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!
A number of media outlets have recently reported on budget reductions to both CFA and MFB.
A "TEWT" is a Tactical Exercise Without Troops. TEWTS are a very effective way of illustrating a tactical situation in the classroom or in an improvised field location without having to assemble, organise and maneuvre resources. One example of conducting a TEWT is where a tactical situation is depicted on the classroom floor. The situation can be set up on a sand table, on a large scale floor map, or with the aid of toy vehicles, earthmoving plant, aircraft etc. Students can then gather around the depiction and gain an over view of the tactical situation. A second way of delivering a TEWT is to use a piece of real ground. For example, it may be an area of interest to the south and west of a settlement where you are simulating the effect of a wind change. In this case, students may be required to undertake a reconnaissance by foot or in vehicle. Students will gain a direct appreciation of the terrain, risks and advantageous points in the landscape. This method of TEWT takes a little more planning, but provides the benefit of a real time appreciation of an actual piece of ground.
OT&V Training Conference
Since we announced the voluntary Health Surveillance Program a few weeks ago as part of CFA's response to the Professor Joy Report, the package has now been offered to 110 past and present members (who were identified as high risk of exposure). From this group, roughly 20 people are now enrolled in the program. The Health Surveillance Project team will continue to identify additional members who may be in the medium risk of exposure group.
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.
I am pleased to take this opportunity to issue my first formal communication to you since my commencement in the role of ‘Program Manager - Informing the Future' on Monday of last week. I feel honoured to have been given the opportunity to take on this important program of work, which is vital to ensuring the ongoing health and safety of our people, care for the environment, and the re-establishment of Fiskville College and the Regional Training Campuses as providers of best practice training for CFA volunteers, staff and other emergency services workers across the state.
Progress is being made with the implementation of the Voluntary Health Surveillance Program with some past and present members already registered for the program. We are taking every care we can when contacting people who we believe may be interested in the program in order to be respectful of their circumstance.
Speaking With Confidence:
Last week, along with Regional Director David Baker, Operations Manager David Renkin, DCO Steve Warrington and Executive Manager Community Capability Terry Hayes, I was privileged to attend the presentation of the Charter to the District 13 Toastmasters Club at Lilydale.
We will soon begin contacting present and past members identified in the Professor Joy Report as belonging to high and medium risk of exposure groups compared to all others who were at Fiskville between 1971 and 1999, inviting them to participate in the program.
There were a few of us that decided to stay back and have a coffee after the last turnout
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".
The Victorian Minister for Major Projects, Denis Napthine, has announced a new MFB training facility to be built at Craigieburn by 2014.
This week I visited staff at Fiskville, along with Deputy Chief Officer John Haynes, two consultants from Cardno Lane Piper and other members of my executive team.
The main purpose of our visit was to reiterate that business will continue as usual at Fiskville and any calls to close the site are unwarranted.
Cardno Lane Piper has been engaged by CFA to oversee improvements at Fiskville, including the fire training water management system.
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.
As you may be aware the Herald Sun recently reported on the quality of water being used for training purposes at Fiskville. We take very seriously the health, safety and wellbeing of our members and indeed all persons using the training facilities at Fiskville.
On 23rd October, 2011 Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth approved the regulations for a new medal in the Australian Honours System - the National Emergency Medal (NEM). This medal was established to recognise service to others during a nationally-significant emergency.
The meeting was productive and the Board will meet again soon for further discussions and to finalise the response.
The independent report and CFA's response will be released publicly together in the near future.
1. Get yourself sorted:
Preparing yourself, physically and mentally is vital to being able to approach this challenge with confidence. Being physically fit and having trained and practiced in challenging terrain was essential to a successful trek. Just as important was selecting the right gear, testing it and making sure everything was packed with a "minimalistic" approach (what you take someone has to carry...). Finally, keep your gear sorted. When the leader says "Five minutes to packs on!" - That's exactly what he means.
CFA has received some initial testing results from the independent National Association of Testing Authorities, Australia (NATA) laboratory for the Fiskville site.
We understand that the remaining tests will take longer to analyse but I will distribute the full report as they become available.
The CFA Board will consider the report before releasing it publicly along with its response.
I would like to reassure all CFA members - and other agencies that use the facility - that recent independent laboratory testing of water used for training purposes has been confirmed as meeting the health standards.
These discussion threads show that diversity is not just about women, as it was perhaps viewed 20 years ago. Diversity is about the young, the not-so-young; people living with disability and people from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds.
Fixed Training Infrastructure Project
In recent times we've made some good progression on the development of our Mobile and Fixed Training Infrastructure Projects.The purpose of the Fixed Training Infrastructure Project is to ensure that CFA's five regional Field Training Grounds (FTG) at Huntly, Wangaratta, Penshurst, Longerenong and West Sale, remain Training Ready and Fit for Purpose.
Independent Investigator Professor Rob Joy has confirmed that his report on historic practices at Fiskville will be delivered to the CFA Board on schedule by 30 June.
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!