I’m pleased to share with you the CFA Plan for 2012-13 which you can download and read here.
A number of media outlets have recently reported on budget reductions to both CFA and MFB.
The Conference provided a great opportunity to get a sense of where CFA sits within the current economic climate, discuss the importance of leadership in ensuring our future and get clarity around the CEO and Chief Officer's mission and direction.
Successful Fuel Reduction Burn At Cardinia:
Allan Budziarski, who is Vegetation Management Officer at Southern Metro has advised of a very successful 62 ha burn carried out last week. Robbie Irving (Upper Beaconsfield) was burn OIC and was mentored by Wildfire Instructor Mark Barille. Resources were drawn from Upper Beaconsfield, Bunyip, DSE, and Melbourne Water Corporation. Allan reports that Approx 500 litres of water utilised throughout the entire duration of the burn (approx the same amount of burner mix!!). Ecological values that were accounted for in the planning stage included habitats for the Powerful Owl Habitat, Musk duck and Blue Billed duck and sensitive riparian zones. Allan says that further burns are planned for spring 2012. This is important and valued work. Terrific effort, and thank you!
The CFA Board has given approval for negotiations to begin with a preferred supplier to finalise the service contract. Depending on these negotiations, the project should roll out towards the middle of the year and into early next year, beginning with a pilot in District 12. We will announce the winning tenderer as soon as the negotiations are completed.
This is an exciting project because, through technology and training, every brigade will have access to reliable and robust radio communications. Brigades can deal directly with emergency call centre operators throughout incident dispatch, which will reduce the risk of communication failures and improve safety for both our members and the public.
Is Occupational Health, Safety And Welfare At The Top Of Your Agenda?:
"Safety First!" means that OHSW needs to be at the forefront of everything we do. This includes routine business. It is a great idea to put OHSW at the top of the agenda of your meetings - be they administrative, operational, at Brigade, Group or higher levels - in fact every time we meet. It is an opportunity to check if there are issues that need to be attended to or followed up either during or after the meeting. I will be insisting this approach at meetings I am involved in from now on. You should consider this too.
We are remembering the situation we were in in February and March last year. The outstanding efforts by individuals, brigades and Groups across LMR as well as all those from outside LMR who helped, in response to the major floods were, at the time and have continued to be since, an inspiration to all CFA members in the Region.
It is with great pleasure that I announce the following appointments to the roles of: -
We recognise that our members are busy people, and we don't want to add to the information overload. There are times, however, when members need to be across operational and CFA-wide issues, and we want to make sure you have the most up-to-date information available.
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.
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.
The structure focuses on teams, moving away from our language of divisions / departments to communicate our commitment to working together - across traditional functions, across our regions, with our volunteers, communities and stakeholders towards One CFA.
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.
Towards An Annual "Burn-over Drill"?:
Recently I wrote to every District Planning Committee Chair proposing that CFA consider an annual bushfire "burn-over drill". The drill could entail members donning their wildfire personal protective clothing and then undertaking the bushfire burn-over drill in the vehicle that they are most likely to be crewing during the fire season. It is proposed that brigades would self assess competence at the drill, which could be conducted on an annual or a biannual basis. Feedback so far has been positive. I am aware that many CFA brigades already conduct an annual burn-over drill - it is consistent with our commitment to "Safety First". This proposal would see that initiative being extended to every CFA member who attends the fireground.
State forum for Community Safety for Volunteers:
Ali Martin from the Member Engagement Project advises of a Forum for Community Safety on 15-16 October. The state forum aims to build volunteer capacity and capability to deliver the Bushfire Safety Policy messages. Our emergency management and community engagement models have significantly changed since Black Saturday. This is all part of continuing the skills development of our front line people to ensure we build resilient and self reliant communities. This is a great opportunity to not only support and reward some of our volunteers for their great work in this area, but to also develop a stronger and enlarged team of "volunteer community safety champions" around the State.
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".
To start, the Government today released the ‘interim' report into the Review of 2010-11 Flood Warnings and Response.
I'd like to use this blog to discuss our Member Engagement Project, which is now gaining momentum.
Welcome to my first ever blog. There's been some fantastic work recently that has prompted me to reflect on the efforts of our people, in particular the work done by our volunteers throughout recent Community Safety campaigns.
We welcome the introduction of this legislation and reaffirm the importance of CFA volunteers to our organisation and the Victorian community. The legislation recognises that CFA exists because of its volunteers, backed by the support of our career staff; both operational and administrative.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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 am writing in response to a recent front page Weekly Times article titled ‘Map Trap’.
The article claimed that the Victorian Government, through the CFA, had failed to meet one of the Victorian Bushfires Royal Commission Interim Recommendations, by not including the location of Neighbourhood Safer Places (NSP) in the recently released Edition 3 Central mapbook.
This is not the case.