News & Media

2009 Bushfires Royal Commission final report

By: Mick Bourke

  11.00 AM 31 July, 2010

Views: 6764

We will never forget the tragic loss of life and wide-scale destruction of property in the 2009 bushfires - CFA has learned hard lessons and made many improvements since then and we are determined to keep changing and improving.

The fires of 2009 had a huge impact on everyone involved and many of those people will be feeling that impact today; our thoughts are with them.

One of the many changes made since February 2009 is a new command and control structure to strengthen our response to future emergencies and ensure there is one person clearly in charge of the State Control Centre. The Chief Officer's responsibility to issue warnings has been clarified in legislative changes.

New procedures ensure the most experienced and qualified persons from CFA and DSE are in charge of fires and they are supported by improved systems, resources and intelligence gathering to deliver accurate and fast warnings to the community.

CFA, along with the Victorian Government and other agencies, will be carefully considering the final recommendations of the 2009 Victorian Bushfires Royal Commission.

The Government will hold a consultation process over the next few weeks before making an official response to the recommendations on behalf of the State.

CFA will be active in that consultation process, working with the Government and putting forward views on behalf of our 60,000 members.

CFA volunteers and career firefighters gave all they could and more in unprecedented conditions during the 2009 firefight. We again acknowledge and thank our people for their extraordinary efforts.

Our fire services struggled to cope with the scale, force and speed of the 640 fires that raged across the State on February 7 last year. It was the worst day in our history; a unique and devastating event.

The challenge in front of us now is to be vigilant and keep delivering on the lessons learned from that day.

Last fire season we were more prepared than ever before and we'll be even more prepared for the season ahead.

We recognise that we've got more work to do in rebuilding the trust and confidence of the Victorian community - and that's a challenge we embrace.

It's also important that changes are made with the support of our members who are trained, skilled and dedicated emergency services personnel. These are the people who work tirelessly to protect their communities, year in, year out.

There's been a huge amount of work done since February 2009, the pace of change has been rapid, and that work will continue. (Improvements are detailed below.)

CFA is in the process of appointing a new Chief Officer who will help lead preparations for the next fire season and the implementation of changes arising from the Royal Commission.

Video of Mick speaking to the media today following the release of the report


Key improvements made since February 2009

  • The Stay or Go policy revised to place a far greater emphasis on protection of life by leaving early.
  • An unprecedented amount of information to help the community prepare for last fire season including FireReady kits to every Victorian in high risk bushfire areas.
  • A record number of Victorians attending bushfire preparedness meetings.
  • An online assessment tool to help residents assess the defendability of their homes and inform their bushfire survival plans.
  • Improved warning system and more warnings in place than ever before including a new national telephone emergency warning system.
  • New daily fire danger ratings and four-day forecasts to help warn communities in advance.
  • Extensive public awareness campaign on risks and fire preparation.
  • Legislative amendments to make clear that the CFA Chief Officer is responsible for issuing warnings and community information about bushfire risks.
  • Victoria adopted a new national three-tier bushfire advice and alerts system.
  • Simultaneous warnings on CFA and DSE websites.
  • Warnings now being broadcast on ABC local radio, commercial radio stations and Sky News TV.
  • New protocol for broadcast of the Standard Emergency Warning Signal.
  • Greater surge capacity for ESTA.
  • Neighbourhood Safer Places (NPS) in high fire risk areas as places of last resort when all other plans have failed. There are now more than 100 NSPs in Victoria.
  • Township Protection Plans developed for 52 high risk areas.
  • Major changes to the way CFA operates as an organisation including pre-positioning of Incident Management Teams within areas on days of extreme fire risk.
  • New DSE and CFA procedures to ensure the most experienced and qualified person is appointed as an Incident Controller for each fire, regardless of where the fire has started.
  • A $28.9 million upgrade for all designated Level 3 Incident Control Centres across the State - they now meet new higher minimum standards and have increased specialist capabilities.
  • Increased resources and capability on intelligence gathering during fires to help Incident Management Teams deliver accurate and fast warnings to community.
  • A complete review of the command and control structure to simplify and strengthen the response to any emergency which the State may face in the future. The new command and control arrangements ensure there is one person clearly in charge of the State Control Centre.
  • New CFA boundaries align with other emergency services organisations including VicPol.

CFA members - if you'd like to discuss the commission report online with your fellow members, login to CFA Connect and join the discussion here:

Last Updated: 10 December 2015