The Annual Brigade Review (ABR) Project is nine months into its pilot phase and the results so far have been encouraging.
To comply with Section 29(b) of the CFA Act, a formal brigade inspection and reporting process was introduced in 2004. The ABR broadens the scope of this process to more fully identify brigade health and capabilities.
Of the 240 brigades nominated to participate in the pilot, more than 140 have already held their sessions. More than 90 staff members and about 1,500 volunteers have been involved with the ABR.
“This is an outstanding achievement considering the very early start to the bushfire season, particularly in South East and North East regions,” Assistant Chief Officer Trevor Owen said. “Our staff and brigades have demonstrated their willingness to have a go at something new.”
The pilot is now being evaluated and the project team has received more than 760 feedback forms from volunteers around the state. More than 40 staff and volunteers have also participated in phone interviews with more to come.
The data will be analysed by the project team and an external specialist. However, at first glance it’s overwhelmingly positive.
Wendouree Fire Brigade participated in an ABR session last November. “It would appear that the ABR process may well turn out to be a huge benefit moving forward,” Captain Garry Drabsch said. “I enjoyed the presentation and look forward to the next episode.”
One of the key highlights for many volunteers was that members outside brigade management teams had the opportunity to participate in the discussions.
“The ABR led to open discussion regarding issues that are currently affecting the brigade. It was good for brigade members to be involved in further planning and development,” First Lieutenant at Myrtleford Fire Brigade Kim Buffet said.
Deputy Chief Officer Peter O’Keefe is leading the project with ACO Trevor Owen. “Volunteers and staff have taken the time to share their views and experiences and to provide genuinely constructive feedback and suggestions about how to improve the process,” Peter said. “It’s great to come on board at the implementation stage of a project knowing it’s been in very capable hands.
“We’d also like to thank those who have maintained their commitment to it throughout this very challenging summer,” he added. “We cannot overstate how important your contribution will be to this project.”