It gives me great pleasure to announce the appointment of Mark Potter as the Regional Director in CFA's Gippsland Region.
Thanks everyone for taking the time to read this update. Chief Officer Euan Ferguson is currently on some well-earned leave and will return on Monday 25 June.
Ok your invincible or at least you thought you were
An enduring feature of our landscape is fire and flood and drought. And this has given rise to a uniquely Australian characteristic - that of emergency service volunteering. Emergency service volunteering in Australia is in many ways unique. No other country in the world can boast the comprehensive and professional volunteer emergency services that we see here in Victoria and other states. Indeed, as I travel the globe, many countries look upon us and our emergency service arrangements with envy.
06.54 Saturday morning it's a day off in more ways than one
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:
Effect Of National Harmonised OHS Legislation On volunteer Compensation:
We were asked, and I promised, to send some wording on the effect of the national legislation on volunteer compensation: "I am advised that there is no effect of the national OHS legislation on volunteer compensation. This is due to the fact that CFA volunteer compensation is determined by state law, whereas the new OHS legislation is federal law".
Recently the Bayswater CFA Brigade elected Diana Ferguson as their Captain. She joins a small but growing number of females who share the leadership in the organisation.
It's not often that we stop to acknowledge the invaluable work done by our CFA Peers. These are volunteers who frequently step in at a moment's notice and selflessly commit their personal resources to help others through tough times.
New Zealand Earthquake
Recently we welcomed home the Victorian Urban Search and Rescue (USAR) Team from their deployment to earthquake-hit Christchurch. CFA USAR Specialists SSO Doug Broom (Frankston) and SO Tony Heafield (Geelong City) were part of this contingent. This team was the second deployment of Australian personnel and included members from CFA, MFB, Ambulance Victoria and SES. They were involved in the grim search for deceased victims of the disaster through the process of "de-layering" rubble in the quake zone. The difficult task performed by the team was performed tremendously well. Job well done team!
Chief Officer's Commendations to Melton Six: This week it was my pleasure to recognise six members of the Melton Fire Brigade with Chief Officer's Commendations. SO Jason Hirt, LFF Daniel Baker, VFF's Belinda Phillips, Alexia Cooney, Trevor Rickards and Paul Strachan were recognised for their actions in averting a tragedy associated with a house fire on 16th September 2010 at Comic Court Melton. The timely actions of the crew resulted in a quick knockdown of the fire and subsequent discovery, assessment, removal and treatment of a casualty from the building. The actions of the crew played a significant part in his survival. The situation presented itself with several complexities, which were successfully managed. For their actions, each member was awarded a letter of Chief Officer's Commendation. Congratulations to the Melton six on a difficult job done well!
3.24 AM The pager vibrating and screeching on the bedside table wakes me from my sleep
With memories of the January and February floods still raw for many, I want to pay tribute to the communities who defended themselves, and especially those who suffered the impacts.
As I travel the state, one of the most common issues raised is the diminished role of the Group and of Group officers in operations. At last Monday's Board meeting the Board supported my suggestion of a short review of the role of the Group. The review will focus on strengthening the Group role in operations response and preparedness.
The New Zealand Earthquake:
Our hearts go out to those affected by the New Zealand earthquake. I have passed on our thoughts and condolences to Mike Hall, the National Commander of the New Zealand Fire Service. The Urban Search and Rescue response from Queensland and New Zealand has evoked a number of questions as to why a Victorian team was not dispatched. Under an International USAR plan, Australia has two international teams only. These are Queensland and New South Wales. Other state teams are intended for domestic use in the first instance. Please be assured that CFA has been part of a comprehensive plan developed to offer resources and capability to New Zealand, should a request occur. Regional Manager Trevor Andrews, from the NZFS, who has been on secondment with CFA since October last year has been an important information link to New Zealand. At this stage a contingent of Police from Victoria and Australia has been requested and DSE are sending a small number of logistics personnel to set up a base camp as a contingency for emergency service personnel at Christchurch. We are ready to be part of an integrated support force if a request is made.
Monday 7th February will be the second anniversary of the 2009 Black Saturday Bushfires. It has been a busy time since 2009. Much has happened. Many of you will be aware of actions and programs that CFA has been implementing in order to meet the recommendations of the 2009 Bushfires Royal Commission. Our goal is to make CFA a better and stronger organisation.
As we approach the second anniversary of the Victorian bushfires of February 2009 we remember and honour the 173 people who died.
2011 State Championships:
The first of our State Championships will take place at the end of February.
An Australia Day Reflection:
Happy Australia Day! Today is a wonderful opportunity to celebrate so much that is good. Whilst life is full of everyday challenges and disappointments we often take for granted what a great country we live in. We enjoy a standard of living and a culture that so many others across the globe can only dream of. Those distinctive aussie characteristics of mateship, determination in adversity, helping your neighbour, and always looking for the positives – even when the chips are down, define our people and our country. Of course there is one other defining characteristic of Australia, and that is the volunteering ethos. We are one of a handful of countries where many important functions are carried out by volunteers. Be it meals on wheels, firefighting, surf lifesaving, caring for the land or caring for vulnerable people, volunteering is a strong and essential part of the fabric of the Australian way of life. CFA epitomises what it is to be Australian.
I would like to recognise the outstanding efforts of both our staff and our volunteers in Loddon Mallee, Grampians & Barwon South West for their efforts over the past 10 days during the Victorian Floods.
Welcome to 2011! - Let' s make this a year "when everyone goes home safe!"
Amongst this celebration let's pause to think of those in the CFA family for whom Christmas may not be so easy. There will be those who will be without loved ones, and those who are still in recovery from the 2009 Black Saturday Fires. In the last week I have met with CFA members at Kinglake West, Kinglake and Mudgegonga - all areas that burned ferociously on Black Saturday. Many are still in temporary accommodation, repairing farm buildings and replacing fences. More still are coping with losses of loved ones in their communities. I pause at this time to acknowledge the real courage and determination of these wonderful people whose community leadership and positive outlook on life makes me feel very humble.
With Christmas upon us and a very busy year about to come to a close, I want to take a moment to extend my best wishes, along with those of my Executive colleagues, to you for this festive season and the year ahead.
I suppose it had to happen
I strongly believe the person at the front-line of an organisation - in our case CFA firefighters - is the most important person and everything the organisation does should be focused on supporting that man or woman.
This will be a major project for CFA and in order to ensure that we best position CFA's approach and input to this process, I am putting together, under the oversight of Director Finance and Administration, a Team to allow CFA to participate with selected consultants and Departmental representatives in this review.
It is some time since I last communicated to you on our search for a new Chief Officer so I thought it best to bring you up-to-date.
CFA is currently preparing for significant organisational change and transformation in response to the outcomes of the Royal Commission.