Training is currently being delivered across ten ICC (Incident Control Centre) facilities around Districts 12 and 22, with potential for the program to rolled out in Districts 23 and 24.
Senior Training Instructor Andrew Payne-Croston, who is responsible for putting together and running the courses says that it was important to identify people who can bring valuable life skills to the table.
“We’ve gone through our local networks and found people who able and willing, and might have experience in data management, administration or logistics because of their working background,” he says.
“The difference with this initiative is that the people we are training don’t necessarily have specialist fire knowledge – about 20 per cent of them aren’t CFA members - but they will support the Incident Controller and Operations who provide that subject matter expertise.
“The kind of people we are working with do need to be highly organized and comfortable doing a whole range of functional tasks under pressure. .
“In Tungamah for example we have trained the local postmistress because she has the right life skills for the job. In another case there is a brigade member with an army background and experience running logistics in Afghanistan,” says Andrew.
Andrew describes Level 2 Incident Control Centres as a vital link between the fireground and the District RDO (Rostered Duty Officer), supporting and maintaining systems that allow firefighters to concentrate on working safely and effectively.
“People in the field get pretty tied up with looking at the red stuff and when things get to a certain point you need the support of planners behind the scenes.
The challenge for Hume and other regions is to make sure the right resources are available to fill the necessary roles both on the fireground and at the ICC. A long range view also has to be taken - succession planning is needed for Level 3 management in the future.
Says Andrew: “In times gone by, people used to wear multiple hats. But what we found was that when they were needed in the Level Two facility, they were out on the truck.
“What we need are people earmarked for the ICC roles so that both our systems and our people are ready to go when the time comes and everyone has a clear idea of where they’ll be.
The training that Andrew is delivering is designed to simulate an incident situation as closely as possible, even throwing participants into scenarios such as loss of power.
“We follow the “train as you fight” philosophy a closely as possible,” he says. “That means sticking closely to certain processes during training so they become habits.
“Each session is followed up with an ‘After Action Review’ where the group talks about what could be done better. The participants are almost always spot on with their observations so I rarely have to add anything.”
See also: Sector Commander mountain training