Country Fire Authority

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Country Fire Authority
Country Fire Authority logo.png

CFAemblem.png
Official Logo of the Country Fire Authority (top) Official seal and emblem of the Country Fire Authority (bottom)
Established 1945
Location
Region served
CFA has a State headquarters and 5 regions across Victoria. Within these regions are 21 CFA districts.[2]
Services Combatant authority for fire, rescue and hazmat
Staff
1,086 career firefighters, 967 support staff and 35,796 volunteers[3]
Website www.cfa.vic.gov.au

Country Fire Authority, or CFA, is a fire service in Victoria, Australia, with other fire services being Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning (DELWP) and the Metropolitan Fire Brigade (MFB). The CFA provides firefighting and emergency services to rural areas and regional townships of Victoria, and to portions of the outer suburban areas of Melbourne not covered by the MFB. Australian emergency services, including CFA, can be summoned to assist by dialling the primary emergency service telephone number, 000. Mobile phones also allow a default emergency number, 112, to be dialled.

CFA has 35,595 volunteer firefighters (and 18,935 non-operational volunteer members) from Victorian rural and urban community areas.[4] These CFA volunteers support over 1,000 professional firefighters. In late May 2017, CFA announced they would be recruiting and training another 400 career firefighters. This will bring CFA's total career firefighting force up to nearly 1500 personnel. CFA works closely with the other emergency services, such as the MFB, the State Emergency Service, Victoria Police and Ambulance Victoria.

CFA falls under the portfolio of the Minister for Emergency Services, The Honourable James Merlino, who took on this role on 10 June 2016.[5] In 2016, Frances Diver was appointed Chief Executive Officer of CFA, commencing her role on 27 June 2016.[6] While this position was initially temporary, Ms Diver was reaffirmed as the ongoing CEO after six months in the role. CFA's current Chief Officer is Steve Warrington, promoted from his previous position as Deputy Chief Officer.[7]

History[edit]

The CFA was created on 2 April 1945 following significant bushfires during the period 1939-1944 which killed 114 people, destroyed nearly 1400 homes and damaged large areas of the state. Significant numbers of livestock also perished. Subsequent investigations showed a lack of cohesive firefighting ability outside the central metropolitan area. The CFA took over existing brigades, many of which had been established in the 19th or early 20th century.[8]

The CFA operates under the Country Fire Authority Act of 1958, as amended, and its Regulations.

Funding[edit]

CFA volunteers at a fire in a school classroom.

Since July 2013, fire services in Victoria have been funded by a fire service property levy on council rates. The CFA budgeted income for 2013–14 was $473m—$448m was provided by state government contributions, and $25m was internally generated (fees and charges, interest, donations, and sales of goods and services).[9]

Additional government funding can be provided for specific staffing or training improvements, major works, or during long-duration incidents. The CFA also receives some funding from the provision of goods and services to external bodies, including through Fire Equipment Maintenance (FEM). Individual brigades receive further funds from local councils, from their own fundraising activities and through donations from the community. Some fire brigades hold large amounts of community funds, which are used to purchase firefighting equipment, hold social events and brigade dinners, improve facilities and replace brigade-owned vehicles. Some brigades invest larger amounts of money to serve as an interest-earning vehicle, providing some financial security against fiscal downturns.

CFA structure[edit]

Regions and districts[edit]

The CFA field of operations in Victoria covers an area of more than 150,000 square kilometres with a population of 3.3 million people. It divides its operations into 5 regions, which are then subdivided into 21 districts.[10] The CFA regions are:

  • Loddon Mallee Region (North West)—districts 2, 14, 18 & 20
  • Grampians Region (West)—districts 15, 16 & 17
  • Barwon South-West Region (South West)—districts 4, 5, 6 & 7
  • Hume Region (North East)—districts 12, 13, 22, 23 & 24
  • Gippsland Region (South East)—districts 8, 9, 10, 11 & 27.

Fire brigades and resources[edit]

The CFA currently employs 1,086 career firefighters in densely populated urban areas, over 1,000 support staff, and can draw on 35,595 volunteer firefighters from local communities, as needed.

CFA resources include 1,220 brigades, of which 941 are rural volunteer brigades, 204 urban volunteer brigades, 35 integrated brigades (stations manned by professional firefighters and volunteers), 23 forest industry brigades, and 17 coast guard brigades.[11] The CFA's integrated fire brigades are in Ballarat City, Belmont, Bendigo, Boronia, Caroline Springs, Corio, Craigieburn, Cranbourne, Dandenong, Eltham, Frankston, Geelong City, Greenvale, Hallam, Hoppers Crossing, Melton, Mildura, Mornington, Morwell, Ocean Grove, Pakenham, Patterson River, Point Cook, Portland, Rosebud, Rowville, Shepparton, South Morang, South Warrandyte, Springvale, Sunbury, Traralgon, Wangaratta, Warrnambool, and Wodonga.[12]

The CFA operates more than 4,000 vehicles, including 1,970 4WD tankers, 264 pumpers, 11 hydraulic platform (aerial) trucks, 28 rescue tenders, 16 hazmat vehicles plus numerous other vehicles including communications vans, lighting trucks, command and transport vehicles. This fleet is supplemented by more than 1,400 brigade-owned vehicles. Brigade-owned vehicles are paid for by local communities, commonly with the assistance of government grants. CFA also lease a large fleet of firefighting aircraft to assist brigades throughout the busy Summer fire season. The fleet comprises rotary and fixed wing aircraft, from small single-engined planes up to Very Large Aerial Tankers based on commercial passenger jets.

The CFA has 1,200 base radios, 5,800 vehicle radios, 3,000 hand held radios, 35,000 EAS pagers, 58 satellite terminals and 10,700 pre-conference telephone interceptors.[12]

Coast guard brigades[edit]

CFA type 3 pumper at the 2009 Australian International Airshow

In 2005, the CFA signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the Australian Volunteer Coast Guard to establish CFA coast guard brigades.[13] Under the MoU, 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.[14] Additionally all coast guard members are to receive basic CFA firefighting training and some land brigades will receive marine firefighting training.[12]

Communications[edit]

In Victoria, the Emergency Services Telecommunications Authority (ESTA) provides dispatch and call-taking services for Police, Ambulance, State Emergency Service and both rural and metropolitan fire services. ESTA operates over three sites, located in Melbourne CBD, East Burwood, and Mount Helen, in Ballarat.

Many ESTA practices and protocols are standardised across all emergency services, allowing all agencies to utilise the same computer network. This enables complete and instantaneous information sharing between emergency services.[15]

When a caller dials 000 for emergency response within Victoria, a Telstra operator will connect them to the relevant ESTA facility, where call-takers collect information from the caller for entry into the Computer Aided Dispatch (CAD) system. Using this information, a dispatcher will respond the appropriate emergency 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).

When ESTA is notified of a fire or incident, they send an emergency message via pager to volunteers or career firefighters. While this is usually the result of a call to 000, brigades or appliances may also be dispatched by other agencies such as Victoria Police or Ambulance Victoria, or at the request of an Incident Controller on scene. 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 area, neighbouring brigades or specific appliances may be dispatched 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 large structural fires.

ESTA is also responsible for Victoria's State Emergency Service call-taking and dispatch for non life-threatening storm damage or flooding via 132 500.[16]

Fire districts[edit]

Victoria is divided into nine fire districts:[17]

  • Mallee
  • Wimmera
  • South West
  • Northern Country
  • North Central
  • Central
  • North East
  • East Gippsland
  • West and South Gippsland.

The CFA announces fire danger ratings, total fire ban declarations and fire restrictions, which apply to all municipalities within a fire district:

  • The Fire Danger Ratings are forecast for four days.
  • A Total Fire Ban is declared for each district by CFA on days when fires are likely to spread rapidly and could be difficult to control, and means that no fires can be lit for the declared district for that day—irrespective of the Fire Restriction status for a given municipality.
  • Fire Restrictions come into force when entered into the Government Gazette.

Operational Ranks[edit]

CFA provides separate rank structures to cater for Volunteer Firefighters and Career Staff Firefighters. CFA systems allow for seamless joint operations by Volunteer and Staff firefighters.

Not all CFA positions are listed.

Operational Rank Volunteer
Group Officer
Deputy Group Officer
Captain
Lieutenant
Firefighter
Operational Rank Staff
Chief Officer
Deputy Chief Officer
Assistant Chief Officer
Operations Manager
Operations Officer
Senior Station Officer
Station Officer
Leading Firefighter
Qualified Firefighter
Firefighter

Anticipated Changes[edit]

On 19 May 2017, Premier Daniel Andrews and Minister for Emergency Services James Merlino announced changes to the Victorian Fire Services.[18] The changes will see all Victorian Fire Services respond to incidents as they previously have. A website explaining the changes states "a new organisation – Fire Rescue Victoria – will bring together MFB and CFA career firefighters to serve metropolitan Melbourne and major regional centres. Victoria’s 1,220 CFA volunteer brigades will be strengthened and supported to serve and protect their communities as they always have".[19]

Included in the changes will be the introduction of Presumptive Rights to Cancer Compensation for both Volunteer and Professional Firefighters. The Premier recognised medical and scientific studies which prove a "clear medical link between cancer and firefighting" and stated in a media release "the Government will introduce legislation which recognises the challenges that Firefighters have faced in accessing compensation for cancer and establishes a legal presumption that the cause of their cancer is firefighting." Minister for Emergency Services James Merlino spoke of the frustration surrounding the issue when he explained that "long-awaited Presumptive Cancer Rights for Volunteer and Career Firefighters were denied by the previous Liberal Government, but they will now be delivered".[20]

CFA have released a fact sheet to identify important information and answer some questions that people may have.[21]

Training[edit]

"CFA's regional training campuses allow firefighters to experience operational scenarios, including live fires in a safe, controlled and realistic environment.
This is essential in developing and maintaining all skills needed to fulfil the mission of protecting lives and property in Victorian communities."[22]

The CFA operates seven Regional Training Campuses:

In May 2017, CFA announced the construction, to commence in early 2018, of a new training facility, in the town of Ballan, about 70 kilometres West of Melbourne. It is envisaged the new training grounds will be utilised predominantly by CFA's volunteer members, while CFA's career firefighters now attend the VEMTEC college in Melbourne's Northern Suburbs. Expanding urban and industrial zones inside CFA's areas of response, are necessitating the building of additional Integrated fire stations and the employment of more career firefighting personnel. Professional firefighters are employed following an exhaustive selection process, and must complete their initial station-based probationary learning period, followed by 4 years of practical and theory subjects relevant to the occupation. Firefighters achieving this level with sufficient subject marks, are promoted to the rank of Qualified Firefighter. They may then commence studies for assessment and promotion to the ranks of Leading Firefighter, Station Officer and Senior Station Officer.

Volunteer members must complete Wildfire "minimum skills" training before being classed as competent to respond to fire and emergency calls. "Minimum Skills" consists of the following training modules:[23]

  • PUAFIR201 - Prevent Injury
  • PUAOHS002 - Maintain Safety at an Incident Scene
  • PUAFIR204 - Respond to Wildfire
  • PUAFIR309 - Operate Pumps
  • PUAOPE002 - Operate Communication Systems and Equipment
  • PUATEA001 - Work in a Team

Major incidents[edit]

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

CFA deployments have also assisted during interstate fires such as the Sydney fires in 2002 and the 2003 Canberra bushfires. In late 2015, CFA firefighters were deployed to the South Australian fires, in support of CFS and SAFS crews. During February and March 2016, hundreds of CFA volunteer and career firefighters were deployed across Bass Strait, where they assisted Tasmanian firefighters working on the North West Tasmanian fires. Many CFA firefighting, communications and specialist vehicles were ferried over as well.

Activities[edit]

The CFA is also involved in some non-firefighting operations. CFA has a leading role in Prevention, Preparedness, Response and Recovery of Fires and other Incidents.[24] The CFA is responsible for all fires on Private land in Victoria outside of the Metropolitan Fire District 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[25] and Fire Safe Kids. Fire Safe Kids is an education program for Pre-Primary and Primary School students which teaches Fire Safety and the Role of Firefighters in the Community.[26]

A burn-off for fire prevention

CFA is responsible, along with other Victorian emergency services, for some 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
  • Emergency Medical Response
    Thanks to a $46.7 million contribution by the State Labor Government, the EMR program has been expanded to all 35 Integrated CFA Fire Stations. Professional firefighters are trained to respond to medical emergencies in order to improve the chance of the patient's survival. "CFA Chief Officer Steve Warrington said the program sees firefighters and paramedics dispatched at the same time to assist in a life-threatening medical emergency."[27] Some volunteer brigades were involved in an initial trial and there are now three volunteer brigades: Berwick, Edithvale and Whittlesea, that may be called upon to assist Ambulance Victoria.

Representative Bodies[edit]

Volunteer Fire Brigades Victoria (VFBV) was established under the Country Fire Authority Act 1958 to represent volunteer fire brigades and work with CFA and the Victorian Government to ensure ongoing commitment to the principles outlined by the Volunteer Charter.[28]
The Victorian Branch of the United Firefighters Union of Australia (UFU) was established January 22, 1911 and represents career firefighters throughout Victoria.[29] Volunteer firefighters may join the UFU as associate members. The UFU funds valuable research into firefighting technologies to benefit both professional and volunteer firefighters.
In November 2016, a third representative body came into being. The Victorian Volunteer Firefighters Association (VVFA) was established 4 October 2016,[30] and represents individual volunteer firefighters, a move stemming from recognition that VFBV focus on brigades as a whole, rather than on individual volunteer members.

Championships[edit]

VFBV organise, promote and conduct the Urban and Rural State Fire Brigade Championships. In this series of sporting heats, Volunteer brigades compete in events based on past, and some modified present firefighting practices. In 2017, the Rural State Championships were held at Wodonga, on April 1 & 2. The 2017 State Junior Championships were held at Tatura, on February 25 & 26.
The State Urban Championships took place in Bendigo over the Labour Day weekend[31] with the Grand Aggregate results as below:

A Class
Maryvale, 88 points
Kangaroo Flat, 77 points
Narre Warren, 41 points
B Class
Tatura, 75 points
Benalla, 45 points
Geelong West, 32 points
C Class
Pakenham, 84 points
Hoppers Crossing, 53 points
Eaglehawk, 51 points

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ CFA Annual Report 2015-16
  2. ^ Contact Us (accessed 25 August 2016)
  3. ^ CFA Annual Report 2015-16
  4. ^ "CFA at a Glance". Country Fire Authority. Retrieved 22 April 2017. 
  5. ^ Parliament of Victoria - Ministers Database (accessed 7.06 PM 17 June 2016)
  6. ^ Appointment of new CFA CEO (accessed 7.06 PM 17 June 2016)
  7. ^ CO Steve Warrington message (accessed 4.17 PM 28 July 2016)
  8. ^ History - Country Fire Authority (accessed 30 September 2015)
  9. ^ CFA Funding
  10. ^ Editor Sigley, G. (2008). Brigade Magazine, Winter Edition. Country Fire Authority.
  11. ^ http://www.cfa.vic.gov.au/about/stations/#sthash.YExSuSkP.dpuf
  12. ^ a b c CFA Annual Report 2013. Accessed 10 April 2010
  13. ^ Conference Proceedings Website. Accessed 21 November 2008
  14. ^ CFA Annual Report 2008 - Operations Report. Accessed 21 November 2008
  15. ^ "Centralised service for triple-0 calls". 30 November 2012. Retrieved 1 December 2012. 
  16. ^ Emergency Call-Taking & Dispatch Accessed 06 October 2016
  17. ^ Find your fire district
  18. ^ Premier of Victoria 19 May 2017
  19. ^ Fire Services in Victoria 19 May 2017
  20. ^ Premier of Victoria 19 May 2017
  21. ^ Government Reforms to Fire Services in Victoria 24 May 2017
  22. ^ Training Campuses Environmental Management & Safety Accessed 06 October 2016
  23. ^ [Bushfire Firefighter Reference Manual Edition 1 February 2011]
  24. ^ CFA Annual Report Report of Operations Accessed 21 November 2008
  25. ^ Fire Ready Victoria Accessed 21 November 2008
  26. ^ Fire Safe Kids Accessed 06 October 2016
  27. ^ [news.cfa.vic.gov.au/news/more-cfa-stations-now-emr-capable More CFA stations now EMR capable]
  28. ^ Our Role VFBV 29 July 2016
  29. ^ 100 Years of the United Firefighters Union UFU Victoria 22 January 2011
  30. ^ VVFA About Us
  31. ^ Upcoming Championships VFBV 23 September 2016

External links[edit]

Related links[edit]