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Jones & VAGO News
CFA continues to work on the implementation of recommendations from the Jones and Victorian Auditor General's Office reports. Today, I'd like to share with you some examples of the progress we've made in recent times. We will keep you informed of the status of the Jones/VAGO projects through OT&V News and other forms of communication.
In response to the 2014 VAGO report into "Managing Emergency Services Volunteers", CFA and SES have begun work on a joint volunteer strategy which will incorporate the key themes of the Jones Inquiry and VAGO. CFA is working closely with VFBV towards achieving this objective. The strategy will set a framework for volunteerism in CFA. The strategy will respond to VAGO's recommendation in regard to workforce planning, recruitment, training and deployment, support and retention. The opportunity here is to produce a high level plan to develop a long-term vision and specific goals and principles. CFA is committed to producing the volunteer strategy with VFBV by July of this year.
To achieve alignment between CFA's vision, mission and values and to promote support for volunteerism, a leadership framework has been developed which identifies leadership attributes. This work will continue to give us a roadmap including leadership development into every aspect of CFA to meet future challenges.
Volunteer exit survey
From 1st July 2014, when volunteers resign, they will be invited to fill in a survey to share their motivation for leaving. This will now be done as part of a systematic survey strategy recommended by the Jones Inquiry.
In 2013, CFA looked into how other Australasian Fire and Emergency Council agencies, including the NSW Rural Fire Service and the Fire & Emergency Services Authority of WA, approached exit surveys. A working party, representing CFA and VFBV, put together a questionnaire and followed up with a pilot survey.
The pilot survey indicated that major reasons for joining include helping and giving back to the community; making the most of the opportunity of being trained and learning new skills; enjoying good team spirit and camaraderie as well as participating in competitions. Major reasons for leaving include moving house and taking on a new job.
When asked how CFA could further improve the volunteer experience, many of those who responded gave examples such as the need for greater flexibility between time demand and life balance and making skill maintenance easier. At CFA, we're already working on these suggestions.
From July, the exit survey will become part of normal CFA business process.
Observation Sharing Centre
The Observation Sharing Centre has been developed by CFA in conjunction with VFBV to complement our debriefing and learning process. The multi-agency online system can be accessed by all agencies, staff and volunteers and enables the sharing of observations, initiatives and lessons. Access to the Observation Sharing Centre is through the FIRS Call Centre (1800 628 844) Brigades Online/CFA Intranet or through the link: http://www.surveygizmo.com/s3/1449131/OBSERVATION-SHARING-CENTRE
OT&V Regional Training Campuses upgraded
In other news, CFA has conducted a major upgrade of five Regional Training Campuses located in Wangaratta, West Sale, Huntly, Longerenong and Penshurst. The works vary from location to location but include upgrades to training rooms, first aid rooms, drying rooms, administrative rooms, kitchen facilities and breathing apparatus refilling and maintenance rooms. Our training campuses in Fiskville and Bangholme have also been recently improved. Volunteers and staff can now enjoy excellent training facilities at these sites. In addition, earth works have commenced at the Sunraysia Regional Training Campus.
The feedback we've received from a pilot project involving three mobile props has been positive. A tender was issued for an additional 10 props simulating small industrial, domestic and car fires. We're currently in the process of evaluating the tenders. As a result, in the future, we'll have the capability of moving more props around Victoria so that members can have access to safe, realistic hot fire training closer to their brigade location.
Minimum Skills Training Program reviewed
In May 2013, a review of the Minimum Skills Program was completed. OT&V has since developed replacement programs known as the Recruit Program and the Bushfire Skills Program. The Recruit Program is for new volunteers to acquire a basic set of skills required to respond to local incidents, under supervision. The Bushfire Skills Program is a mandatory training program which will enable volunteers to respond to a bushfire incident. More on the launch of these programs in future weeks!
Under a revised Brigade Operational Skill Profile, a prototype which provides greater information about brigade skills is being tested. BOSP displays the required skill profile of a brigade to address community risks within their operational areas and a current skill profile of the brigade. The new prototype aims at identifying the gaps in a brigade skills profile so training priorities can be met. More on the revised BOSP in future issues.
Who can train and assess?
There has been some ongoing confusion around who can train and assess skills in CFA. So to address all queries and concerns, OT&V has updated our "Who can train and assess" poster and developed a supporting DVD featuring the Chief Officer. These items will be launched in your districts in the coming months in consultation with your District Operations Managers.