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Occupational Health and Safety Act, Kilmore East, fire season facts
The April Board meeting began with a presentation on health, safety and environment leadership and compliance. The Occupational Health and Safety Act 2004 sets out the law and due diligence with CFA officers and leaders required to take reasonable steps to acquire knowledge of health and safety matters; understand operations and generally associated hazards and risks; ensure resources and processes to eliminate or minimise risks; ensure processes for timely information and response to incidents, hazards and risks; ensure processes implemented to comply with specific duties and obligations under the Act such as consultation and incident notification; and verify the provision and use of resources and processes.
Perhaps the most vital aspects of the Act in relation to the CFA Board are to ensure that CFA most effectively uses what it has; effectively leads and influences; and ensures a focus on the interaction of CFA with other emergency services, related organisations and the community so that skills and resources are effectively coordinated.
With these priorities in mind, the Board committee structure has been reshaped into four committees with each now in the early days of establishing its priorities, a work plan and a charter. They are the Health, Safety and Environment; Finance, Risk and Audit; People, Remuneration and Culture; and Service Delivery committees.
CEO Mick Bourke updated the Board on the Kilmore East class action. With class applications now closed, there is more potential for the parties to establish the limits of their liabilities and consider potential options to resolve the matter without running the trial through this year and perhaps even into 2014.
The Board was advised of the Bushfires Preparedness Program Evaluation Project that will provide an understanding of a solid cross section of the 59 projects, their benefits and effects within CFA and the wider community. This will include gathering data about what people did on high risk days and what actions they took in response to CFA program information.
The CEO also informed the Board of the proposed content to be mailed out to every brigade mid-year on a USB. Inclusions are likely to be a community engagement video, media training and the ‘We are CFA' PowerPoint presentation and video. This material is designed to support brigades as they reach out to their community either directly or through the media, and convey that all households must partner with us in confronting fire risk.
Chief Officer Euan Ferguson presented the Board with a very impressive list of facts and figures about the fire season: 4139 bush and grass fires from December to February with 23 of these proving very significant in terms of duration and threat; with fire investigators attending 325 fire scenes. More than 18,000 calls were made to the Victorian Bushfire Information Line in January alone while 110 emergency warnings were issued across the season.
Some firefighting aircraft remain in Victoria to support planned burning operations into the beginning of May.
Under threat from fast and intense fires, a number of crews were forced to enact full crew protection. All crews followed correct procedures as learned in training and the Chief, with pride, commended this quick thinking under difficult conditions.
The Board approved the formation of the specialist Oscar 1 Emergency Response Brigade. The primary purpose of the brigade is to provide first response to incidents in disused mines and quarries, a service they provided with distinction just days earlier when a man fell 35 metres down a disused mine shaft.
Congratulations! As with all our brigades this fire season, your training and teamwork have served you and your communities exceptionally well and done CFA proud.