News & Media

Tostaree report

By: Euan Ferguson

  11.00 AM 15 August, 2011

Views: 4685

Today the Fire Services Commissioner, Craig Lapsley, released the report of the Review into the Tostaree Fire in February 2011.

Lessons must be learned, and improvements made, following every fire. With that view in mind, I welcome the release today of the Office of the Emergency Services Commissioner (OESC) Review of the Tostaree Fire. The review into that February 2011 incident - the largest of the season - will be of interest to many CFA members and features a number of key ‘findings' and ‘recommendations'.

Importantly, it also contains recognition of the good work done by emergency service people in dealing with this difficult, fast-moving fire. The report says:

‘The personnel involved at all levels of the incident control structure performed well under the conditions they faced and with the resources they had. They worked within the new arrangements and utilised the new information and warning systems.'

The fact that there was no loss of human life and limited asset loss was also a major positive that should not be overlooked. While this review was never designed to be a finger-pointing exercise, it does contain a number of observations on where and how things need to be done better. Significantly, many CFA people willingly took part in this review and their comments helped shape the final result and will drive further improvements.

Coinciding with the release of the report today was the release of the Fire Services Commissioner's (FSC) action plan which directly addresses the 29 key ‘findings' and ‘recommendations' and the work required as a result of the review. This FSC plan says the majority of the recommendations will be implemented before the next fire season and will give members comfort that work has been underway since the February fires to keep improving in key areas and that there is now a detailed timeline and set accountability to do just that.

While I encourage CFA members to read the Tostaree review, I want to highlight some key areas identified for improvement:

  • Interoperability between agencies - Including improving command and control procedures, information flow and resources.
  • OSOM, Emergency Alert, Standard Emergency Warning Signal (SEWS) - Including integrating them better and further improving timely, relevant and tailored messaging.
  • Community Preparedness - Including developing a way to measure how prepared communities are.
  • Vegetation Management - Including improving legislation and developing risk-based standards for fire-breaks and asset protection.

A power of work has already been done by the emergency service organisations to improve in the above areas but, when tested under pressure during a fast-moving fire in February, OESC found that there is still more work to be done. Some areas identified for improvements were being tested under real-life fire conditions for the first time since being developed so we have learned greatly from that.

As we digest this review and move towards another fire season, I would like to thankyou for your dedication to CFA and encourage you to remain positive and focused on the job ahead of protecting lives and property.

Last Updated: 10 December 2015