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Transcript 3AW interview Wednesday, 4 October
Transcript of CFA Acting Chief Officer Garry Cook interview with 3AW’s Neil Mitchell on Wednesday, 4 October.
NEIL MITCHELL: But just some answers on this CFA issue. The memo went out Grand Final day, takes effect of immediately. The memo says they believe it is important work but it has to be stopped pending new guidelines and assessment on community safety, OHS and the training directorates.
Now the man who issued the memo is the chief officer, Steve Warrington - he's now on leave. On the line is the acting Chief Officer of the CFA, Garry Cook. Good morning.
GARRY COOK: Good morning, Neil.
NEIL MITCHELL: How long has this being going on?
GARRY COOK: Look in an informal sense this has been happening right around the state for a number of years now. So ...
NEIL MITCHELL: How many years do you reckon?
GARRY COOK: Look I would say at least 10. It could be longer in some locations. So it's not actually a formal program, I'd call it an informal program where somebody might just make contact with the local fire brigade and it could be the local rotary club donates some smoke detectors for elderly citizens in the community and so on. So it's just sort of one of those programs that has grown over a period of time and we're just looking to put some assurances around that now to make sure that what we're doing - and it's a really important piece of work - but what we're doing is done I guess to a set of standards.
NEIL MITCHELL: So how long does it stop for?
GARRY COOK: We think it's probably - and I'd say paused for about six weeks. We think the team can have all of this back in play within six weeks.
NEIL MITCHELL: It's a bad time to do it though this time of the year.
GARRY COOK: Well just like anything, Neil, there's never a good time to do it but there's also the right time to do it. So in terms of, you know, we've obviously identified this as a bit of an issue that we need to tidy up so we're acting as fast as we can to get this back on track. I mean it is an important safety device for the community. There's no question about this. I must emphasise ...
NEIL MITCHELL: [Interrupts] But that's the worry, you have an important safety device which is stopped for at least six weeks for what look like bureaucratic reasons.
GARRY COOK: Yeah, can I just say that this is not about the maintenance, a battery replacement or anything like that, this is just about the installation ...
NEIL MITCHELL: Installation, yeah.
GARRY COOK: The other thing is that ...
NEIL MITCHELL: [Interrupts] And we want a smoke alarm in every house don't we?
GARRY COOK: Absolutely. We know that smoke alarms save lives and we want working smoke detectors in every home in Victoria.
NEIL MITCHELL: So why stop it?
GARRY COOK: Well, I guess- we just need to make sure that what we're doing is right in terms of ...
NEIL MITCHELL: But you've been doing it for 10 years at least. Has it caused any troubles in 10 years?
GARRY COOK: Look, in terms of has it caused any troubles? Not specific troubles that have caused ...
NEIL MITCHELL: [Interrupts] Anybody been injured?
GARRY COOK: Well we have people getting injured. There was one of the earlier calls mentioned about minor injuries [indistinct] ...
NEIL MITCHELL: [Talks over] Somebody fell off the bottom rung of the ladder. Have you heard of any serious injuries as a result of people, volunteers doing this?
GARRY COOK: I'm not sure of any specific ones like the cases that were mentioned before, I'm not even across those, Neil.
NEIL MITCHELL: So why is it a problem that something that's been working well for 10 years now has to go through these bureaucratic hoops when there've been no difficulties with it.
GARRY COOK: So what we want to do is just make sure that we're protecting both our people and the people that were installing these protectors. So just a little bit about making sure we're putting them in the right places. We also have some standards that we recommend in terms of the type of detectors that are being installed so we just want to make sure that what we're doing as an organisation is doing the right thing by the people that we're actually looking to serve.
NEIL MITCHELL: Why did this come up?
GARRY COOK: That's a good question. I think we've had some advice internally that said this is a really good program but we haven't got any checks and balances around it. We should get some checks and balances around it to make sure that this is a program- we would actually like to expand this sort of program Neil, so it's not something we're looking to wind back but we see the benefits in it but we just want to make sure that something that has grown without any controls around it, just get some standards around it so that ...
NEIL MITCHELL: Okay, were there any concerns raised about this by the union?
GARRY COOK: No. No, this has not come up through industrial means at all.
NEIL MITCHELL: Is there likely to be some training courses for people to have to do after this?
GARRY COOK: I think guide notes is probably where we'd be at with this sort of thing Neil, but I'll let the people that are working on that provide that advice to us.
NEIL MITCHELL: And you're confident this can be sorted in six weeks? Bureaucracy has a habit of moving slowly.
GARRY COOK: This is something as I said before that we're interested in keeping this moving. So we've got a couple of things we just need to tidy up and then we'll get it back on track.
NEIL MITCHELL: Is it right there's also been a change on licenses for driving the heavier tankers?
GARRY COOK: Not aware of that one, Neil. Sorry. Do you have more details or talk about that offline?
NEIL MITCHELL: No, no, I'm trying to get details. I just thought I'd sound you out and we'll get them and let you know if we can. Thank you for speaking to us.
GARRY COOK: No problem.
NEIL MITCHELL: Garry Cook, the acting chief officer at the CFA.