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From the CEO – Otway fires and the Red Paper
We predicted this fire season would be difficult and, unfortunately, that’s exactly what it’s been.
The Otway fires have again put CFA’s extraordinary work in the spotlight and demonstrated why CFA and its members play such a vital role in our state.
We watched hundreds of members sacrifice Christmas Day with their loved ones to protect the lives of others. I want to thank you for this work.
We also saw extraordinary commitment to helping others through the actions of those members who turned up for duty when their own homes were at risk. My thoughts are with those who lost their homes.
I will be visiting the fire grounds this week to meet with the front line men and women who have demonstrated what community spirit is.
When I was in the State Control Centre on New Year’s Eve to receive a briefing about the fire situation and the risks to the state over the coming days, I saw the actions of the many support staff who are also giving their time and skills to keeping our state safe.
So often their work can be overlooked, but it is as important as what’s happening on the front line and I thank them for their efforts. Similarly, I also want to acknowledge the work performed by our emergency services partners, government departments and agencies.
It is worth reflecting on the significant preparation and planning work by local brigades and their communities that played such an important part in why no lives have been lost.
We are heading into a challenging and exciting year, and I want it to be one where CFA sets the agenda and determines our own future.
What has struck me since I have arrived is the number of reviews and inquiries that have been held into CFA over the past 10 years. There have been many recommendations for change, many of which have been implemented during this time.
My thoughts are that we need to put forward what we need as an agency. A project that is underway at CFA will help us do just that, and will be one that will be important to all of you.
In April, we will deliver the Red Paper – a strategic positioning paper outlining the environmental and external challenges CFA faces over the next 10 years, what our goals and objectives are, and what resources and capability we will need so we can continue to protect lives and property.
All of you will have an opportunity to contribute to what will be an evidence-based paper that will simply, clearly and strongly spell out what our priorities are and what we need to achieve this.
The Red Paper will help us influence our stakeholders, inform future governments about what investments - from fire trucks to stations, to new front line or support staff - need to be made, and allow us to be clear and authoritative about what we need and why.
We will also compile all our current strategies into one, simple and concise strategy, and each of you will understand how you can contribute to moving CFA into the future.
Effectively, I want to ensure that we all know where we are going and how we will get there.
I want 2016 to be a year of great achievement and progress. Together, I know we can deliver the organisation you want and are committed to.
Many of you will be aware that in late December, CFA Chair John Peberdy and I were to give evidence to the Parliamentary Inquiry into Fiskville. Unfortunately, the session ran overtime and our appearance was rescheduled to a later date. We will let you know once we have a new hearing date.
I am aware and cognisant of the angst and difficulty the closure of Fiskville has caused across CFA and the community, and the longer the inquiry continues, the harder it is for our members.
Unfortunately, at times, reporting on the issue has not been fair or equitable. But we will continue to tell our story, and we have also requested permission to put forward an additional submission that outlines our position and puts forward the facts.
I also wanted to mark the passing of Alan King, who for so many years gave his time to running The Fireman. Many of you knew Alan, and for those who didn’t have the chance to meet him, you were the beneficiaries of his work through the publication newspaper. He will be missed by many.