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Equipment, OHS, local feedback
Recently I attended a VFBV Open Forum along with CEO Mick Bourke and Acting DC/O's Alan Ellis and Peter Baker and members of the VFBV State Council. CEO Mick gave a briefing on changes to the CFA Strategy and Structure and took a number of questions. We appreciated the fact that the Open Forum was attended by many volunteers from throughout the State. In an effort to "report back" and to keep as many people informed, here are key areas of questions and discussion:
Effect Of National Harmonised OHS Legislation On volunteer Compensation:
We were asked, and I promised, to send some wording on the effect of the national legislation on volunteer compensation: "I am advised that there is no effect of the national OHS legislation on volunteer compensation. This is due to the fact that CFA volunteer compensation is determined by state law, whereas the new OHS legislation is federal law".
A question was asked about the status of "wildfire" respirators. Manager P/E Section, Mark Tarbutt advises that there are a variety of products on the market. Many respirators have operational constraints that are still being evaluated. CFA continue to work with AFAC and the Bushfire Cooperative Research Centre to evaluate products as they come onto the market. At present though, CFA only endorses the use of the P2 disposable dust mask for bushfire operations.
Women "On The Back Of The Truck":
I was very concerned about a report that a female member belonged to a brigade that had a policy that women were "not allowed on the back of the truck". This matter has been investigated. Inquiries have revealed that there is no such policy at the brigade in question. It must be strongly reinforced that CFA is an equal opportunity organisation. A suggestion that anyone who is appropriately trained and equipped should not be "allowed on the back of the truck" is out of step with CFA's equal opportunity policies. Any such policy that discriminates on any basis will not be tolerated.
CFA Waterproof Jackets:
An account was given that a Group of Brigades was having difficulty obtaining approval from the District for fundraising for the purchase of reflect wet weather gear jackets. This has been followed up through the Regional Manager. CFA is supportive of wet weather jackets being purchased to keep members dry in non-fire environments where funds are available. CFA encourages the use of community fundraising for such items that may not be able to be funded by CFA.
CFA Listening Sets:
A question was asked if CFA intends to provide a listening set when CFA moves to digital radio spectrum. CFA recognises the importance of listening sets in the community, especially with farmer firefighters. The matter will be referred to the Joint Communications Advisory Committee and the Director Asset Management for follow up.
Section 29 Inspections:
A delegate reinforced the importance of Section 29 inspections. This is agreed. The importance of diligence in conducting annual brigade Section 29 inspections will be reinforced to Operations Officers and Managers. This process is crucial to checking current and future brigade viability.
Fire Pro Gloves:
A member raised a matter that a batch of structural gloves were being issued that did not meet the CFA standard. It was said that yellow dye leached from the gloves onto the hands. This matter has been discussed with the Regional Manager who has advised that further issuing of non-compliant gloves should cease and the gloves should be returned to the manufacturer for replacement.
Quote of the week:
"Strength is granted to us all when we are needed to serve great causes."
- Sir Winston Churchill