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My first few weeks
One of my highlights during my first few weeks has been my visits to local brigades, where I have had the pleasure of meeting many of our front line men and women.
It’s been fantastic to see the work you do on the ground, and I am learning more about the challenges and risks you face.
So far I’ve visited Rowville, The Basin, Lancefield, Geelong City, Ocean Grove, Belmont, Lara, Main Ridge, Districts 13 and 7 Headquarters and CFA’s Protective Equipment Section, and I’ll be heading to as many brigades and districts as possible during the coming weeks and months.
I have been impressed by the way CFA leads the sector in so many areas. It’s exciting to see the direction and progress already in train, particularly in key areas such as service delivery, health and safety, IT, people development, business system and processes, external partnerships and building community capability.
Focus on the front line
Our focus is clearly on front line service delivery – and to reinforce that, last week we had our first new look Executive Leadership Team meeting – which not only includes the CO and the EDs of the directorates, but also the four DCOS, the Executive Manager of Community and Capability and an ACO, on a three month rotational basis. This will ensure that the input from Fire and Emergency Management is comprehensive, timely and influential.
Other issues and items we will progress during the next 12 months include:
- A focus on getting training right – from needs, priorities, type, format, scheduling and delivery. This is our top priority for the year;
- A more comprehensive reward and recognition program for all our membership;
- A formalised stakeholder engagement process so we fully understand the attitudes and perceptions of our key stakeholder groups, and how this impacts on our ability to deliver a great service;
- Implementation of an intelligence unit that will provide real time intelligence for decision making;
- Better and more reflective performance measures so we all understand what is working and what isn’t;
- More integrated approach to environmental scanning and planning; and
- Exploring business process re-engineering at the frontline – selecting our most problematic or bureaucratic processes and seeking to streamline them
We have a number of ongoing or emerging issues that I am getting across – the fire season, EBA negotiations, Fiskville and other training grounds, the Fire Services Review, presumptive legislation; and first responder issues at a counter terrorism incident.
I know many of you have been following the parliamentary inquiry into Fiskville. While media attention on the latest hearings has been limited, one of Australia’s top toxicologists, Dr Roger Drew, presented evidence last week.
During his appearance, he provided the inquiry with in-depth information on PFOS and what impact it has had at the Fiskville site.
He reaffirmed the expert toxicological advice he has provided has been peer reviewed, and that the danger to the health of firefighters and neighbours at Fiskville from exposure to PFOS in the water was negligible.
He also outlined that blood tests of people affected showed levels of PFOS within the safe range where no health effects have been observed.
A full transcript of Dr Drew’s evidence, as well as others including Emergency Management Commissioner Craig Lapsley, Acting Chief Health Officer Professor Michael Ackland, and Worksafe Victoria CEO Clare Amies, is expected to be posted on the Inquiry’s webpage.
I’d like to encourage everyone to take part in the Wellbeing Survey, which will help us find out what you think of the mental health and wellbeing support services available, and how they can be improved.