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Take care through the summer season
Every December, CFA members have their eyes firmly trained on the summer ahead wondering what the conditions will bring. There's not much mystery for members from Loddon Mallee Region where there is a declared fire danger period for six months of the year. In fact, there's not much mystery for any of our members: emergency response is all about being ready for the unpredictable and trained up for random events and volatile conditions.
In the protection of lives and property, always keep safety and wellbeing in mind - your own and that of others. The first lives you protect are your own and those of your crew. The CFA mission means every firefighter returning home safely after every incident.
On behalf of the CFA Board, I thank you all for your dedication to your brigades and communities through 2013. You've all made a difference again this year in keeping your families, friends and neighbours safer.
No doubt it's been a juggling act again for so many of our volunteers, whether employed or self-employed. There are many generous and cooperative businesses around Victoria willing to let our members turn out during work hours and we thank each and every one.
To all our self-employed members who down tools or put the mouse aside to attend incidents, thank you for dedication. We acknowledge that you make sacrifices and sometimes have to step back from CFA: thank you for whatever you can give. We hope it is balanced out by the camaraderie of your brigade and the satisfaction of a job well done: locals working towards a common purpose and enjoying each other's company along the way.
Our members are a cross-section of the Victorian community and that means that some of you are shift workers. All members must learn to identify fatigue but this is especially critical for our shift workers (and members with a new baby). Some of the highest-risk times for fatigue are at the end of a long shift or during the first night shift after a break.
This current issue of Brigade magazine includes information about the dangers of fatigue. I urge all members to read the material and think carefully about what you could do differently to ensure you don't build up a sleep debt.
Finally, I would like to thank everyone who stands up in a leadership position in CFA. Leadership can be both richly rewarding and arduous. A CFA leader is a community leader. CFA is held in enormous respect around Victoria because of the professionalism of our career and volunteer members and the personal reach you have into communities large and small.
Stay safe through this summer season and enjoy time with your family and friends.