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Think flood before fire: D22 Captains' forum
The sun was out when thirty-five CFA captains and Group Officers gathered for District 22’s first ever Captain’s Forum last Sunday (31 July), but the message was to think flood before fire.
“As the Chief Officer said last week we are 100 days out from a fire season, but here in the Northeast we may have a different kind of season first,” said Operations Manager Stuart Broad.
He said with paddocks across the district already heavily waterlogged, flooding was a real possibility if long-term forecasts eventuated.
“Whether it is fire or flood, you play a big role,” he said. “Some of you have an SES unit in your community, but for most of you, in your community you’re it."
Stuart encouraged Captains to start thinking about forming emergency management teams in their communities, together with SES, police and other agencies.
The inaugural forum provided a chance for members in the demanding captain role to network, put faces to names, and to gain a better awareness of the key go-to people at district HQ.
In addition to operational updates, district staff covered off on a variety of topics from fire investigation through to VESEP grants.
As well as focusing on the district itself, this was a chance for captains to take in a different perspective, hearing from the captain of one of CFA’s busiest urban brigades.
Guest presenter Diana Ferguson, Captain of Bayswater Brigade, talked about some of the practices Bayswater has put in place to ensure future leadership succession was successful.
“A lot of our members that come in are focused on the leadership journey,” she said.
“We do personal development plans for our members so that we know who wants to do what.”
Hear more from Diana in this quick video:
Diana, who also spoke to Brigade Magazine last year about running a brigade like a small business, said while smaller brigades would run very different to a brigade like Bayswater, some of the principles stayed the same.
“Part of our job as captain in to maintain morale, and that challenge will take different forms depending on whether you’re a quiet or a busy brigade,” she said.
“When you do get an enthusiastic individual that comes in, you need to think about how you can harness and sustain that.”
OM Stuart Broad urged captains to become familiar with the capabilities not just in their brigades but in their communities.
“Our people are more trained today than they have ever been. But do we know what our communities are capable of?
Many are capable of a lot – and you are a big part of that. We need to know what they need from us.”
Supported by the Brigade Support Program, the inaugural District 22 Captain’s Forum was held at Kialla (near Shepparton). It follows similar district-run forums for other BMT roles including the Community Safety, Health, Safety and Environment and Training functions.