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Fire season reflection and training
This fire season has certainly been a reality check as to what a typically long, hot and arduous summer in the north-east brings, following what could be deemed to be two very mild summers.
Our high state of preparedness has proven to be the key to successful fire management to date, with an initial heavy weight of attack. And the rapid establishment of the fireground command structure, with timely transition to the local command facility (Div Comm) when necessary, has been terrific.
Most of our fires with serious potential were held to between 50 and 200 hectares despite the severe weather conditions. Rock solid support and leadership from the districts, region and Level 3 incident management teams to our members on the fireground, and timely and appropriate advice to communities at risk will continue to be our focus. Thank you for your excellent work.
I would like to continue with the training theme that I discussed in my previous column. Hume region plans to improve its systems and processes, with the goal to produce a brigade training needs analysis that will be aggregated to catchment, district and region level. This work is now well advanced, and is being facilitated by our catchment officers with direct input from the Brigade Management Team.
When this work is completed, there will be a three-stage analysis of each brigade member's availability based on daytime, evening and weekends. The analysis will also identify individual's competencies overlayed on the brigade's risk profile. This will identify the training gap or perhaps a personnel gap (in which case targeted recruitment becomes the issue).
This data, which has been collected over the past two years via the brigade operational skills plan, will be presented in a way that can be easily interpreted by each brigade to identify the training needs. We will then be getting close to an evidence-based training plan (skills acquisition) for each brigade.
Along with this analysis will come the inevitable questions. What is the minimum and maximum number of firefighters in a brigade based on risk? Where are we at with skills maintenance? What is the pathway to achieve competencies in a timely manner?
I would like to emphasise that we will continue to provide a strong emphasis on growing and maintaining our volunteer instructor and assessor capacity and take training as close as possible to our members.
I anticipate that this data will be available for distribution to each captain during April.
From an incident management perspective, our catchment teams have been working with groups and districts to identify members who can take on incident management roles. In some instances, the pathway is clearly identified and in other instances that pathway is yet to be established pending CFA/DSE/MFB/SES endorsement of the process. Catchment teams are the contact point for skills acquisition processes for any incident management competencies.