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SEEKING PUBLIC DONATIONS - DONATE VIA MYCAUSE cheque or bank deposit

Volunteer Fire Brigades Victoria has launched a crowdfunding campaign to give the public the chance to support the work we are doing to protect, advocate and represent CFA volunteers, including our Supreme Court action.

The campaign ‘Supporting and Valuing our CFA Volunteers’ is now live on Australian crowdfunding platform, mycause at www.mycause.com.au/cfa

  

To donate by cheque:

Cheques should be made out to:

VFBV – Valuing Volunteers Fund

And posted to:

VFBV

PO Box 453

Mt Waverley Vic. 3151

You can also donate via Direct Deposit to this account:

Account Name: Valuing Volunteers Fund
BSB: 633000 (Bendigo Bank)
Account Number: 157 728 221

As you know, VFBV is fighting to maintain CFA as a volunteer based and fully integrated fire and emergency service with employees fully integrated with volunteers to provide seamless public safety services to Victorians. This is what CFA is under our CFA Act.

The community volunteer nature of CFA is under attack from the industrial deal done by the Andrews Victorian Government and Peter Marshall of the United Firefighters Union. The deal negatively impacts on CFA as a volunteer based and fully integrated organisation, its operations and support for volunteers including consultation.

It is an attempt to change the nature of CFA by using an anomaly in the Commonwealth Workplace Relations Act which enables an EBA to override state legislation once the EBA is registered by the Commonwealth Fair Work Commission.

The Supreme Court trial on the lawfulness of the new CFA Board adopting the proposed CFA/UFU Enterprise Bargaining Agreement will begin on 22 September 2016 and should run for up to five days.

The CFA/United Firefighters Union Enterprise Bargaining Agreement, approved by the new government-appointed CFA Board, would see:

• The powers of the Chief Officer overridden;
• The union given power of veto on issues affecting volunteer based and fully integrated organisation, operations and support;
• Restrictions in the EBA on effective volunteer consultation rights under the CFA Volunteer Charter;
• Other clauses that are contrary to the CFA Act, and
• Volunteers treated as second class just because they are not paid.

Only Volunteer Fire Brigades Victoria is left to defend CFA from the deal and its detrimental effect for CFA services to the Victorian public.

The Emergency Services Minister Jane Garrett shared our volunteer concerns, refused to support the deal and resigned in June. The CFA Board that was opposing the deal was sacked by the Andrews Government. The CEO, Lucinda Nolan and Chief Officer, Joe Buffone subsequently resigned in protest over the deal. The current CFA Board and administration are failing to stand up for CFA volunteers and kow-towing to unlawful UFU demands.

The campaign, particularly through the courts, costs money. Volunteer Fire Brigades Victoria does not intend to use government grant funds or individual brigade affiliation fees to pay for the campaign, so we are asking the community that we serve to support us. This funding will be used to pay for Supreme Court and other action to preserve and protect the powers of the CFA Act.

VFBV and volunteers have made it very clear that we are not against our paid colleagues and have no interest in interfering in their legitimate pay and conditions.

Our vision is for CFA to be a modern and contemporary emergency service where volunteers and paid staff work side by side as equals and respect one another.

Encouraging, maintaining and strengthening the capacity of volunteers is vitally important for Victoria, and we are calling on those who value the capacity, determination and service of the volunteers to please support our campaign in the Supreme Court on September 22 by donating to our campaign on mycause.

Members of the public can learn more and make a donation online here.

See the media release here.

Published in HomePage Featured
Friday, 29 July 2016 00:00

2016 Fire Awareness Awards

The 2016 Fire Awareness Awards are now open to anyone who has implemented a project or program over the last two years that helps reduce the effect of fire in Victoria. 

Projects can focus on any fire type, including structure (housing, commercial, industrial) fires, bushfires or grass fires. 

Community categories: Access and Inclusion, Community-led Prevention, Community-led Preparedness, Education, Innovation and Design, Recovery

Long-standing supporter of the awards, RACV Insurance provides a $10,000 Award for Excellence to the most outstanding project. 

Entries close 15 September 2016

For more information about the 2016 Fire Awareness Awards visit www.fireawarenessawards.com.au, email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or follow via Facebook and Twitter

Published in Other News
Wednesday, 09 March 2016 00:00

VFBV’s Fire Wise Page – March 2016

<Download page as PDF>

FIRE WISE: SHARING AND BUILDING KNOWLEDGE

By Andrew Ford, VFBV Chief Executive Officer

It won’t have been missed by most of you that there has been a name change to this important publication.

Some people might struggle with this I know, others will love it, and some won’t care – what’s in a name, some might say.

So what’s in the name? In the past and certainly into the future, this publication is one of the many important channels for information to be passed on, for first hand stories to be shared in order that we collectively learn, pass on knowledge, and as the name suggests, get wiser.

In CFA we talk a lot about the value of local knowledge, of organisational memory, and of the invaluable practical knowhow that comes from years of on ground experience.

In today’s dynamic world the value and importance of learning and gaining knowledge through the passing down of stories and first hand experiences should not be underestimated.

Talking with a Sector Commander after one of our recent big fires, he reflected on the gratitude of local community members (and many of these were relative newcomers) and their thankfulness that the CFA “just knew how the fire would behave”, “knew what to do” and “seemed amazingly calm” despite it being years since that community had experienced such a severe fire.

The training and experience of volunteers on that fireground was abundantly clear but there was also a deeper knowledge and inherited memory of the way things would pan out that made an enormous difference to achieving the terrific outcome and the Sector Commander reflected on the dozens of stories that had been shared down through time that built their collective knowledge.

So what’s in the name – Fire Wise – a vital communication tool to share information and stories so that we can build capability, celebrate, remember and learn.

Congratulations on being decisive enough to take the step Gordon, and I look forward to the value and role of this publication being widely recognised into the future.

CFA RED PAPER

Elsewhere on this page, you will see details of CFA’s Red Paper, and I urge you to see this as a great opportunity to shape CFA’s future direction.

One of the things of most concern to VFBV and volunteers in recent years is that external factors have too often overridden CFA’s setting of its own priorities.

VFBV’s detailed submission to the State Government’s Fire Services Review plus many previous VFBV submissions are already a key part of volunteer input to the Red Paper, and I urge you to have your say as both a contribution to the outcome and a form of support for this proactive decision making by CFA.

 

RED PAPER

We encourage every volunteer to take CFA’s Red Paper survey online – member input is open until 27 March and the survey consists of three questions.

While many volunteers feel CFA has been heavily scrutinised, reviewed and subjected to any number of external inquiries in recent years, the Red Paper is about CFA making its own decisions and setting its own path for the coming 10 years.

Naturally, practical input from volunteers on the front line is essential.

CFA says the Red Paper will inform its engagement with its stakeholders and Government about future investment, and give it authoritative evidence about what it needs and why; from fire trucks and stations, to new front line or support staff, community programs, technology innovation and research.

The survey asks three questions about; how the risks faced by communities will change, the changes CFA needs to make and what CFA should focus on achieving over the next 10 years.

You can find the Red Paper survey at http://cfa.engagementhq.com/red-paper

 

TATURA’S TRIPLE SUCCESS

Hosts Tatura have won their third VFBV Urban Junior Championships in a row, with an impressive performance, taking the Dry, Wet and Under 14 Aggregates to win the Grand Aggregate by a clear margin.

At the end of the day, Tatura A came home with 89 points, leading Sale A with 41 and Moe A with 37 points.

Moe A and Sale A also appeared in the top three in most of the Aggregates, and other strong performers were Koo Wee Rup A and Melton A.

The championships attracted more than 700 competitors in 79 teams representing 47 Brigades from all over Victoria and two from Western Australia.

You can download full results here, or for more stories from the championships, see page 11 of the March 2016 edition of Fire Wise.

 

CANCER LAW: DON’T STOP NOW

Proposed presumptive legislation – the Firefighters’ Cancer Law – is something we anticipate will be in Parliament soon, but there are still unresolved questions, and now is the time to make sure your local MPs fully understand the issue of possible discrimination against volunteers.

Our main concern is that the legislation may contain a barrier to volunteers accessing compensation, in the form of an arbitrary ‘incident threshold’ - possibly requiring 150 incidents in any five-year period before they become eligible.

The arbitrary nature of the ‘incident threshold’ is seen by volunteers simply as a way to drastically reduce the number of volunteers who will become eligible.

We are also concerned the Government is yet to finalise the legislation and whether or not commitments to treat CFA volunteers equally with career fire fighters will be maintained.

VFBV has sent a letter and supporting information to your Brigade Captains, Secretaries and VFBV Delegates, and you are encouraged to discuss the concerns with your Brigade and take them up with Government MPs that cover your area as soon as possible.

Approaching local MPs is not difficult, and can range from a formal letter to a simple email, a chat at a local event, or a letter or story in your local newspaper.

The legislation is due soon, don’t wait until you know a firefighter with cancer or flawed legislation is passed, speak up now.

There is more information at www.vfbv.com.au

 

YOUTH NETWORK

The VFBV Youth Network will shortly begin to recruit young people in each District.

It is a key initiative for the year and will give younger volunteers a permanent place in VFBV’s decision making at local and state levels.

Each District Panel will be made up of five to 10 young volunteers aged 18 to 35 years who will send a representative to a VFBV State Youth Advisory Committee that will inform the VFBV Board and State Council.

The District Panels will deal with issues from a youth perspective, not just youth specific issues, and like the existing VFBV District Councils, each District Panel will work to resolve issues at the local level wherever possible, as well as raising statewide matters at state level.

We are now recruiting local champions in each District to support our young people and start identifying and inviting those young people to be involved as potential youth representatives.

 

GREAT NEWS ON SCANNERS

VFBV, with the support of CFA, has secured extra funding for more subsidised digital scanners for Brigades and Groups.

All Tier 1 orders have been dispatched to Brigades and Groups, and those who placed Tier 2 orders for any remaining units will now receive their full order, rather than a share of any that were left over after Tier 1.

Brigades with Tier 2 orders have been sent notification and have until 15 May to send in their payment for the additional subsidised units.

Over 7,000 scanners have already been delivered under the VESEP funded scheme negotiated by VFBV and CFA.

VFBV first raised the need for a subsidy scheme in 2010, with a survey that revealed thousands of scanners and listening sets that would become obsolete when CFA radio channels switched to digital technology.

 

VOLUNTEER VIDEO FOR THE COMMUNITY

VFBV’s clever animated video is getting a great reception. It has now been viewed an estimated 50,000 times online and will be available soon from your District Council for use in local presentations.

The video tells the story in simple pictures about the huge volunteer surge capacity that allows CFA to call on thousands of trained, experienced firefighters at any time, the professional levels of training and the wide range of roles that volunteers perform.

Your District Council will soon receive copies of the video on USB memory stick, for use by Brigades planning open days, public events, community information meetings or discussions with local Members of Parliament, Councils and other decision makers.

If you haven’t seen the video, visit www.youtube.com/user/vfbvtv

 

ULTRALIGHT PROTECTION SYSTEMS

The VFBV/CFA Joint Equipment & Infrastructure Committee is investigating crew protection systems for CFA’s light vehicles.

There are over 150 ultra-light tankers and slip-on vehicles that were not covered under the crew protection system retrofit due to a lack of a suitable system.

Two new products designed to provide protection against radiant heat and direct flame contact in the event of a burn-over are now being evaluated; a Polymer Gel System and a Compressed Air Foam System.

Both products have shown promising early signs, with experimental testing during field burn-overs in moderate bushfire intensity conditions planned for early autumn 2016.

The committee will keep you updated.

 

SURVEY COMING SOON

Register now for the 2016 VFBV Volunteer Welfare & Efficiency Survey.

A record 2,500 volunteers took part last year, and the new VICSES version of the survey achieved success in its first year.

The detailed 2015 survey report will be out soon, taking volunteers’ opinions and comments to VFBV and CFA Boards, CFA’s senior management, VICSES, the Emergency Management Commissioner and the Minister for Emergency Services.

Each year’s results are compared with previous years' figures to show trends in how volunteers feel on each issue.

It is a co-operative process; VFBV and the CFA Board have studied successive years' results and continue to use the survey to highlight aspects of volunteer support that need attention.

Sign up by sending your name, Brigade/Unit and District or Region to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or request a posted survey on paper on (03) 9886 1141.

 

D13 PRESIDENT MOVES ON

VFBV District 13 President Bill Watson AFSM has stepped down from the role after distinguished service to the volunteers and career staff of the District.

Bill has retired and is moving to Wonthaggi, where he has volunteered in the past, and will continue his volunteering with CFA and his support of VFBV.

At District 13, Bill has shown strong leadership on the Firefighters’ Cancer Law issue and all aspects of the welfare of volunteers.

While his operational commitment has been exceptional, he has truly made his mark as a networker who has reached out to those volunteer families struggling in the aftermath of fires, drought and floods, and was recognised with CFA’s Outstanding Service Medal for his work in the wake of the 2009 fires.

    

WELFARE PATROL

In the wake of the major fires of summer, VFBV delegates, officials and Board Members have been hard at work, meeting with Brigades in the affected areas and conducting welfare checks on individual volunteers.

We have also posted a fresh list of government support services for people affected by bushfires and other natural disasters, on the VFBV web-site at www.vfbv.com.au

If you are in need of practical assistance or could use a sympathetic ear, don’t forget that CFA Peer Support is available through your CFA District Office, contact your VFBV State Councillor or talk to your own Brigade.

 

THE LATEST NEWS

Get the latest in our email newsletter or VFBV’s popular Two Minute Briefing from the VFBV/CFA Joint Committees.

Register at www.vfbv.com.au - click on the VFBV Newsletter box.

Join the discussion on our Facebook page at www.facebook.com/cfavol or follow us on Twitter at www.twitter.com/vfbv or on Instagram @volunteer_fire_brigades_vic

 

Published in VFBV News

Updated 18 December 2015 with a special VFBV Message to Volunteers

VFBV Message to Volunteers

Many of you will be aware that the release of the Fire Services Review report and the State Government’s response have been postponed until after the bushfire season.

Minister for Emergency Services Jane Garrett will now lead a working group of Ministers to study the Review’s findings in depth and report back to the Government.

VFBV acknowledges that many volunteers are frustrated with the delay and we certainly share their feelings of disappointment. However, given that we are already into what is clearly going to be a long and busy summer, I suggest we take the opportunity to get on with the job at hand and concentrate on the important work of protecting the community.

When the Review’s report does become public, volunteers will need to be ready to have their say. By visiting www.vfbv.com.au you can see our submission and VFBV’s September 28 letter to the Minister and all MPs, outlining the key issues of concern. I encourage each of you to read them and discuss your thoughts with your fellow volunteers. 

Also in September, VFBV requested a meeting with the Minister to discuss issues coming out of the Fire Services Review before any decisions affecting volunteers are made. The Minister offered to meet with us after the report has been presented, and with its release newly postponed I will make another request that we meet and discuss the issues at the earliest opportunity.

GENDER EQUITY AND WORKPLACE CULTURE

The Government has also announced that the Victorian Equal Opportunity and Human Rights Commissioner will examine issues around gender equity and workplace culture in Victoria’s emergency services, and I very strongly encourage all VFBV delegates to show leadership in actively welcoming and engaging in this work. Support for greater diversity in CFA is something VFBV has recognised as a real opportunity, and where there are gaps, an area warranting concerted effort to achieve improvement.

Any move towards encouraging greater diversity with regard to gender, cultures and ages in CFA, is something that will strengthen Brigades’ connections with the communities we protect and increase the pool of potential volunteers.

Minister Garrett has expressed concern that only 3% of CFA and MFB operational staff are women. In comparison, approximately 20% of all CFA volunteers are women and nearly 5,000 of those volunteer women are operational members.

I am assuming the activation of this work to examine issues around gender equity and workplace culture has been identified during the Fire Services Review, and we have already seen the Jones Inquiry into the effect of arrangements made by the Country Fire Authority on its Volunteers identifying culture and human resource management issues requiring attention.

Judge David Jones noted in his report that “CFA culture, leadership and human resource management are keys to maintaining and strengthening the community’s understanding of, confidence in, support for and active participation in the volunteer based emergency service model for Victoria, which is consequently fundamental to the future success of the CFA”.

Judge Jones also observed that “Improving leadership in CFA from top to bottom is key to the success of the CFA integrated model – this cannot be over emphasised and is one of CFA’s biggest challenges”.

The annual VFBV Volunteer Welfare & Efficiency Survey has also asked volunteers for their opinions on diversity and workplace culture issues, and found they strongly desire an environment in CFA that welcomes people from all cultural backgrounds as well as different religious, political and personal beliefs; actively discourages workplace bullying; and ensures that there are no barriers to the roles women can occupy in Brigades.

The 2015 survey results show that although CFA performance in this area is scored comparatively well against other areas, it still needs attention. The results showed that female volunteers saw a greater gap between the importance of equity and diversity issues and CFA’s actual performance.

CFA VOLUNTEERS; READY FOR SUMMER

With the fire season well and truly here, and considering many parts of the state have already been extremely busy with large and serious incidents, my message to the Minister has been that the CFA and Emergency Management sector need to be supported in focusing on the immediate task of protecting the community.

Many volunteers have expressed frustration that CFA is in an era of review upon review, but we must not let this damage the spirit of CFA or the professional standards of protection we provide to the community every day and night of the year.

We know CFA is an overwhelmingly great organisation, achieving great things in communities across Victoria, but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t keep looking for areas for improvement and ironing out any issues we find on the way.

 


 

 

Media Release - Wednesday 16th December 2015

Volunteer Fire Brigades Victoria (VFBV) has welcomed the State Government’s decision to engage Victorian Equal Opportunity and Human Rights Commissioner Kate Jenkins to examine issues around
gender equity and workplace culture in Victoria’s emergency services.

Representing Victoria’s 60,000 CFA volunteers, VFBV sees the announcement as a move towards encouraging greater diversity, not just of gender, but of cultures and ages in CFA.

VFBV Chief Executive Officer Andrew Ford said greater diversity means practical benefits for Brigades and the communities they protect. 

“Having more diversity of gender, cultures and ages will strengthen CFA Brigades’ connections with the communities we protect and increase the pool of potential volunteers,” Mr Ford said.

Minister Garrett has highlighted the fact that only 3% of CFA and MFB operational staff are women.

“Among CFA volunteers, approximately 20% of all volunteers are women and nearly 5,000 of those women are front line firefighters,” Mr Ford said.

“CFA volunteers serve in front line, command and specialist roles at all levels, and provide CFA’s great surge capacity, the ability to field thousands of trained, experienced firefighters to deal with major and multiple incidents wherever they occur,” he said.

“We see diversity as not only ensuring that essential response capacity into the future, but adding to CFA Brigades’ connection with every part of the community.”

“VFBV looks forward to supporting the efforts of Minister Garrett and CFA CEO Lucinda Nolan to drive gender equity across CFA,” Mr Ford said.

 

Download the VFBV Message to Volunteers here

Published in VFBV News
Wednesday, 14 October 2015 00:00

Fire Safety Pledge - Brigades can win $1,000

CFA’s Fire Safety Pledge promotion is now open and will run until 3 December 2015.

Brigades are asked to encourage members of the public to visit;  http://thefiresafetypledge.com.au/ and make a simple pledge that they will undertake activities to reduce their risk or better prepare themselves for fire.

It is designed to be an additional and innovative fun way to engage with the community around fire safety this year.

Members making the pledge are invited to nominate their local CFA brigade – there are prizes for the participant, and the Brigade can win up to $1,000 to be used for anything it feels would benefit the brigade and local community.

Brigades are encouraged to promote this campaign by;

  • Sharing on Social Media
  • Emails by individual Brigade members to families, friends and other contacts
  • iPad/Tablet/Laptop stands at CFA Open Days, Ritchies supermarket displays, Bunnings BBQ events or other planned community engagement events
  • Engaging local media to write a story
  • Engaging key local figures to promote the pledge, such as MPs, Mayors, business leaders or the leaders of sporting/community clubs.

Download the Fire Safety Pledge kit for volunteers here.

This promotion has been supported and endorsed by our Joint VFBV/CFA Community Safety Committee and Brigades are encouraged to take it up at the local level.

Published in CFA News

Since the submission date for the Inquiry closed, and following detailed discussion at VFBV State Council in September, VFBV has written to all Victorian Members of Parliament with a summary of our submission to the State Government’s Fire Services Review – see below for a copy of the letter.

The letter includes an introduction to the broader issues and a list of points that volunteers are particularly concerned about.

VFBV has also offered to have volunteer representatives meet with any MPs who would like to discuss the issues or learn more about volunteers’ concerns at the state level or in their local area. 

MPs are invited to call the VFBV office on (03) 9886 1141 if they would like to make contact with their local CFA volunteer delegates.

 

VFBV'S Letter to all State MPs, dated 28 September 2015

Dear Member

VFBV submission to the State Government’s Fire Services Review

As the association representing CFA volunteers, VFBV has recently made an extensive submission to the Fire Services Review. The VFBV submission and relevant material is available via the VFBV website (visit www.vfbv.com.au) and I encourage you to visit our website to read or download this material, as it explains a number of key matters about which volunteers feel very strongly.

Perceptions about the Review’s focus, process and background context have given rise to significant anxiety amongst Victoria’s volunteers, particularly over a number of principles fundamental to CFA’s future success as a volunteer based organisation.

The key and critical principles that volunteers find essential are the following:

♦ The obligations, duties and aspirations both express and implied in the CFA Volunteer Charter as recognised in the current CFA Act and the maintenance of Section 6 of the Act are fundamental to CFA volunteerism and its success in delivering CFA services to the people of Victoria. Critically, flowing from these and in recognition of the core role volunteers play in Victoria’s emergency management, any decision making that may impact on volunteers at any level of government or its agencies must incorporate volunteers in that process and the effects on volunteer capacity must be a clear, transparent and fair feature of such decision making.

♦ Recognition of the importance that the CFA Board has strong volunteer expertise, knowledge and understanding of CFA volunteerism must continue and the engagement of volunteers through current arrangements for volunteer nomination to and level of representation on the CFA Board as currently provided. These arrangements are central to the engagement and utilisation of volunteer knowledge and experience.

♦ The CFA must have genuine ability and empowerment to govern and manage resource decisions, including internal resource allocation and prioritisation of support to volunteers consistent with its current statutory obligations. This includes the powers of the Chief Officer to determine all operational and related matters free of external interference save from the requirements of the CFA Act as currently set out and the statutory role of the Emergency Management Commissioner.

♦ Active removal of external interference and arrangements (including those affecting CFA, EMV and Government) that impede, or block volunteers from being genuinely involved in decision making on all matters which may impact on them including proposed legislation and the adequacy of resources to enable volunteers to deliver the agreed services. 

♦ The CFA Budget and priorities must be established at a level and grow as required with such spending and resource priorities so as to ensure that volunteers maintain and continue to grow their capacity to provide CFA services to the people of urban and rural Victoria and provide Victoria with a high level surge capacity to deal with emergencies across the state. The determination and order of budget priorities consistent with this must be determined without inappropriate external interference or influence, and consistent with its statutory, governance and administrative accountabilities, obligations and requirements.

♦ CFA Budget priorities must ensure that there is sufficient resourcing to provide volunteers with best possible access to necessary training, up to date facilities and equipment including Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), communications and vehicles, legal protection, and appropriate financial compensation for injury, illness and personal loss sustained during service to the people of Victoria.

♦ There must be transparency with regard to the determination, collection and expenditure of the Fire Services Levy (FSL).

♦ The total additional cost of any additional initiatives determined by government and not conforming to the order of CFA determined priorities must be resourced separately by government for the duration of the initiative and must not interfere in any way with CFA meeting its resource priorities for encouraging, maintaining and strengthening the capacity of volunteers to deliver CFA services to Victoria.

♦ CFA high level resourcing priorities must include volunteer support and capacity strengthening, including appropriate expansion of the BASO program, training and skills maintenance including first aid training, leadership development, and provision of EMR services to the public by volunteers, fixing communications problems and cyclic vehicle/appliance replacement.

♦ A culture of respect for volunteers, including ensuring there is no discrimination nor any barriers against volunteers simply because they are not paid. This includes barriers to the roles volunteers perform; access to training for volunteers demonstrating a willingness and capacity for higher level training; or utilisation and acceptance of volunteers’ authority and role in command and control within CFA and the broader emergency services.  There should also be a leadership culture of active intolerance to any discrimination against volunteers based on their volunteer status.

♦ Acceptance that appropriately trained and experienced volunteers can carry out duties of any designation within CFA and Victoria’s emergency management sector and proactive effort to engage their active utilisation in such roles. 

♦ Active encouragement and facilitation of individual volunteers demonstrating a willingness and capacity for high level training and utilisation in command and control and other CFA roles for training, building experience and sustaining qualifications, including for IMTs and the highest levels in incident control.

♦ Government and CFA’s active public and institutional promotion and demonstrated respect for CFA (and other emergency service) volunteers and the essential role they play in Victoria’s safety including advocacy against public attacks made on volunteers.

In summary, volunteers are particularly concerned about:

  • Erosion of CFA’s ability to govern, manage resource decisions and allocate appropriate priority to resourcing/supporting the capacity of volunteers to deliver CFA services
  • Erosion of the CFA Chief Officer’s statutory powers and operational decision making ability 
  • The need to improve consultation with volunteers and/or the representation of volunteer knowledge and expertise at key decision forums in any future arrangements
  • Erosion of the obligations, intent and authority of the CFA Volunteer Charter and/or the practical application of the CFA Volunteer Charter
  • Any decision making processes at CFA, EMV or Government that impact on volunteers but block volunteers out of the process
  • Any cuts to CFA budget relating to volunteer support and volunteer capacity building forced because of the need to pay for externally imposed or new commitments 
  • Any failure to fully additionally fund externally imposed or new commitments  for the life of the commitment
  • Ensuring adequate investment in resources for training of volunteers and for volunteer equipment, facilities, personal protection, service related injury/illness compensation etc.
  • Any diversion of funding raised through the Fire Service Levy and the Government’s related share to other cost areas
  • Continuation of industrial agreements that establish power of veto that overrides legitimate CFA decision making or block CFA progressing volunteer support initiatives, resource allocation and CFA organisational structure
  • External direction to CFA Board or management that is not transparent, justifiable and consistent with legislation
  • Resourcing priorities and funding allocation decisions that ignore more cost effective and reliably beneficial opportunities to encourage, maintain and strengthen the capacity of volunteers to deliver CFA services (specifically referencing section 6i of the CFA Act)
  • Any discrimination in the roles volunteers can perform, training opportunities for volunteers or recognition of volunteers’ skills/expertise simply because they are not paid
  • Failure to positively advocate the essential nature, benefits and professional capacity of the CFA volunteer based system.

If decisions are made that are not consistent with these principles and concerns, we fear the consequence will be a legacy of diminished emergency management volunteer capacity for Victoria. Our desire and commitment is to work with you towards a positive atmosphere so that volunteers can focus their energy on continuing to provide dedicated services to the community and prepare for the forthcoming summer.

Volunteers want certainty about the real respect and commitment of all key decision makers across Government and institutions to the service they currently provide day and night, every day of the year.

Volunteers want it known that they are committed to the safety of the communities they serve and will strongly resist changes that they feel are not in the best interests of their community.

I am hopeful that you find the VFBV submission to the Fire Services Review and the points outlined above useful to our continuing endeavour to keep all Victorian MPs well informed about matters of fundamental importance to volunteers.

As always I would be more than happy to discuss these matters with you at your convenience.

Yours Sincerely,

Andrew Ford

Chief Executive Officer

 

<Click here to return to the Fire Services Review Submission page>

Published in Uncategorised
Friday, 09 October 2015 00:00

Fire Services Review - 18 December Update

UPDATE: Click here for the 18 December Message to Volunteers

VFBV FINAL SUBMISSION  VFBV's LETTER TO MPs

VFBV INITIAL SUBMISSION   VFBV NOTES FOR VOLUNTEERS

WATCH THIS SPACE - The Review's final report and the Government's response have been postponed until after the bushfire season - both are likely to have important ramifications for volunteers everywhere and Brigades should be ready to study them as soon as they become available.

Click on the list below to see VFBV's submission and supporting documents - if you have made submission to the Review and would like to make it available on this page, contact us at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. 

What is the Fire Services Review?

The Review was set up as a comprehensive review of MFB and CFA – a serious issue for volunteers - and the review was run on a very short time frame.

See the State Government media release here and the Review’s Terms of Reference here. See below for what VFBV had to say on some of the issues.

VFBV's Final Submission to the Fire Services Review

VFBV's Initial Submission - Dated 14 August 2015

Published in Other News
Thursday, 24 September 2015 00:00

Fire Services Review - Latest Update

Click here to hear ABC774’s on air forum on the Fire Services Review, with Emergency Management Commissioner Craig Lapsley, VFBV’s Andrew Ford and the United Firefighters’ Union’s Peter Marshall. The forum went to air on Thursday, 7 April, on Jon Faine’s Conversation Hour.

VFBV Chief Executive Officer Andrew Ford’s Note to Members on the Government’s Response to the Fire Services Review’s recommendations

The Government has now released the Fire Services Review report and probably more importantly the State Government’s response to the report’s recommendations.

Both of these documents are available for download below and also from the Fire Services Review website.  The Fire Services Review website includes copies of all public submissions including VFBV, CFA and EMV submissions.

I think most CFA volunteers will be pleased overall with the Government’s response to the review.  A key theme throughout the review is a recognition of the enormous front line and collective capacity of Victoria’s fire services.  There is a very strong theme of needing to ensure there is a culture and collective respect of the skills, knowledge and professionalism of Victorian firefighters, volunteer and paid staff alike, regardless of pay status.  The report calls to improve leadership and to address a concerning culture that has tolerated; treating people differently based on pay status; bullying and harassment; poor front line worker and management relationships; and a ‘them and us’ approach.

There is a strong call for everyone in the sector to focus more energy on working as one.  There is strong recognition of the need for CFA to have more flexibility in the way it deploys resources to support local brigades and community circumstances, and there is an identified need to improve leadership from agency executive level through to Brigade level and across the sector’s collective leadership.

The review recognises the strengths of the existing fire services and says that effort should be focussed on ensuring the separate fire services share common effort, reduce duplication and work as one.  The report explicitly advises against any contemplation of amalgamating the MFB and CFA, reporting that this would have a negative rather than constructive impact. 

The report acknowledges the extensive and essential capacity of CFA’s volunteer Brigades and the fundamental value of sustaining and building strong integration in those communities where paid staff are required to supplement volunteer capacity.  The report identifies the essential nature of CFA’s volunteer Brigade surge capacity for major and concurrent events.

There are 20 recommendations, and the Government has identified an action to address 18 of these.  Several recommendations are earmarked for further discussion/work and the Government has committed to work with VFBV and others on the detail of these.

Based on some commonly discussed issues during the review, many volunteers will be particularly interested in the following recommendations and government response;

  • Recommendation 9, concerning consideration of a Firefighters’ Registration Board – Government response is to initiate national consultation on this over the next five years.  The report detail suggests this would need to be open to volunteers and paid firefighters alike and would provide an opportunity to facilitate lateral entry and recognise skills, irrespective of whether they are paid or volunteer.
  • Recommendation 18, concerning deploying Leading Firefighters or Station Officers to provide administrative, technical, community engagement and operational support to volunteer Brigades.  The Government has supported the intent of finding ways to support volunteer Brigades, but has noted the best means to deliver that support requires further consideration.
  • Recommendation 17, includes recommendation that CFA review the process for selecting Brigade Captains.  Government response suggests a selection process be developed to enhance the current approach to focus on ensuring the necessary leadership and technical skills needed for the role.  This work has a timeframe of the next two years.
  • Recommendation 5, includes developing best practice models for initiation and planning for the establishment of integrated Brigades and the selection of leaders of integrated Brigades, drawing on successful processes adopted to date.  Government response is that CFA is to lead a short review to identify best practices.
  • There are also recommendations concerning training; health & wellbeing; developing leadership; and better engagement with volunteers and representative bodies.

VFBV will seek to be very closely involved with work on these and the actions proposed for all other recommendations.

Of interest is an acknowledgement to include VFBV on EMV’s Fire Services Interoperability Committee.  This is consistent with VFBV’s previous requests to EMC Craig Lapsley and also an issue covered in our submission to the review.  VFBV has previously expressed dissatisfaction to the EMC about not being included in this important forum.

There are several recommendations relating to culture in the fire services and issues specifically relating to bullying and harassment.   VFBV has already welcomed the CFA-commissioned Equity and Diversity Review being conducted by VEOHRC.

At a more strategic level, there are recommendations involving consideration of possible future service delivery models, a review of CFA and MFB legislation, and a review of the legislation giving powers to EMV, but no specific direction set down as yet.  VFBV will certainly be taking a keen interest to ensure these important issues progress in a positive way.

See below to download a copy of VFBV’s media release supporting the Government's response, the Fire Services Review report and the Government’s response.

VFBV has supported the Government’s response to the Fire Services Review and commended Minister Garrett for taking the time to make a sensible and considered response.  We have also welcomed the invitation to work with Government on the issues requiring further consideration.    Over all, our reaction to the Government’s response to the review’s recommendations is positive and I believe this provides a good foundation for us to work constructively with Government and the CFA.  I have said publicly, as you will see in our media release, that in the main the Government’s response to the Fire Services Review is on the mark, and for the issues requiring more work, VFBV looks forward to working with Government, the agencies and other stakeholders.

Andrew Ford

Chief Executive Officer

 

VFBV's submission to the Fire Services Review

Volunteer Fire Brigades Victoria (VFBV) lodged a detailed 48 page submission with the State Government’s Fire Services Review, with considerable contributions from VFBV Delegates and individual volunteers. It was lodged alongside many more submissions from District Councils, Brigades and volunteers.

Our submission drew upon the work we have done on 11 other inquiries and reviews since 2008, including data from the annual VFBV Volunteer Welfare and Efficiency Survey and issues already being raised through VFBV’s extensive consultative networks.

Volunteers noted the Minister’s statements at the time of the announcement of the Review, that an amalgamation of CFA and MFB “is not on the Government’s agenda” and that “Victoria’s fire services and their boundaries will remain intact”.

The covering letter from VFBV and VFBV’s submission to the Review raised a number of issues familiar to volunteers, and there was a detailed summary in the accompanying VFBV Notes for Volunteers – all three documents are available for download below.

 

Published in VFBV News

FIRE SERVICES REVIEW - UPDATE

The Fire Services Review has been granted a two week extension and will now report to the State Government by 14 October.

The Review team has also announced that they will not publish the submissions received until then.

For more details, see the Fire Services Review website.

Published in VFBV News

Attention: CFA Volunteers

The open letter from Minister Jane Garrett (below) was received by VFBV this afternoon for circulation to our volunteer communications networks.

Please assist by forwarding the Ministers open letter to fellow CFA volunteers.

In addition to the Ministers invitation for submissions by members of the public and CFA Brigades, VFBV will make a detailed submission. VFBV District Councils are already in the process of facilitating as much discussion as possible within the timeframe provided by the review.  

I encourage your active input to VFBV discussion and/or direct input to the Fire Services Review via details provided in the Minister’s Open Letter (attached).   David O’Byrne has advised that submissions can be made on a confidential basis and I encourage volunteers to provide input no matter how brief or detailed. 

Andrew Ford

Chief Executive Officer

Volunteer Fire Brigades Victoria

 


A message from Emergency Services Minister Jane Garrett to Victoria's volunteer firefighters

The work you do as CFA volunteers makes a vital contribution to keeping our state safe.

You have Victoria's enduring thanks for the countless times you have protected lives and property in the face of natural disasters.

As you know, the Andrews Labor Government has commissioned a review into Victoria's firefighting services. This will ensure Victoria maintains its world-class fire services.

Some people think this review is designed to amalgamate the CFA and the MFB.

I'm writing to you to assure you that this is not the case and that this idea is not on the government's agenda.

Victoria’s fire services and their boundaries will remain intact.

The review will focus on major issues facing fire agencies. This includes identifying the support volunteer brigades require to remain viable into the future.

As part of this, the reviewer Mr David O'Byrne is talking to people across our fires services community, including Volunteer Fire Brigades Victoria.

Members of the public, including volunteer brigades can make submissions via the dedicated Fire Services Review webpage: https://myviews.justice.vic.gov.au/fireservicesreview or in writing to the Fire Services Review, Level 30, 121 Exhibition Street, Melbourne, VIC 3000.

Submissions will be taken until the 31st of August as the review is due to be finalised before the beginning of the fire season.

If you have any queries in relation to the review, please contact the review secretariat at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

 

Click here to return to VFBV's Fire Services Review page

Published in Uncategorised

Think about the volunteers you look up to; the volunteers you admire the most. The ones who have given distinguished service to CFA, volunteers and the community.

The Australian Fire Services Medal is worthy recognition for those special volunteers, and reflects well on their Brigade and all CFA volunteers.

CFA is now gathering nominations for the Australian Fire Service Medal (AFSM) for the Queen’s Birthday Honours 2016.

Nominations must be in by 1 November 2015.

All volunteers, auxiliary members and full-time staff of CFA are eligible for the medal. The Australian Fire Service Medal is not reserved for senior officers – it is open to all levels of CFA.

The sole criterion for the award of the Australian Fire Service Medal is distinguished service.

“Distinguished service” includes service that is above and beyond the normal zealous and faithful discharge of normal or ordinary service, whether short term or prolonged. It could be a special achievement or success in the performance of duty in difficult or unusual circumstances, or sustained high-level performance with outcomes and recognisable benefits to CFA, the fire service in general or the community. The service must be exceptional. Long service should not be used as a basis for making nominations.

See below to download the AFSM Nomination Form, the Nominator’s Guide and the Nomination Guidelines.

Published in Other
Wednesday, 12 August 2015 00:00

Fire Services Review (FSR) – Media

The Fire Services Review has attracted a number of stories and comments in the media;

Herald Sun - Tuesday, 11 August 2015 - Volunteer Fireys Fear Divide

The Age, Letters Page - Wednesday, 12 August 2015 - Firing up the CFA

 

Click here to return to the Fire Services Review page

Published in Uncategorised

CFA will participate in the 2015 Australian National Fire Cadet Championships, to be held in New South Wales during the September school holidays.

They are seeking applications from registered junior members aged 14 and 15 years, as well as endorsed junior leaders, to represent CFA at the championships.

Applicants do not require previous championships/competition experience, as the NSW events are not based on CFA running events.

This opportunity will involve members travelling to Sydney to engage in a series of team building and group development activities, as well as participating in the ANFC Championships.

Please see the attached flyer for information on the Championships and application process.

Further information and application forms can be found at http://www.cfa.vic.gov.au/volunteer-careers/junior-volunteers/ or by emailing This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Applications close, Friday 7 August 2015.

Published in CFA News
Wednesday, 01 April 2015 00:00

SA Volunteer Fire Fighters Museum Reunion

The SA Volunteer Fire Fighters Museum is arranging a Reunion for all past and present (staff and volunteer) members, including families of the SA Country Fire Service.

It will take place on the long weekend of October 3rd -5th, at Naracoorte Showground.

The event will include; dinner on the Saturday evening, family breakfast on Sunday, trade displays, competition display and mini events, BBQ dinner on the Sunday night, entertainment and plenty of time to relax, reminisce and enjoy a great weekend

You can contact the Museum Chairman Rex Hall AFSM on (08) 8762 1424 or at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Published in Other News
Thursday, 20 February 2014 10:59

CFA update on the Latrobe Valley Open Cut fires

See below to download CFA's update on the Latrobe Valley Open Cut fires

Published in CFA News
Friday, 25 October 2013 15:57

Fire Services Levy - start the discussion

VFBV has long pressed for a Fire Services Property Levy discount or exemption for CFA volunteers, in recognition of the significant contribution they already make as members of Brigades.

Since the levy took effect this year and people have had the chance to see it in practice, it has become the subject of media coverage and some public debate, and there have been volunteers with useful opinions to contribute.

If you would like to express an opinion on the levy, possible recognition of volunteer service or any other aspects, we invite you to contact the office on This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. 

VFBV made comprehensive submissions to Government when the levy was first mooted and being designed. You can see VFBV's full report at the time of the levy's introduction and the content of our submissions by clicking here

Published in VFBV News

VFBV invites expressions of interest from volunteers who are either involved or have an interest in taking up the Fire Behaviour Analyst (FBAN) role within Incident Management Teams (IMTs).

The invitation is part of the CFA IMTTP (Incident Management Team Training Project) and is open until 30 August 2013.

For those that do not know much about it, a Fire Behaviour Analyst is a technical specialist role. It involves the consideration of science and experience to analyse risk and communicate the results to help emergency managers make decisions.  It is a relatively new role in Victoria. Formal training for the role began in 2007.  Development and uptake of the role was initially rapid, but the need for further role clarification and coordination has been identified.  A project is underway to develop a multi-agency Bushfire Predictive Services Strategy.  The strategy will clarify how fire agencies should best use Fire Behaviour Analysts and their ability to apply science and modelling to make incident predictions.  The Bushfire Predictive Services Strategy will deal primarily with the Fire Behaviour Analyst program.  It will provide a model that could be adapted for other hazards and technical expertise, for example flood prediction.

The FBAN role and Bushfire Predictive Services Strategy probably won’t interest or affect many members, but, like many technical or specialist roles, for the right person it could be a great opportunity for them to use their unique knowledge and experience to improve emergency management in Victoria. The group developing the strategy is keen to tap in to the diversity and depth of knowledge that exists amongst volunteers across the state.  They are trying to develop a strategy based on what end users prefer.  Our challenge is finding the right person or right people to provide feedback.  If we find the right people to help, and they develop a good strategy, we will end up with better support for bushfire management.  Improving the way we integrate bushfire science will make our operations more efficient, more effective and safer.

As a guide, the right people to help with the strategy development would probably:

•         Have had contact with the existing fire behaviour analyst program or have had involvement with similar work (eg flood specialists)

•         Be interested in and knowledgeable about bushfire scientific research or predictive modelling

•         Be interested in weather forecasting

The best people to help with this strategy may not be immediately obvious. They may have a prominent incident management role (eg Planning Officers or Incident Controllers), or have come across fire science and predictive modelling another way.  For those interested helping, there are two lengthy documents providing background details that have informed the strategy development to date and a discussion paper with targeted questions.

The strategy will be drafted soon, so VFBV is trying to identify interested people as quickly as possible.  If you know of someone suitable who would like to be involved, please provide their names, brief outline of their interest and/or experience, and contact details to VFBV Executive Officer Adam Barnett by end of August 2013 (but the sooner the better).  As EOIs come in, Adam will make contact with each person to discuss what opportunities exist for them to be involved.

Contact:

Adam Barnett

Executive Officer, VFBV

Volunteer Fire Brigades Victoria

P: (03) 9886 1141 M: 0403 711 911

E: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Published in VFBV News

Volunteer Fire Brigades Victoria, the association representing Victoria’s 60,000 CFA volunteers, is deeply saddened to learn of the deaths in the line of duty of 19 firefighters, while fighting a major wildfire, the Yarnell Hill fire, in their home state of Arizona.

On behalf of all CFA volunteers, we offer our most heartfelt sympathies to their families, friends and colleagues in the town of Prescott, Arizona.  From our own experience we know this is an unfathomable loss, one that goes beyond words.

As we reflect on the sacrifice made by these, our fellow firefighters, we also give thanks for their devotion to duty in protecting others.  They shall never be forgotten.

Published in VFBV News
Monday, 11 March 2013 00:00

Links

Country Fire Authority (CFA)
The Official public website of the victorian Country Fire Authority

CFA Online (Brigades Online)
Private site for CFA Members only

CFA Pix
CFA's official image gallery

Emergency Memberlink
Emergency Memberlink is a recognition program for CFA and VICSES staff and volunteers that provides benefits and discounts to our members.

Australasian Fire Authorities Council AFAC
The Australasian Fire Authorities Council (AFAC) is a peak fire and emergency services industry body established by its members to collaborate on matters of international, national and regional importance.

Australian Government Disaster Assist

Australian Government assistance to Australians affected by disasters, both in Australia and overseas. 

Bushfire CRC
Bushfire Cooperative Research Centre

Department of Sustainability and Environment (DSE)
The Department of Sustainability and Environment (DSE) is Victoria's lead government agency for sustainable management of water resources, climate change, bushfires, public land, forests and ecosystems.

Emergency Management Australia (EMA)
EMA pursues a cooperative and collaborative relationship with Australian Government agencies such as the Department of Finance and Administration, Geoscience Australia and the Bureau of Meteorology.

Bureau of Meteorology (BOM)
The Australian Bureau of Meteorology is a world-class national meteorological agency providing expertise and services to assist Australians in dealing with the harsh realities of our
natural environment, including drought, floods, fires, storms, tsunami and tropical cyclones.

The Fireman
Since 1947 ‘The Fireman’ has provided news and information to CFA brigades, keeping fire-fighters up to date on developments within the organisation.

Victorian Emergency Services Association (VESA)
VESA was formed in 1983 with the objective of providing a focus for representing the views of Volunteers of VICSES on issues which affect them.

Youth Central
Youth Central is the Victorian Government's web-based initiative for young people aged 12-25

CAVFA

The Council of Australian Volunteer Fire Associations (CAVFA) is a collaboration of eleven volunteer fire brigade associations within Australia. The Council was established to give volunteer fire-fighters a united voice in discussions and negotiations with government and key stakeholders.

 

 

Published in Other
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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