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FEBRUARY 2017 Edition is available now....
A secret plan to carve
up fire services? I was intrigued by a recent report in the Herald Sun which suggested that the Andrews Government was secretly investigating “a radical plan to divide Victoria’s fire services into volunteer and career forces . . . in a desperate bid to end the CFA saga.” Could it be true that, at last, the Government is listening to what many rural CFA volunteers have been saying for months - and some for years? In my article in June 2016 edition of what I grudgingly refer to as ‘Fire Wise’, I pleaded for an open debate on the future of CFA. However, apart from numerous private expressions of support for the idea of CFA reverting to its roots and once again becoming a rural-based fire service, with a major reappraisal of the hopelessly outdated CFA-MFB boundaries established in 1945, there has been a deafening silence from the emergency services bureaucracy. This seems to be a common tactic nowadays. Rather than engaging in a serious and constructive debate - or even dismissing the idea out of hand - CFA prefers to ignore the matter altogether and just hopes it will go away. VFBV has done the same. They just want to deprive it of oxygen. Why? I can only surmise that it is all about ‘empire.’ CFA has become a large, unwieldy, remote, unresponsive and self-perpetuating bureaucracy. To many rural volunteers, it may as well be located on another planet. Today it would be totally unrecognisable to the impressive volunteer leaders who founded it more than 70 years ago. Of course CFA’s pre-occupation with Greater Melbourne is understandable, given that this densely populated area, much of which is still CFA territory, accounts for so many complex incidents. Out in the bush, the problems - and the culture - are radically different. Rural firefighters would be out of their depth dealing with fires in multi-storey buildings or industrial sites. Conversely, urban fire-fighters would struggle with fast-running grass and bushfires. Sadly, that has been proved in the past. Why do the bureaucrats keep denying this reality, and insist on glib slogans like ‘one CFA’ and ‘all communities, all emergencies?’ It will be interesting to see whether the ‘secret’ proposal mentioned in the Herald Sun will progress or not. Is it really radical? Hardly. A similar structure has been in place in New South Wales and South Australia for years, and the former CFA Chief Officer Euan Ferguson, recommended a new “rural fire service” in his report on last summer’s fires in Western Australia. It could even be a ‘win-win’ situation. Just imagine it: the long-running and ugly stand-off between volunteer and paid fire-fighters could be defused. Maybe representatives of the UFU, the Government and rural volunteers could even meet in the same room at the same times and shake hands on a deal! Impossible? Perhaps not. It just needs some political will. Of course, it would not be easy. An ‘unnamed source’ in the Herald Sun article identified issues with volunteers in the urban fringe areas, potential problems with surge capacity and the cost of recruiting many extra career firefighters. But let us at least talk about the issues instead of ignoring them. Bring it on! PETER FLINN Dunkeld
Welcome to the website of ‘The Fireman’, the longest running publication
within Victoria’s country fire service.
A monthly publication, ‘The Fireman’ is fully supported by Country Fire Authority and is the official publication of Volunteer Fire Brigades Victoria and CFA State Rescue Association and supported by CFA.
The National Fire Danger Rating (FDR) system was a key change resulting from the 2009 Victorian Black Saturday Bushfires.
The FDR system provides the community with a graduated level of fire risk that is supported by what each rating means and what action you should take.
This is a fundamental system that provides pre-emptive information with a four day view of the FDRs in the nine Victorian weather districts. This is all focused on members of the community making informed decisions about their safety.
The FDR is one of the critical decision points for community and is supported by a well-considered evidence based framework.
The Total Fire Ban (TFB) declaration is supplementary to the FDR. The TFB is centred around mitigating against fires starting by placing restrictions on the use of equipment such as grinders and axels and food preparation, for example BBQs.
Monday 30 January was forecast to be one of the most significant fire weather days we've had this summer. Victorians were right on it, and while the cooler change moved through Melbourne earlier, the north of the state remained hot and windy. We've had a number of fairly small fires only. But what the day has highlighted again is the Victorian reliance on total fire bans as an indication that things are serious. Total fire bans are an important preventative tool but in a community sense, a fire danger rating is what tells us how bad a fire will be if started and what that means for community safety.
Prior to 2009, the TFB was used in Victoria as the community trigger, however, the move to using FDRs as the primary trigger supported by TFB is the modern approach and rightly so.
Fire Safety campaigns are underpinned by the FDR as the method to provide better information, leading to better decisions, resulting in better outcomes and therefore, a safer Victorian community.
It’s important that as a sector we continue to talk about the importance of FDRs to prompt the community to consider what action they will take.
LEARNING BY DOING: CFA BURN CAMPS
PLANNED BURNING REDUCES BUSHFIRE RISK by increasing the likelihood of suppression and reducing radiant heat and ember impacts on assets. It is a high risk activity that requires qualified and experienced personnel to conduct. Theory is not much use without the practical component. This is where CFA Burn Training Camps come in. It provides opportunities for CFA members to learn by doing.
CFA Burn Camps expose volunteers to live fire in a controlled learning environment; where mentoring and coaching can occur. At the camps, volunteers gain vital experience in aspects of introducing fire to the land under controlled conditions. The experience gained also has direct benefits in building skills for fire response and suppression. Burn Camps provide CFA volunteers and Operational staff with an opportunity to enhance or acquire new skills required to conduct planned burns. Burn Camps are variable in duration and designed to run over a number of days and include weekends, in order to encourage volunteer participation. A CFA Burn Camp is led by a team of experienced mentors and instructors. Attendees may nominate which days and how many days they wish to attend. Burn Camps are fully catered and offer shared accommodation in cabins or bunk houses. There is no cost to participants. Special dietary requirements can be catered for. Burn Camp can be in hilly and sometimes difficult terrain. Participants must be fit and prepared to spend much of their day in the field. CFA Burn Camps are planned to run at the following locations in autumn 2017.
CFA South East Region CFA District 8 Mornington Peninsula: 30 March – 3 April 2017 Contact: VMO Gareth George on 0409 872 100 or email Gareth.George@cfa. vic.gov.au
For further information contact your local CFA Vegetation Management Officer. For more information on planned burning visit: http://cfaonline.cfa.vic.gov.au/mycfa/Show?pageId=intraPlannedBurning and http:// www.cfa.vic.gov.au/about/planned-burns/
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