Country Fire Authority

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Country Fire Authority
Official seal and emblem of the Country Fire Authority
Established 1945
Region served
CFA has a State headquarters and 5 regions across Victoria. Within these regions are 21 CFA districts.[1]
Services Combatant authority for fire, rescue and hazmat
1219 brigades[2]
2100+ paid staff including 1000+ career firefighters

Country Fire Authority, more commonly referred to as the CFA, is one of the fire services in Victoria, Australia, the other being the Metropolitan Fire Brigade (MFB). The CFA provides firefighting and other emergency services to rural areas and regional townships of Victoria, as well as the portions of the outer suburban areas and growth corridors of Melbourne not covered by the MFB. In the event of an emergency in Australia, emergency services including the CFA can be called by dialling Australia's primary emergency service number, 000 or the secondary emergency service number of 112 which can only be dialled on a digital mobile phone.

The CFA employs over 1,000 professional career firefighters and can draw on about 35,000 volunteer firefighters from local communities. The stations which are manned on a full-time basis are called "integrated fire stations". 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. From November 2014 until 9 June 2016 the Minister was Jane Garrett, who resigned on that date over a dispute with the Andrews Government over an employment bargaining agreement (EBA) between the CFA and the United Firefighters Union.[3] James Merlino replaced Garrett as the Minister. On 10 June 2016 Merlino moved to dismiss the entire CFA Board after it refused to sign the EBA.[4]

Lucinda Nolan was appointed the Chief Executive Officer of the CFA from November 2015, replacing Michael Wootten,[5] but resigned on 17 June 2016 after the Board was formally dismissed, and five of the nine Board members nominated.[6] The operational Chief Officer is Joe Buffone, who resigned his position on 30 June 2016.[7]


Victoria has long been served by volunteer fire brigades, the first of which were established in the 1850s. CFA was established in 1945 to support the volunteer fire brigades.[8]

The CFA was created on 2 April 1945 after 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. The CFA took over existing brigades, many of which had been established in the 19th or early 20th century.[9]

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


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).[10]

Previously, 77.5% of CFA funding came from fire levies on insurance policies and 22.5% came from the Victorian Government. In 2006/2007, insurance companies provided $180.8m and $51.1m was provided by the State Government.

The CFA also receives some funding from the provision of goods and services to external bodies. Additional funding from the government is provided during 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 large amounts of community funds and investments. This money funds competitions between local and interstate brigades and can also be used to purchase equipment.

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.[11] 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]

Logo of the Country Fire Authority

The CFA currently employs about 1,000 career firefighters in heavily urbanised or more densely populated areas, 1,100 support staff, and can draw on approximately 35,000 volunteer firefighters from local communities, as needed.

The CFA comprises 1,219 brigades: 941 rural volunteer brigades, 204 urban volunteer brigades, 34 integrated brigades (manned by career firefighters and volunteers), 23 forest industry brigades, and 17 coast guard brigades.[12] 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.[13]

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, support and transport vehicles. This fleet is supplemented by more than 1,400 brigade-owned vehicles. Brigade-owned vehicles are bought and paid for by individual brigades and by communities, sometimes with the assistance of government grants.

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.[13]

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.[14] 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.[15] Additionally all coast guard members are to receive basic CFA firefighting training and some land brigades will receive marine firefighting training.[13]


In Victoria, the Emergency Services Telecommunications Authority (ESTA) is the central emergency service dispatch and call-taking service for Police, Ambulance, and both rural and metropolitan fire services. 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, a Telstra operator will connect him or her to the relevant ESTA facility, where a call-taker will collect information from the caller, and enter this into the Computer Aided Dispatch (CAD) system. Using this information, a 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 service agencies, and all agencies use the same computer network. The result is complete and instantaneous information sharing between emergency services.[16]

Most CFA firefighters are issued an EAS (Emergency Alerting System) pager[17] 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 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 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 through the 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 dispatched 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 respond to an incident.

Fire districts[edit]

Victoria is divided into nine fire districts:[18]

  • 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.


The CFA operates six major training facilities: the South Eastern Training Ground (SETG) in Bangholme, Penshurst in Western Victoria, Longerenong (near Horsham), Huntly Training GroundBendigo, the Gippsland Fire Training Complex in West Sale,[19] and Wangaratta. 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. Career Firefighters receive their initial recruit training at the new VEMTEC academy, recently opened near Campbellfield, North of Melbourne[20]

All volunteer members are required to undertake Wildfire "minimum skills" training before turning out in a fire truck. This consists of five basic training modules including:[21]

  • Personal protection
  • Map reading
  • Wildfire behaviour
  • Wildfire suppression
  • Wildfire communication

Career firefighters also receive this training as part of their intensive 18 week Recruit Firefighters' Course, prior to commencing their career roles.

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. In late 2015, CFA firefighters were deployed to the South Australian fires, in support of CFS and SAFS crews. During February and March of 2016, hundreds of CFA volunteer and career firefighters were deployed across Bass Strait, where they relieved exhausted TFS firefighters battling the NorthWest Tasmanian fires. Many CFA firefighting and specialist vehicles were ferried over as well.


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.[22] 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[23] 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 Volunteer Fire Brigades Victoria[edit]

Volunteer Fire Brigades Victoria (VFBV) was established under the Country Fire Authority Act 1958 to represent volunteer firefighters on all matters that affect their welfare and efficiency.[24] It has about 30,000 members. The United Firefighters Union of Australia (UFU) was established in 1990 and represents career firefighters.[25] Volunteer firefighters can join UFU as associate members.

VFBV runs the annual Urban and Rural State Championships which involve brigades from around the state competing in a range of events which are based on many past and some current fire fighting practices.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ [1] (accessed 13 May 2015)
  2. ^
  3. ^ "Victorian minister Jane Garrett resigns from Cabinet as Government seeks to end CFA dispute". ABC News. 9 June 2016. Retrieved 11 June 2016. 
  4. ^ "Firefighters' crisis: Premier moves to sack CFA board". The Age. 10 June 2016. Retrieved 13 June 2016. 
  5. ^ Lucinda Nolan appointed as CFA’s new Chief Executive Officer
  6. ^ CFA crisis: Chief executive Lucinda Nolan resigns, board sacked
  7. ^ CFA Crisis: Chief fire officer Joe Buffone quits
  8. ^ - CFA Volunteerism Strategy 2015 - 2020 (accessed 1 Oct 2015)
  9. ^ History - Country Fire Authority (accessed 30 September 2015)
  10. ^ CFA Funding
  11. ^ Editor Sigley, G. (2008). Brigade Magazine, Winter Edition. Country Fire Authority.
  12. ^
  13. ^ a b c CFA Annual Report 2013. Accessed 10 April 2010
  14. ^ Conference Proceedings Website. Accessed 21 November 2008
  15. ^ CFA Annual Report 2008 - Operations Report. Accessed 21 November 2008
  16. ^ "Centralised service for triple-0 calls". 30 November 2012. Retrieved 1 December 2012. 
  17. ^ Emergency Services Telecommunications Authority - Projects Page. Accessed 22 November 2008
  18. ^ Find your fire district
  19. ^ Gippsland Information Directory CFA Page. Accessed 21 November 2008
  20. ^ Tasmanian Fire Service SETG Page. Accessed 21 November 2008
  21. ^ Hampton Park CFA Volunteering Webpage. Accessed 21 November 2008
  22. ^ CFA Annual Report Report of Operations. Accessed 21 November 2008.
  23. ^ Fire Ready Victoria. Accessed 21 November 2008
  24. ^ Volunteer Fire Brigades Victoria website Accessed Wednesday 11 March 2015
  25. ^ United Firefighters Union Eligibility of Membership Accessed Friday 21 November 2008

External links[edit]

Related links[edit]