’s or Managers Community Safety, as they will be trained in using the portal. Another easy way for Brigades to report their event is to simply record themselves on a mobile phone at the event explaining what the event is and send the video to your Manager Community Safety, and they will record the event for you.

Issue 12: April 2015

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


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


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


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

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


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

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

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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