Country Fire Authority

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Country Fire Authority
CFAemblem.png
Official Seal and Emblem of the Country Fire Authority
Established: 1945
Regions: 20
Specialities: Combatant Authority for Fire, Rescue and Hazmat
Volunteers: ~59,000
Paid Staff: 1,650+
Brigades: 1222
Location: Victoria, Australia
Website www.cfa.vic.gov.au

Country Fire Authority, or CFA, is the fire service that provides firefighting and other emergency services to all of the country areas and regional townships within the state of Victoria, Australia, as well as large portions of the outer suburban areas and growth corridors of Melbourne not covered by the Metropolitan Fire Brigade. In the event of an emergency in Australia, emergency services including the CFA can be called by dialling 000.

CFA, as it is commonly known, draws the majority of its officers and members from the local community on a volunteer basis. In the larger urban areas, CFA employees professional career firefighters to support the volunteers. These stations are manned on a full time basis.

The CFA works closely with the other emergency services within Victoria namely being the State Emergency Service, Victoria Police, Ambulance Victoria and the Metropolitan Fire Brigade working together with unique skill sets and resources for the betterment and safety of all Victorians.

The current Chairman of CFA is Claire Higgins. Its Chief Executive Officer is Mick Bourke, and its operational Chief Officer of CFA is Euan Ferguson.[2]

The CFA falls under the portfolio of the Minister for Police and Emergency Services, Kim Wells.

History[edit]

CFA operates under the Country Fire Authority Act of 1958, its amendments and Regulations. This legislation was brought about by significant bushfires during the period 1939-1944 which killed 114 people and destroyed nearly 1400 homes while also damaging large areas of the state and destroying significant amounts of stock. Subsequent investigations showed the lack of a cohesive firefighting agency outside the central metropolitan area and CFA was born on 2 April 1945. Many of its brigades however were established in the 19th century or early in the 20th century.[3]

CFA is one of the world's largest volunteer based firefighting organisations. It services more than 150,000 square kilometres and 3.3 million people, and currently has approximately 15,000 to 20,000 active volunteers (25,000 support) with over 550 career firefighters and about 1,100 career support staff.[4]

Funding[edit]

CFA volunteers at a fire in a school classroom.

Fire Services in Victoria are now funded (since July 2013) by a fire service levy on council rates. In the past CFA was funded on a 77.5%/22.5% split where Insurance companies provide 77.5% of the funding through fire levies on insurance policies and the Victorian Government provides 22.5% of the funding.[5] In 2006/2007 Insurance companies provided $180.8m and $51.1m was provided from the State Government. The CFA also receives small amounts of funding from the provision of goods and services to external bodies. Additional funding from the government is also provided during serious long duration bushfires.

Individual brigades receive further funds from local councils, from their own fundraising activities and from donations from the community. Some fire brigades hold rather large amounts of community funds and investments. Sometimes this money is used to purchase important equipment and CFA allows funding of competitions between brigades - both locally and interstate.

CFA Brigades[edit]

Fire Brigades[edit]

Logo of the Country Fire Authority

There are 1209 brigades (1023 rural, 252 urban and some just brigades) operating out of 1,186 rural, urban and integrated fire stations [6] with more than 2300 vehicles across 20 Districts in eight Regions.[7] The Brigades are split up into Regions, Districts then Groups with each division having less brigades in each, however in Urban locations the Region may be the same as the District. There are Eight "Regions", Twenty "Districts" and many Groups. All brigades are in a District and a Region, but may not fall into a group. The CFA's Regions are:[8]

  • Barwon Southwest Region -Includes Districts 4, 5, 6 & 7
  • Gippsland -Includes Districts 9, 10 & 11
  • Loddon Mallee Region -Includes Districts 2, 18 & 20
  • Hume Region -Includes Districts 12, 22, 23 & 24
  • Grampians Region -Includes Districts 15, 16 & 17
  • Northern and Western Metropolitan Region -District 14
  • Southern Metropolitan Region -District 8
  • Eastern Metropolitan Region -District 13

Coast Guard Brigades[edit]

In 2005 the CFA signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the Australian Volunteer Coast Guard to create CFA Coast Guard brigades.[9] All Victorian Coast Guard Vessels will have CFA Radios installed, EAS (Emergency Alerting System) pagers as used by the CFA as well as basic firefighting tools including a small pump and hoses.[10] Additionally all Coast Guard members are to receive basic CFA firefighting training and some land brigades will receive marine firefighting training.

CFA resources[edit]

Vehicles[edit]

CFA Type 3 Pumper at the 2009 Australian International Airshow

The CFA owned vehicles consist of nearly 1300 Tankers, 250 Pumpers, 7 Aerial Appliances (telescopic ladders), 30 Rescue Units and various other special purpose and Command and Support vehicles. This fleet is supplemented by more than 1,400 brigade owned vehicles. Brigade owned vehicles are bought and paid for by the individual brigades and communities (sometimes with the assistance of Victorian Government grants) to allow extension of brigade firefighting capability. There are a total of over 4000 vehicles in operation.[11]

Communications[edit]

In the state of Victoria, emergency service dispatch and call-taking for Police, Ambulance, and both rural and metropolitan fire services, is handled by the Emergency Services Telecommunications Authority (ESTA). ESTA operates over three sites, located in the Melbourne CBD, East Burwood, and Mount Helen, in Ballarat. When a person calls 000 for emergency response within Victoria, the Telstra operator will connect him or her to the relevant ESTA facility, where a trained calltaker will collect information from the caller, and enter this into the Computer Aided Dispatch (CAD) system. Using this information, a trained dispatcher will respond with the appropriate emergency services or resources. Services are often already being notified by the dispatcher while the call-taker is still obtaining further information or giving advice, such as guiding the caller through CPR (Cardiopulmonary resuscitation).

ESTA is also responsible for Victorian State Emergency Service call-taking and dispatch, although this service cannot be contacted by dialling 000, as SES calls are not considered to be life-threatening.

Many ESTA practices and protocols are standardised across all emergency services agencies, and all agencies use the same computer network. The result is complete and instantaneous information sharing between emergency services.[12]

Most CFA firefighters are issued an EAS (Emergency Alerting System) Pager[13] These pagers allow Emergency, Non-Emergency and Administration messages to be sent to members either individually or by groups of people. Brigades are dispatched based on various factors including the time of day, location and type of fire or incident. Although each fire brigade has a primary response zone, other neighboring brigades or specific appliances may be responded as support to the primary brigade. This is especially the case where specialist skills or equipment are needed, such as for road accident rescue or very large structural fires.

When the emergency dispatcher is notified of a fire or incident, he or she sends an Emergency-type message to volunteers or CFA career firefighters via EAS Pager. When this is received by the brigade members, firefighters respond to their station and from there will "turn out" firefighting appliances. While these calls usually come from VicFire (ESTA dispatch) as a result of a call to 000, brigades or appliances may also be responded by other dispatch agencies such as D24 (Victoria Police dispatch) or at the request of incident controllers. Other emergency service providers such as Ambulance Victoria and the Victorian State Emergency Service may also request that CFA brigades be responded to an incident.

The CFA has 1,200 base radios, 5,800 mobile radios (mounted on vehicles), 3,000 portable radios (hand held), 35,000 pagers on the EAS network, 58 satellite terminals and 10,700 pre-conference interceptors.[11]

Training[edit]

The CFA Operates seven major training facilities at the South Eastern Training Ground (SETG) in Bangholme, Penshurst in Western Victoria, Longerenong (near Horsham), Bendigo, the Gippsland Fire Training Complex in West Sale,[14] Wangaratta and Fiskville near Bacchus Marsh.[15] Fiskville is the largest training facility in Victoria and is where Metropolitan Fire Brigade and CFA staff firefighters receive basic training. Fiskville has three precincts including a Hospitality Precinct, a Teaching Centre and Admin Precinct and a PAD Precinct[16] SETG near Carrum is the major Training facility for outer metropolitan brigades, which includes Lecture facilities as well as flammable liquid spill, Gas Attack and Breathing Apparatus training areas[17]

All members are required to undertake Wildfire "Minimum Skills" training before turning out in a fire truck. This consists of five basic training modules including:[18]

  • Personal Protection
  • Map Reading
  • Wildfire Behaviour
  • Wildfire Suppression
  • Wildfire Communication

Major incidents[edit]

The CFA has been involved in a number of major fires over the years where lives have been lost, including:

The CFA has also been involved in combatting interstate fires such as the Sydney fires in 2002 and the 2003 Canberra bushfires.

Activities[edit]

The CFA is involved in other non-firefighting operations. The CFA has a leading role in Prevention, Preparedness, Response and Recovery of Fires and other Incidents.[19] The CFA is responsible for all fires on Private land in Victoria outside of the Metropolitan Fire Brigade area including Structure Fires and Bushfires. The CFA has a shared responsibility for Rescues with the Victorian State Emergency Service. In addition to its Response activities members also run prevention programs such as Fire Ready Victoria[20] and Brigades in Schools.

A burn-off for fire prevention

The CFA is also responsible for specialist response functions, including -

  • Confined Space Rescue
  • Trench Rescue
  • High Angle Rescue
  • Road Accident Rescue
  • Industrial Rescue
  • Urban Search and Rescue (USAR)
  • Aviation Response
  • Marine Response
  • Hazardous Materials Response
  • Chemical, Biological, Radiological (CBR) Response

United Firefighters Union and the Volunteer Association[edit]

The group associated with the CFA is Volunteer Fire Brigades Victoria (VFBV)[21] which was created following the merger of the Victorian Urban Fire Brigades' Association (VUFBA), and the Victorian Rural Fire Brigades' Association (VRFBA). The role of these organisations is to represent the interests of volunteers of urban and rural fire brigades, and deal with the CFA Board, state and federal governments.

United Firefighters Union of Australia (UFU). The UFU is the Union that represents the career firefighters in the CFA,[22] however volunteer firefighters are able to join as Associate Members. The UFU also funds valuable research into firefighting technologies which benefit both career/volunteer firefighters.

The VFBV is also responsible for running the Urban and Rural (respectively) State Championships held each year. These competitions involve brigades from around the state competing in a range of events which are based on current and past fire fighting practices.

Firestar Rose[edit]

The official Rose of the CFA is the "firestar" which was introduced in 2010. The rose will be sold by the individual brigades to raise funds and is named after the distinctive shape of the volunteer fire fighter badge.[23]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ http://www.cfa.vic.gov.au/about/index.htm
  2. ^ CFA Connect Article - New CFA Chief Offcer (accessed 11 October 2010)
  3. ^ History - Country Fire Authority website (accessed 10 May 2007)
  4. ^ About CFA - Country Fire Authority website (accessed 6 October 2011)
  5. ^ Now funded by a levy placed on all land by local councils, on behalf of the state government.CFA Funding Page.
  6. ^ http://www.cfa.vic.gov.au/about/stations/#sthash.YExSuSkP.dpuf
  7. ^ [Editor Sigley, G. (2008). Brigade Magazine, Winter Edition. Country Fire Authority.]
  8. ^ CFA Our Structure Page. Accessed 11 October 2010
  9. ^ Conference Proceedings Website. Accessed 21 November 2008
  10. ^ CFA Annual Report 2008 - Operations Report. Accessed 21 November 2008
  11. ^ a b CFA Annual Report 2009. Accessed 10 April 2010
  12. ^ "Centralised service for triple-0 calls". www.abc.net.au. 30 November 2012. Retrieved 1 December 2012. 
  13. ^ Emergency Services Telecommunications Authority - Projects Page. Accessed 22 November 2008
  14. ^ Gippsland Information Directory CFA Page. Accessed 21 November 2008
  15. ^ CFA Training Facilities
  16. ^ Ballarat Community Tourism directory CFA Page. Accessed 21 November 2008
  17. ^ Tasmanian Fire Service SETG Page. Accessed 21 November 2008
  18. ^ Hampton Park CFA Volunteering Webpage. Accessed 21 November 2008
  19. ^ CFA Annual Report Report of Operations. Accessed 21 November 2008.
  20. ^ Fire Ready Victoria. Accessed 21 November 2008
  21. ^ Volunteer Fire Brigades Victoria About Page Accessed Friday 21 November 2008
  22. ^ United Firefighters Union Eligibility of Membership Accessed Friday 21 November 2008
  23. ^ http://www.firestar.org.au/why/

External links[edit]

Related links[edit]