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AUGUST 2016 Edition is available now....
All CFA members work together to benefit community
Comments by Craig Lapsley,
Emergency Management Commissioner
IT HAS BEEN A DIFFICULT FEW MONTHS in the emergency management sector with so much focus on CFA and its people. Victoria has a new Emergency Services Minister in James Merlino, and CFA has a new CEO, Frances Diver, Chief Officer, Steve Warrington, Board Chair Greg Smith and eight person board and I welcome all.
CFA is a long standing fire service with strong community connection and values, and an unparalleled history of serving the Victorian community across Victoria. This should not be underestimated. It is an urban and rural fire service that operates throughout the outer metropolitan areas, regional and rural Victoria with both volunteer and career firefighters. Regardless of who they are and where, they work hard 24/7, 365 days a year for and with their communities. Victoria has come to rely on them.
In some locations CFA has volunteer and career firefighters in an integrated model. They work side-by-side, respect each other and are each respected for the work they undertake.
A strength of recent years is the move to work closer together and progress has been good. As we evolve and change to address future challenges, it is critical that we continue to work together for the benefit of the Victorian community. It is essential for the future of emergency management.
We acknowledge that our community relies on the work of both volunteer and career firefighters, not just in times of emergencies but all year round and it is vital that the role of volunteers in this state is protected and understood.
As the Emergency Management Commissioner, I have been tasked with overseeing implementation of the CFA Operational Enterprise Agreement once it has been signed, with a key focus of ensuring the role of volunteers is protected and the crucial work they do to keep Victorians safe is not undermined.
Implementing the CFA Agreement will become an extension of my role as the Emergency Management Commissioner, in line with my legislative responsibility to maintain and safeguard the fundamental importance of volunteers in the performance of emergency management functions in Victoria.
In overseeing the implementation of any Agreement, it will be fundamental to work with volunteer and career firefighters, the CFA Board, Volunteer Fire Brigades Victoria (VFBV), the United Firefighters Union (UFU) and the Government, in conjunction with the Fair Work Commission. We need to support each other and focus on doing what is best for CFA. This is not about politics or emotions. It is not about choosing sides. We pride ourselves on working together as one, and this has never been more important than right now. We must band together and support one another, especially through these difficult times and times when change is fundamental. As Emergency Management Commissioner, I am committed to working with all parties in a fair and transparent manner throughout the implementation process. We must continue to work together, respect each other and treat each other with a view that the service we all provide is for the community and not for ourselves.
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EVENT A COMMUNITY SAFETY SUCCESS STORY
On 27 July Ferntree Gully Fire Brigade again hosted its ‘Fun-Time, Story-Time’ at the fire station with over 200 children, parents and grandparents attending what was again a most successful day. Feedback from those attending was extremely positive.
This event, which is usually held two or three times per year in partnership with the Eastern Regional Library Ferntree Gully Branch, has been running for three years. It has proven a major event success for Ferntree Gully Fire Brigade and a perfect way to engage residents of all ages from local and surrounding areas and pass on key fire safety messages.
For the first time Community Educator April Himmelreich from The Basin Fire Brigade presented her pantomime to enthralled youngsters. Her presentation included songs which delivered a fire safety message to the youngsters on ‘what it means if a smoke detector beeps?’ Her inclusion to the day certainly added greatly to the success.
The children were entertained by a story reading from former Captain Alan Waters (Bayswater). His reading of “Where is the Green Sheep” further enthused the children attending.
The budding young firefighters also had the opportunity to squirt a little water under the close supervision of Ferntree Gully Brigade firefighters. This is always of highlight for the youngsters who attend these days.
The fun-time, story-time days have time and time again proven to be an effective learning day for those who attend, regardless of age, and provides a perfect opportunity for Ferntree Gully Brigade members to discuss community safety with the parents and grandparents and answer a range of different questions put to them by the adults.
Whilst the children were being happily entertained at the most recent event the key message being promoted on the day was the fact that WORKING smoke detectors really do save lives and property and are best fitted in each room of a home.
So far, over 1200 people have attended these sessions.
CHALLENGING TIME FOR CFA
By Chief Officer Steve Warrington
I feel privileged to have been appointed CFA Chief Officer for a six month period and am passionate and proud of the organisation and what CFA achieves both on and off the frontline
It’s absolutely been a challenging time for CFA, compounded by intense media interest and a range of different views on the Operational Enterprise Agreement, but I reiterate the importance of not letting this discussion overshadow or impact the important role that CFA has in serving the community.
Over the 2015-16 financial year CFA attended more than 40,000 incidents. More than 6000 of these were motor vehicle accidents/rescue and emergency medical response events and approximately 14,360 were fires.
Of the 14,360 fire events 3860 of these were structure fires. Almost 4000 hazmat events also formed part of this total. These statistics demonstrate that CFA is much more than a seasonal fire service.
It’s also timely to acknowledge that CFA averages 10,000 more incidents now than 10 years ago. CFA will need to continue to evolve to meet this increasing demand. We have been progressing an overarching service delivery operating model that will inform our structure at the State level and support future requirements. The model has the community at the centre with a focus on urban, bushfire, community risk and resilience and statewide service delivery and safety.
A key program with a ‘community focus’ is Safer Together. Safer Together commits the sector to a risk-based and community focused approach to bushfire management. It sets expectations on fire and land managers to work together and in partnership with communities to tailor bushfire management to local needs.
The first phase of the program across 2016/17 is focussed on improving the effectiveness of the Government’s fuel management program by applying a risk reduction target to fuel management on public land, and working more effectively with communities to plan for delivery of our fuel management activities.
Many Districts are already working with their DELWP counterparts in identifying priority communities under Safer Together and Districts currently have community engagement and prescribed burning plans in place. Opportunities for ‘joined up’ work are being explored. Identifying communities of common interest is one such opportunity.
At the time of writing, we’re probably about 100 days away from the start of the summer season and I urge you to participate in the pre-season briefings that are being scheduled, to stay connected and informed.
Current predictions indicate an average fire season but the Southern Australian Bushfire Seasonal Outlook, scheduled for release at the end of August will confirm the prediction.
I thank everyone for their ongoing support and commitment and look forward to engaging with many of you over the coming months.
fighters up to date on developments within the organisation. It has also given brigades and
firefighters an opportunity to contribute items and make comments on a wide range of