News & Media

Recruitment, research and commendations

By: Euan Ferguson

  11.00 AM 2 May, 2011

Views: 9963

Women Leaders in CFA: My previous article on women in CFA sparked a lot of reaction.  Amongst other comments, many wrote to correct my comments about women in leadership positions in CFA.  SO Jessica Walsh from Sunbury observes that of the 15 female career firefighters in CFA, there are four leading fire-fighters, one station officer, and two senior station officers (one with operations officer qualifications).  Thus, nearly half are in operational leadership roles.  SSO Michelle Snow has acted as an Operations Officer.  We have Josephine Sensi an SSO, SO Jessica Walsh and four Leading Fire Fighters in Reenie Cook, Kelli Russell, Natalie Brindle and Paula Treacy.  A number of female firefighters are currently working towards their Leading Fire Fighter assessments.

Recruiting Women Now:

Staying on the gender theme, Martin Penrose from Human Resources advises that CFA will run another Women and Firefighting Information Session this year.  The session focussing on women will be run on the 31st May at Etihad Stadium.  A general recruiting session will also be conducted on the 19th May.

CFA Commended By Vision Australia:

CFA Strategic Communications Adviser Jessica Deery tells us that Vision Australia has awarded CFA with a Highly Commended award for delivering accessible fire safety information to people who are blind or have low vision.  This includes recent changes to the CFA website. This is great work.  Our communications are for all in the community, regardless of age, gender, country of origin or spoken language.  Every effort to increase the diversity of our programs is to be commended.  Well done team!  The awards are mentioned on the Vision Australia website:

Bushfire CRC Research On Incident Management Teams:

A recent Bushfire CRC Research Note has focussed on characteristics of good bushfire firefighters and incident managers.  Amongst other things, the research found that firefighters must consider:

  • multiple scenarios (such as worst case and most likely);
  • multiple timeframes (such as next few hours and next few days);
  • multiple perspectives (such as detailed micro view and a ‘big picture' macro view.

Good incident managers should consider:

"What if...?" thinking: Questioning the situation and imagining how things could go wrong.

Back up plans: Developing back-up plans to deal with a range of eventualities, with trigger points indicating when to change plans.

Self Management: Good firefighters reflected on their own thought processes and took action to manage cognitive (mental) overload or stress.

Critiquing plans: Good incident managers encouraged respectful discussion and dissent to highlight faulty assumptions and check decision processes.

Adaptive decision making: Experts audited the effectiveness of management structures and adapted standard procedures if required.

Focus on Fundamentals: Experts focused on fundamental rules of safety to ensure internal concerns or external pressures did not undermine planning.

Motivation to learn: Experts recognised the importance of balanced debriefing and reflected on how their own decision-making performance could improve.

The research findings described in this Bushfire CRC Fire Note highlight the importance - and challenge - of adequately preparing for worst case scenarios.  Recommendations refer to the development of a training regime and decision tool to improve worst case thinking, as well as describing the agency practices important for facilitating worst case thinking (such as learning culture).  For more information, go to:

Quote of the week:

"Everything about him was old except his eyes, and they were... cheerful and undefeated."

Ernest Hemingway, 'The Old Man and The Sea'.

Last Updated: 10 December 2015