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A message from the Board on the March meeting
The Board acknowledges the workload of brigades in support of the State Emergency Service. Once again, the emergency services have been the lifeblood of their communities and we thank you for your outstanding work.
The Chief Executive Officer updated the Board on the civil action in relation to the Kilmore East fire in February 2009. Many interviews with CFA volunteers and staff have taken place and the legal process of discovery is almost complete. The Board has sought more advice on the next steps in this matter.
The Board considered CFA's strategic priorities for 2012. CFA's strategic intent ranges from prevention and preparedness through response and recovery, to the building of a sustainable organisation. To achieve our objectives, CFA will focus on resilient communities, volunteerism, confident stakeholders, interoperability, one CFA, people first, sustainable business and command and control.
The Board received advice from its Fiskville Program Committee on the support being provided to the independent Fiskville investigation, and the extension by three months, to 30 June, for its report. The numerous interviews still to be conducted and documents to be searched were important considerations in the time extension.
The Chief Officer led a solid discussion about what it means to be the best in command and control. Isn't it really about doing the best we can in everything we do? The perception of success before and after a critical incident may vary greatly with success being the gap between expectation and actual performance. The Chief acknowledged that effective command and control is almost entirely dependent on good information management leading to good decision making. But because it's people who make decisions, the study of the human factors associated with decision making is a significant focus.
The Chief discussed the importance of not repeating the mistakes of the past. Building networks and establishing relationships based on trust must be a key objective in CFA's approach to emergency management. CFA has strength in its partnerships with other organisations, industry and the community. When times are tough, our partners stand shoulder to shoulder with us.
In our partnership with the community, however, we need to better manage expectations. We need to consider moving from a philosophy of shared responsibility with partners and the community to one of mutual obligation. This implies that, while CFA plays a vital role in emergency management, we cannot do it all and we cannot do it alone. We will help our community partners, we will train them, but they must be active in confronting and managing risk.
The Chief Officer also reported that Fire and Emergency Management is developing robust new processes to capture and analyse the lessons learned both from incidents and from training exercises. A steering group comprising volunteers and paid members as subject matter experts will play a vital role in the assessment of the information collected.
The Board was informed that the structural PPC replacement program is now complete. CFA is currently undertaking research on the feasibility of a cold climate jacket to provide protection to members at incidents where there is no risk of exposure to heat and flame. CFA is also working with VFBV on options for the roll-out of station wear and uniforms across volunteers and field staff.