Recognising CFA Service During The 2009 Bushfires:
The 2009 bushfires are etched in history and in the memories of so many CFA members. For some time now, the Board has been planning that CFA member service over the 2009 Gippsland fires, Black Saturday and the ensuing campaign fires, be recognised. Recognition will be in a number of ways:
Manager of Strategic Communications, Liz Armitage describes how Twitter emergency warnings are being incorporated within the fire agencies “One Source One Message” (OSOM) system. This means that warnings will be published on the CFA Updates Twitter account as soon as they are published on CFA website by OSOM. The Twitter account is also updated by the CFA media team and State Control Centre (SCC) media unit during emergencies.
I’d like to provide you with an update on the program of work to be delivered for fire season 2010-11. A great deal of work is underway and I am pleased to let you know the program is progressing well.
The State Government has responded to the Victorian Bushfires Royal Commission’s (VBRC) recommendations and the CFA will implement many of these changes. We have worked with our partner agencies to introduce and deliver many improvements since the 2009 fire season and the pace of change has been rapid.
A considerable program of work is required to act on the changes for this fire season 2010-11.
In addition to the work delivered under the Bushfires Preparedness Program, a separate program of work will be implemented so we can act swiftly on the VBRC’s recommendations.
On Friday 3 September, the 2009 Fires Committee decided to bring the program offices of the Bushfire Preparedness Program 2010-12 and the Royal Commission Implementation Program together. Many of the projects have shared objectives, so it made sense to bring the two areas together for efficiency, effectiveness and consistency.
With the two areas of work now coming under one portfolio, the title of ‘Bushfires Program 2010-11’ will be used to refer to this body of work. A new Bushfires Program Steering Committee has been established with the first meeting held on 16 September.
The work to be delivered for this fire season draws on the solid program of work delivered by our people under the Bushfires Preparedness Program last year. The core programs will remain, with an increased focus on working with the community in planning, preparedness, readiness and responding to fires. Work on the former Bushfire Preparedness projects is well advanced and a summary of the work to be delivered this year is contained in this memo. However, the implementation of the VBRC’s recommendations is being finalised and further information will be provided once the program of work is confirmed.
A workshop was held recently with Regional Managers (RMs) to discuss the Bushfires Program, service delivery targets and Districts/Regional staff resourcing. The funding for staff resources and service delivery has been weighted according to community risk and population exposure.
RMs and Human Resource Managers have identified employee resourcing requirements. Staff currently employed under BFPP may have their contracts extended from nine months to two years – to be determined by the Regional Manager.
Craig Hearson, from the Bushfires Program Project Office, is meeting with RMs over the next few weeks to assist with the development of Regional Bushfires Program Management Plans. Further information will be provided on these plans as they are finalised.
Bushfire Awareness Programs
An overview of some of the projects under the Bushfires Program for 2010-11 is provided below:
Community Fire Guard and Fire Ready Victoria program enhancement and delivery
This core project for Community Fire Guard (CFG) and Fire Ready Victoria (FRV) will remain the same with some content updated in line with the revised bushfire safety policy and VBRC recommendations. The project will be enhanced to ensure flexibility to meet local needs and bushfire risk, targeting higher risk communities and continued training for new and existing presenters and facilitators.
Community Fire Guard review – implement quality control and assurance
This project involves delivering and implementing an improved quality assurance and control system for the CFG program.
Household bushfire online self assessment tool
The current version of the Household Bushfire Self Assessment Tool (HBSAT) is currently under- going an update by an e-Learning company to improve the ease of navigation and useability of the tool. The updated version of HBSAT will be available for this coming fire season.
Children’s bushfire education
This project is based on the success of the 2009-10 ‘Lil’ Larrikins’ educational campaign. The project will align with other educational programs and will be implemented through programs such as CFG and FRV.
Review and develop new Community Safety publications
CFA is reviewing the publications used to support the community education activities across the state. Publications will be reviewed and developed to support the ongoing delivery of community development programs such as FRV and CFG, and will contain updated key messages.
Communications - community warnings and information
This project will ensure the CFA Chief Officer and delegates can issue timely and accurate bushfire warnings in line with s50B of the CFA Act and statutory obligations. Additional training will be provided for Information Officers around community warnings and information processes.
Programs for diverse populations
This project will continue to develop and deliver bushfire safety information aimed at people from diverse backgrounds, particularly vulnerable people living in high bushfire risk locations.
One Source One Message (single website)
This project will continue to implement improvements to the timelines, content and formation of messages by complying with the final VBRC recommendations and the national framework for bushfire advice. Information unit personnel and incident management teams will receive ongoing training.
Online community meetings system (CRM)
The customer relationship management (CRM) system has been updated and improved to allow for easier reporting and collation of customer information. Registrations for community meetings can be made online and this data will be used to help Districts/Regions with reporting and planning. A new CRM module has also been created for Neighbourhood Safer Places – Places of Last Resort (NSP-PLR). CFA staff and stakeholders will be able to share real time information on NSP-PLR nominations.
Building capacity to develop and deliver programs
This project provides funding directly to the Districts and Regions in order to build capacity and provide resources for the delivery of projects under the Bushfires Program.
Neighbourhood Safer Places – Places of Last Resort
This project will continue to provide policy information on Neighbourhood Safer Places - Places of Last Resort (NSP-PLR). Work will continue on assessments for places of last resort in high bushfire risk locations. This project will consider other bushfire shelter options such as the concept of 'Safer Precincts' and will include the establishment of an NSP -PLR online system for CFA, Councils and other stakeholders.
Township Protection Plans
Work will continue to deliver township protection plans to the top 52 high bushfire risk areas in Victoria. This project will also include extended community engagement programs to communities and other stakeholders.
Vegetation Management – wildfire environ, environmental compliance and quality assurance
These projects will deliver environmentally-sustainable fire management programs on roadside, railway corridors and privately owned land and will comply with integrated fire management planning processes. CFA will work with VicRoads and Municipal Association Victoria in developing and implementing guidelines for the assessment of vegetation on roadsides. Additional training will be provided to brigades to deliver this work.
Advice to property owners
CFA will continue to provide technical expertise to property owners on assessing bushfire risk. This project will focus on assisting community members in understanding their risk when exposed to bushfire and what is required to manage their property if they decide to stay and defend.
Victorian Fire Risk Register (VFRR)
The Victorian Fire Risk Register Team will deliver a bushfire risk register for all the Municipal areas and Alpine Resorts across Victoria by the commencement of the Fire Danger period.
Victorian Bushfire Information Line (VBIL)
In line with recommendations from the VBRC, the messages and information delivered by the VBIL will be timely and effective. CFA is improving information provided to the VBIL by updating the Frequently Asked Questions documents on a regular basis.
Command and Control
This project will focus on implementing changes to the State Emergency Response plan in line with recommendations from the Royal Commission. Changes will be made to how CFA prepares and responds, in line with other emergency services agencies. A key role will be for the Chief Officer’s delivery of information around emergency response.
Incident Management Teams (IMT) Incident command & leadership
This project is designed to enhance and develop statewide capability to prepare and deploy IMTs to resource predetermined Incident Control Centres across Victoria.
Intelligence Gathering and Analysis
This project consists of intelligence gathering initiatives including training and equipment to support ground observers and fire behaviour analysts, intelligence gathering tools and software. Research will be undertaken to develop and align CFA’s and DSE's capability to provide and share valuable information to the community.
Pre-established Incident Control Centres (ICCs) and Divisional Command Centres (DivComs)
CFA and DSE agreed standards for ICCs have now been implemented at the designated ICCs and work is continuing in relation to the DivComs. The focus will be to maintain these facilities with possible funding in the future for review and expansion.
Communications radio command channel
A review of communications is currently underway with a strategic focus on implementing recommendations from the Royal Commission. Tasks include fixing communications black spots and linking Command and Control channels into ICCs.
Your feedback and questions on the Bushfires Program 2010-11 are important so please feel free to leave your comments below or email us at email@example.com
While I wasn't with CFA last fire season, like so many other Australians I watched the events unfold with anguish and sorrow, but also with an overwhelming sense of pride in the response.
"It's important to clarify that the CFA website itself was unaffected; the problem was with the messages being fed to the website. The computer server that enables the messages to go to the website failed . . . We also immediately commissioned a full and independent audit of the OSOM system by auditors Deloitte to make sure all actual and potential pitfalls are identified."
CFA crews have responded to incidents across our state and over the border. We've gone in early, hit fires hard and made sure any threat has been contained. And the coming week will no doubt challenge us again.
I've only been here a few months and I'm yet to see out my first summer, but I do feel like I'm beginning to understand what makes CFA tick. The veterans among you are probably tired of hearing that CFA is all about the people. I'm sure for many of you it's a well-worn cliché.