The Safety Share is a standing item at Board meetings. This month, the Chair of the Board, Mr Greg Smith AM, welcomed Operations Manager Paul King to provide the Safety Share. OM King gave a presentation to the Board based on the work of Firefighter Nathan Bell of Shepparton Fire Brigade on the dangers of smoke to firefighters and ways to mitigate that risk.
Fire Services Reform
The Board received an update on Fire Services Reform, noting that the Government had provided a response to the Select Committee report, and the potential for amendments to the original Bill.
The Board had a significant discussion about refreshing CFA’s approach to engaging young people aged 16 and 17 years with CFA. The Board has asked management to develop options for a 16 and 17-year-old program that is stimulating and challenging, gives interested young people the necessary training to be effective CFA volunteers and, above all, ensures their safety and wellbeing. The Board emphasised the need for extensive consultation on the options with key stakeholders, including with brigades that have 16 and 17-year-old members and, most particularly, with young people themselves. Whilst this is occurring, the current Standard Operating Procedure (SOP 6.02) relating to 16 and 17-year-olds will be reinforced across CFA.
Annual Financial Statements
The Chair of the Board’s Finance, Risk and Audit Committee (FRAC), Ms Michelle McLean, presented CFA’s Annual Financial Statements to the Board for approval. The Board was joined by Mr Travis Derricott from the Victorian Auditor General’s Office (VAGO), who reported that VAGO expected to conclude that the financial report presented fairly and that VAGO would provide an unmodified audit opinion. After considering the advice from FRAC and VAGO, the Board agreed to approve the Annual Financial Statements. In doing so, the Board particularly noted the improvement in CFA’s financial position from a $30 million deficit last year to an $8 million surplus this year.
The Chair noted the strengthening of CFA’s financial position was due in part to significant improvements to governance and accountability within CFA.
The Board considered a draft of the 2016/17 Annual Report, and agreed that it provided a good account of the year just past.
Accountability to the community
The Board discussed the importance of transparency and accountability to the community, and agreed that to meet community expectations CFA should improve its approach to public reporting of response times. The Board approved the production of response time reports to be released quarterly.
Victorian Cladding Taskforce
Chief Officer Steve Warrington provided the Board with an update on CFA’s involvement with the Victorian Cladding Taskforce, and the Board requested that it be updated regularly on this important issue.
The Board discussed the current funding arrangements between CFA and VFBV, noting the need for a high level of transparency and accountability over the allocation of public funds and approved an increase in funding to the VFBV to enable it to support the welfare of brigades.
The Chief Executive Officer provided her report to the Board, highlighting that a CFA Mental Health and Wellbeing Framework is under development.
Chief Officer's report
The Chief Officer reported to the Board, noting that CFA’s organisational readiness is on track in preparation for the 2017-18 fire season.
To continue to improve its understanding of operational matters, the Board was also provided with an operational update on technical rescues.