Unregistered CFA Vehicles:
Last Tuesday, it emerged that 22 CFA owned vehicles were listed as unregistered on the VicRoads system. This occurred due to an error in our system of work. CFA takes full responsibility for this error and views this failure very seriously. Through our Fleet Services team, we are currently working to fix the system so it is more robust. CFA has arranged for stand-in vehicles to replace firefighting vehicles that were identified as unregistered. These are the usual support arrangements implemented when trucks are at the District Mechanical Office or engaged elsewhere. This has not impacted on our service delivery. By yesterday 14 of the 15 operational vehicles involved were re-registered and back in service. The remaining firefighting vehicle will be returned to service by the end of this week. My advice is that mechanical servicing has been maintained on all the vehicles but three - and these are located at museums or have been privately sold.
Appreciation For Home Bushfire Advice service:
A Flowerdale resident recently wrote to CFA as follows: "Dear CFA, I am writing to congratulate you on such a worthwhile Community Program. On Saturday 1st September, we had Craig Lawless arrive on time and spend one hour giving us a great amount of reassurance and guidance on how best to prepare our property over the fire season. He had a device to measure exactly how many metres our trees are away from the house which is great to know as we could only best guess as to whether they were a threat. Craig was very professional in his manner and gave us sound practical advice - all detailed to our specific circumstances - which was the just the best information you could get. Craig's visit has given me confidence and peace of mind. Thank you CFA." Great work Craig and a testament to the Home Bushfire Advice Service!
Work is continuing on CFA's move to incorporate the philosophy of "mission command" into our doctrine. Focus groups (a mix of senior volunteers and career staff) have been developing concepts around an operational decision-making process (which reinforces the "dynamic risk assessment process"); a revised and updated set of Operations Principles; and a set of guiding operational behaviours. Work is also under way to establish the key steps in issuing a "leader's intent".
Last week we saw a lot of public and media comment about the matters surrounding the use of training fires at Fiskville in the 1970s through to the 1990s. This matter is difficult for us all. As CEO Mick Bourke (in expressing the CFA Board's feelings) says: We regret what has happened at Fiskville in the past. It is not good enough. For those who may be affected by those past practices, we are deeply sorry for the pain and stress that this has caused, and continues to cause.
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.
One of the issues identified in the Jones report was the need for better communication with volunteers. We know there are improvements to be made in this area. While it's important for us to not overload you with communication, there are times when we need to send you operational and CFA-wide information. In order to determine how our members want to be kept up-to-date, CFA's strategic Communications team have developed a short survey for all members to complete. The survey will be available both online and as a tear-out hard copy in the Autumn edition of Brigade magazine with a reply paid envelope for members to complete. It will also be included in the VFBV quarterly mail-out. I encourage you to take part and have your say at:
Now the Independent Investigator is up and running, we urge members with information useful to the inquiry to contact Professor Joy's team directly on
(03) 5420 9260 between 9.00am and 5.00pm Monday to Friday or email firstname.lastname@example.org
Chicago Fire Department Safety Video:
In an effort to make personal safety a top priority, the National Fallen Firefighters Foundation (NFFF) and the Chicago Fire Department (CFD) have released a new video, Chicago Fire Department - Everyone Goes Home®. More than two dozen survivors of fallen firefighters, including co-workers and family members, participated in the filming of Chicago Fire Department - Everyone Goes Home. All members of the Chicago Fire Department have had the opportunity to see Chicago Fire Department - Everyone Goes Home® and it is now available for the entire fire service. To see the video, go to www.youtube.com/watch?v=vODww1qwSuE.
06.54 Saturday morning it's a day off in more ways than one
There is much activity in CFA at the moment. Set against the ongoing daily demands of delivering fire and emergency services, there is an escalating tempo in our bushfire education and community liaison teams. Parts of the state are drying. Preparations for the fire season are in full swing with pre-season briefings, and multi-agency pre-fire season exercises. Revised "Joint SOP's" have been approved, and key community bushfire safety policies have recently been endorsed. CFA is also briefing members about future options for emergency management. We are adopting our business plan to incorporate the Fire Services Commissioner's 3 year rolling reform plan. Amongst all this activity it is important to keep a sustainable pace. As we rearrange our priorities ensure that you set aside time to take care of yourself and for your family. The Dalai Lama says we should all take 30 minutes a day to be with ourselves. This is good advice. As you get around your work colleagues, keep an eye out for their welfare. We all work in teams and occasionally we get stressed and tired and emotional. Sometimes it takes a member of your team to remind you to slow down, to ease off, or to go home early today. Take care of yourselves, take care of each other and remember to be nice to those around you.
Take Care driving CFA Vehicles:
Last week Berwick Pumper was involved in a serious accident whilst travelling Code 1 to a job. The pumper collided with a vehicle whilst traversing a controlled intersection. As a result of the accident two members of the public were hospitalised. In recent months, there have been a number of serious accidents involving CFA vehicles travelling under emergency conditions. It is worthy to reinforce that the safety of a CFA vehicle, its occupants and that of other road users is the responsibility of the driver. Code 1 driving is always an inherently dangerous activity. Situational awareness, adjusting driving to weather and road conditions and maintaining vehicle control at all times are all critical to safe driving.
Our approach to safety is not just about safety on the fireground or during an incident or emergency. It extends to safety at the fire station, in the office, and during training - safety is fundamental to all these activities.
Another lesson learnt - Things never quite turn out how you expect them to.
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.
I suppose it had to happen
The final report of the 2009 Bushfires Royal Commission will be handed to the Governor this Saturday, 31 July. It should be made public by noon.
The 2009 Bushfires Royal Commission has reached a milestone with the last witness giving evidence.
The 2009 Bushfires Royal Commission heard evidence on issues including insurance and the funding of fire services, mapping, firefighter safety and information sharing during the sixth block of hearings held in March.
The 2009 Bushfires Royal Commission shifted its focus to fuel reduction and land use planning during the fifth block of hearings held in February.
The work of the 2009 Fires Task Force is continuing as we enter 2010 and move into the final six months of the Royal Commission process.
Throughout each year, and especially in tough times like the bushfire season, we value and respect the enduring effort that you apply to your role.