News & Media

The season so far - hard work and technical glitches

By: Mick Bourke

  11.00 AM 7 January, 2010

Views: 10790

The fire season is well and truly upon us. There have been almost 4000 fires since the start of the season. We've had severe and extreme days, Total Fire Bans, Emergency Warnings and, of course, fires.

CFA crews have responded to incidents across our state and over the border. We've gone in early, hit fires hard and made sure any threat has been contained. And the coming week will no doubt challenge us again.

In my last post I talked about Wednesday 16 December, which saw more than 110 incidents, including 27 grass fires in extreme conditions. I also mentioned the technical problems we faced in getting warnings on to the CFA website. It's clear that our web-based One Source, One Message (OSOM) system came up short on that day. While the problem was promptly fixed, I'd like to let you know what went wrong.

It's important to clarify that the CFA website itself was unaffected; the problem was with the messages being fed to the website. The computer server that enables the messages to go to the website failed.

Our IT people were straight onto the problem when it happened and the website was again receiving warnings on that Wednesday afternoon. Since then, we've left no stone unturned to ensure this doesn't happen again.

We also immediately commissioned a full and independent audit of the OSOM system by auditors Deloitte to make sure all actual and potential pitfalls are identified.

And what if OSOM fails again? One of the strengths of our emergency warning system is that not all our eggs are in one basket. If OSOM goes down, there are a number of other systems in place to warn the community including Emergency Alert, Emergency Service Broadcasters and more traditional forms like email, fax, phone and uploading warnings manually to the CFA website.

We also recently had another public issue when we didn't update the voice messages on the Victorian Bushfire Information Line for those calling it after hours. It was simple to fix but we need to get these things right at all times.

I think I speak for most of CFA when I say how bitterly disappointed I was with these glitches and I don't want those failures to detract from the outstanding work you've already done this fire season.

I will return to updating you on the changes to boundaries and improved command and control arrangements in future posts.

Last Updated: 10 December 2015