News & Media

Local Command and Control - revisiting the Group's role

By: Euan Ferguson

  11.00 AM 4 March, 2011

Views: 8819

As I travel the state, one of the most common issues raised is the diminished role of the Group and of Group officers in operations. At last Monday's Board meeting the Board supported my suggestion of a short review of the role of the Group. The review will focus on strengthening the Group role in operations response and preparedness.

Whether we call it "local command and control" or "the Group" it is clear that there is a critical role in planning readiness of brigades in a local area. Group personnel bring a wealth of local knowledge - a matter that the Victorian Bushfires Royal Commission highlighted as something that needed to be encouraged.

"Local command and control" is essential to manage the initial response and the escalation of resources and to manage information operations as an incident grows from initial attack. Since the 2009 Black Saturday bushfires there has been a very significant effort to develop standards for and to upgrade Level 3 Incident Control Centres and Divisional Command Points. Whilst the role of the ICC is clear, the role and function of the "Div Comm" in initial attack and incident escalation is less clear. It could be argued that, by sidelining the role of the Group in the CFA chain of command, we have also sidelined key people who are strong leaders and have a unique grasp on the local situation and local brigades.

Finally, with the philosophy of "Mission Command" receiving very strong support, CFA will be further developing the "Mission Command" philosophy. The essence of "Mission Command" is about giving more emphasis to decision-making and pushing operational decision-making down in the organisation to the lowest appropriate level. It would seem consistent then, to re-define and strengthen the role of "local command and control" and the role of the Group.

How Do We Want CFA To Be Described In The Future?

We create our own future.  I am a strong believer that, by thinking and talking about our future aspirations, we better clarify our directions and "who we want to be".  The question I pose, to all in CFA and the CFA family, is "How do we want CFA to be described in the future?" I invite you to consider just three words that might sum up, in a positive sense, how you'd like someone to describe CFA in the future.  Imagine you are an observer, from outside CFA, looking in.  What three words would you like to associate with CFA?  Recently I heard three words from Alan Layton, Firefighter and DGO with Thornton RFB and the Alexandra Group.  Alan's three words (and he has given me some background notes) are:  RESPONSIVE:  (Legislated responsibilities - always turn up when needed!; willing to step in and help; take on other roles).  RESOURCEFUL:  (Gets the job done - no matter what!)  RELIABLE:  (There when needed; seen to do the best possible; disciplined, yet flexible!).  I ask you to think about, discuss and then send in your three words - The future of CFA is in our hands! Send your three words to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Communicating with the deaf and blind:

Christine Elliott, with CFA's Programs for Diverse Populations, has passed on comments from Heather Lawson who is a deaf/blind member of the Victorian community.   Different people in our community want and need different methods of communication.  A lot of work has been put into making the CFA website accessible, Heather is able to "read" the CFA website through a Braille keyboard, and documents can be printed in hard copy using a Braille embosser.  Here is a link of Heather showing how people who are deafblind communicate through tactile sign language: Deaf/blindness (sight and hearing loss, or dual sensory impairment) currently affects almost 300,000 Australians.

Keep Up The Good Work!

As I travel the state I meet with many volunteers, career staff and CFA supporters.  There are many matters that are drawn to my attention.  However I continue to be humbled by the energy, professionalism and commitment of CFA members.  You do good work - great work.  Thank you for what you do for CFA and for the community.  Keep positive and keep up the great effort!

Quote of the week:

"I slept and dreamt that life was joy. I awoke and saw that life was service. I acted and behold, service was joy."

- Rabindranath Tagore

Last Updated: 10 December 2015