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The reason we are here
Last Saturday a house fire occurred in Hopper's Crossing. An elderly lady who lived alone, but was cared for and was much loved by her neighbours, was overcome with smoke. As a result the lady lost consciousness in the rear of the house on fire. CFA crews from Point Cook, Hopper's Crossing and Werribee responded. Senior Station Officer Greg Hill, with LFF Stewart Stephens and F/F Doug Tonks were first on scene and, in very testing circumstances, were able to extricate the lady and pass her on to paramedics. We understand that she is recovering well. As Greg Hill said to me in a subsequent communication: "It really goes to show, when we have the opportunity to help someone in need, why this is one of the greatest jobs".
So, at this time of year, it is useful to reflect that our mission - to protect lives and property - is critically important in the community. Daily, CFA volunteers and career staff are making a difference through community engagement, providing information, preparing for and responding to incidents. Each incident involves real people, each with a family and loved ones. Each has become an unexpected victim who then turns to CFA and other emergency services for help. You do important work. It does make a difference. It is appreciated. Thank you for what you do.
Our fire agencies and emergency services are very good at responding to fires, natural disasters and emergency incidents. We seem to be able to get initial resources on scene very quickly and to competently take actions to combat the fire or incident. It is important that we also reinforce the importance of "Information Operations". That is, the passage up (and down) the line of control of key pieces of information. Often I sit (with other senior officers) in the State Control Centre and wonder how things are really going at an incident. One of the purposes of the State Control Centre and the State Controller is to assist Incident Controllers by prioritising and allocating resources - including scarce and specialist resources. This becomes hard to do if there is a lack of basic information coming back from the fire. For members operating at Regional, District and Incident Level, it is important to highlight how important regular situation reports are. Systems such as CFA's IMS and DSE's FireWeb can both provide much needed information quickly and easily.
Sometimes we see short, concise statements that clearly paint the picture about what is happening and what the strategy for control is. However often we do not. I urge you to put in a regular (every 30 to 60 minutes in the early stages) reports about what is happening. If we aren't getting the information, and we feel we need the information, you can expect a telephone call. Information is the lifeblood of operations. We need good information to issue timely warnings and to make the best decisions about allocation of resources.
May The Peace Of Christmas Be With You:
The last few weeks have been very hectic in CFA. Many have been involved (and still are) with community education and bushfire safety programs. We have seen a new web site launched. There have been a number of bushfire readiness exercises and briefings and even a few significant fires to test our systems. In recent days I've had many cards wishing us well for the fire season ahead and for 2013. It is clear that there is a huge amount of support for, and respect held for CFA in the community and amongst our stakeholders. There will be many staff and volunteers who will not stop work over Christmas. Many of our members -our career staff, our volunteers and many of our support staff will continue to be ready for the fire danger and to respond to calls for assistance, in many cases sacrificing time with family and friends. To you, we say a very special "Thank you!"
And to all of you, whoever you may be and wherever you are in the "family" that is CFA, and on behalf of CEO Mick Bourke and the Executive Team, we wish you all a very Merry Christmas and a Happy and Prosperous New Year.