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Final CFA Board report for 2012
As the new year begins, our thoughts are with the family, friends and colleagues of Gisborne Second Lieutenant Peter Harry who passed away in the line of duty on Sunday 30 December while attending a house fire. Our thanks and greatest respect go to all members of the Gisborne, Sunbury and Riddell's Creek brigades who attended the fire and assisted Mr Harry at the scene alongside the ambulance crew.
At the time of the final Board meeting for 2012, Fire Danger Periods were in force across the majority of the Loddon Mallee, Grampians, Hume and parts of Barwon South West.
The Chief Officer described the four major incidents of the previous month - B-Line Track in Casterton; Warrnambool Telstra Exchange; Loy Yang and Baringhup - as a good ‘shakedown' of arrangements for the fire season. Crews have not only prepared over the long term; they are ready to get out the door now.
As an aside, the Warrnambool incident was an excellent opportunity to test one of the two new heavy mobile communications vans (MCV).
The Chief alerted the Board to new Storage and Handling of Dangerous Goods Regulations. There is no longer a requirement for the industry to perform a risk assessment for chemical storage. This could potentially lead to more incidents as less-experienced industry players underestimate the risks posed by storage and handling.
In addition, the definition of a combustible liquid had been altered. This means that many materials previously classified as combustible are now not with a reduction in control measures.
CEO Mick Bourke gave a briefing on the East Kilmore litigation and trial to take place around March 2013. It's fortunate that members will get further through the busy fire season without being called as witnesses. CFA is working towards having flexible welfare services in place, particularly in Hume, Eastern and North and Western Metropolitan Regions.
The AFAC-sponsored study with Monash Medical into any linkages between cancers in firefighters and their careers is in full swing. A subset of that work is another study of people in the high and medium risk categories from their exposure at Fiskville and some in the low risk category to attempt to determine any impact of Fiskville activities.
The CEO detailed some of the infrastructure innovations under consideration to ensure that the largest number of members benefit from limited fire station funding. Incentives may encourage funding applications for modifications that would lengthen the life of current fire stations. The station-build bias may switch to funding more 1A than 1B fire stations - more stations for less money.
The CFA and the VFBV Boards came together at the December meeting to discuss the implementation of the action plan developed following the Jones Review. We were very fortunate to also have the participation of His Honour David Jones AM who conducted the review. He was very happy with the work CFA and VFBV had put in together to prepare the plan and encouraged us to keep up the momentum.
On behalf of the CFA Board, I hope that all brigade members and their families across Victoria enjoy a peaceful, safe and happy new year. Thank you for all hard work; for leading your communities; for making a difference.