Chief Officer's Intent
In the implementation of the 2012-13 Annual Business plan, and in activities undertaken by CFA Fire and Emergency Management, I thought it would be appropriate to put forward some form of overarching intent statement. Therefore, in implementing our 2012-13 business plan, consideration is to be given to the following Chief Officer's priorities:
1. Focussing on delivering our mission and supporting our front-line people to deliver community safety outcomes.
2. Maintain and develop our operational service delivery capability.
3. We will strive to work with other agencies and with the community as one integrated fire and emergency management force.
4. We will continue to improve and develop our capability and capacity for managing major incidents.
5. We will continue to adopt the philosophy of Mission Command (which includes strengthening our capability for local command and control and managing by "principle" rather than by prescription).
6. Resources will be applied taking into account the principles of risk, equity, continuous improvement and the recently issued Chief Officer's Principles For Allocating Resources.
7. We will continue to build and develop our leadership team. This includes articulating our desired organisational culture.
8. We will take care of each other, be nice, and serve the community.
Queen's Birthday Honours
Congratulations to the 17 past and present CFA members who have been recognised for their contribution to the fire services and their communities through the prestigious awards of The Medal of the Order of Australia, the Australian Fire Service Medal and the Public Service Medal. Receiving The Medal of the Order of Australia was Bruce Campbell OAM, David McGahy OAM, Michael Chapman OAM, Frances Burns OAM and George Burns OAM, Ian Ewart OAM, Robert Rankin OAM, Ron Jacobs OAM, Terry Baker OAM, and Alexander Stoneman OAM. Receiving the Australian Fire Service Medal was Alan Dale AFSM, Bill Watson AFSM, Don Kelly AFSM, Joan Steel AFSM, Peter Marke AFSM and Trevor Roche AFSM. Receiving the Public Service Medal was Craig Lapsley PSM. Thank you to all for your service. A job well done to and keep up the good work!
Our psychological safety is just as important as our physical safety. Working as a first responder in emergency services means we are exposed to circumstances and events that others would rarely see. Just like physical safety, there are steps we can take to eliminate or minimise our exposure to psychological risk. Our People and Culture team recently discussed with me some tips on how to include psychological safety into our daily practices:
• Minimise your exposure to traumatic images and sounds wherever possible. If you coordinate training for others in CFA, this should be a key message.
• Remove yourself and your team members wherever possible - if a turn out involves an MVA and fatality, keep non-essential personnel at a distance from the scene. Make sure crew members are not exposed for too long.
• Prepare yourself wherever possible - identify things that may be distressing to you and plan how you might deal with them.
• Look after each other and activate support services (such as peers) when you need to.
• Most importantly, be prepared to talk about your feelings and ask for help if you don't feel right.
Community messaging, operational briefings and strategic planning are being influenced by this forecast. An example is the deployment of a secure medium tactical helicopter and a fixed wing aircraft to the Mallee for the first time, to help mitigate the fire risk during harvesting.
This week is National Volunteer Week. It is time to recognise the strength and benefit that we, as a society, receive from volunteering. Volunteers come in many forms. In our schools, hospitals, aged and special care facilities; in sports, working with the disadvantaged and those with special needs; and working to provide hope and a lifeline for those who are down on luck and circumstance. Emergency service volunteers in Australia hold a special place in our culture. The volunteering ethos is strong not only in CFA, but in our communities and our governments. Put simply, we could not enjoy the same standard of health, happiness and safety as we do if it were not for the efforts of our volunteers. Globally, the strong culture of fire and emergency service volunteering in Australia is regarded with respect and some jealously by governments and emergency managers in other countries. Our volunteering ethos is extremely valuable. It is something to be grown, developed and encouraged in future generations. On behalf of CFA, to all our front line people, we say: “Thank you! You do essential work. You create value by protecting lives and property. Your efforts are very much appreciated. Be proud of what you do. Keep up the great work!”
Women Leaders in CFA: My previous article on women in CFA sparked a lot of reaction. Amongst other comments, many wrote to correct my comments about women in leadership positions in CFA. SO Jessica Walsh from Sunbury observes that of the 15 female career firefighters in CFA, there are four leading fire-fighters, one station officer, and two senior station officers (one with operations officer qualifications). Thus, nearly half are in operational leadership roles. SSO Michelle Snow has acted as an Operations Officer. We have Josephine Sensi an SSO, SO Jessica Walsh and four Leading Fire Fighters in Reenie Cook, Kelli Russell, Natalie Brindle and Paula Treacy. A number of female firefighters are currently working towards their Leading Fire Fighter assessments.