The CFA Board held its last meeting for 2018 on 10 December, and considered a full agenda of issues to round out the year.
All Board meetings begin with an Acknowledgement of Country by the Chair, Mr Greg Smith AM, as well as a Safety Share.
At this meeting, the Safety Share was provided by the Deputy Chief Officer, Regional Services, who provided information on the national survey on mental health conducted by BeyondBlue - Answering the Call - which had been completed by over 2,000 CFA members. The Board noted its previous commitment to support mental health strategies at CFA, and recommitted to CFA’s approach to support mental health and wellbeing.
As a key item of business, the Board discussed CFA’s capacity to deal effectively with complaints, noting that there had been a number of enhancements made to the complaints process over the past year. The Board committed to continue to review and improve the complaints process, to ensure that outstanding matters are resolved and improvements continue throughout 2019.
The Chief Executive Officer spoke to his monthly report to the Board, highlighting:
- the Summer Fire Campaign was launched on 4 December with two key messages: Plan and Prepare (December); and Stay Informed (January-February);
- there are meetings occurring of the both the CFA Working Group and the Interdepartmental Committee (IDC) for the 2009 Victorian Bushfires 10 Year Anniversary; and
- all major metropolitan TV channels had participated in a shortened version of the Linton Staff Ride to mark 20 years since the tragedy.
Chief Officer's report
The Deputy Chief Officer, Regional Services, spoke to the Chief Officer’s report, highlighting:
- Low Voltage Fuse Removal training has commenced with volunteer brigades;
- a Safe Work at Heights Instructor Information Day was held at Bangholme at the end of November, to help increase instructor capacity; and
- arrangements for the Mental Health First Aid 'Train the Trainer' program are being finalised.
Safe water for training
The Board discussed the necessity of providing safe water for training, and noted that the Environmental Compliance Program had issued the Water Management System Tender in March 2018. The Board approved the recommended tenderer, noting that the construction works are scheduled to be completed by April 2020.
Eltham Fire Station
The Board noted that in April 2018 the Victorian Government announced that the former Eltham Fire Station would re-open as a volunteer-only brigade. In accordance with the Government’s direction, the Board endorsed the existing station on Brougham Street, Eltham, becoming the base for a career-only brigade to be named the Eltham City Fire Brigade. The Eltham City Fire Brigade is expected to commence operations before the end of February 2019.
Sufficient firefighters for the fire season
The Board discussed the need to be absolutely confident that CFA has sufficient firefighters with the required skills for the 2018-19 fire season, noting the Chief Officer’s direction that all firefighters must have completed minimum skills, hazardous trees and entrapment training prior to attending on the fire ground. The Board noted that it had received a number of briefings on this issue over the last few months, and asked that the Chief Officer provide an updated “Statement of Readiness” to the Board before Christmas.
Child Safety Framework
The Board discussed CFA’s progress in implementing the Child Safety Framework, noting that within the Framework there are five key priority projects which are being undertaken by CFA. The Board also received an update on the implementation of the Board’s direction on expanding the requirement for all adult members of brigades with children to obtain a Working with Children Check.
Child Safe Organisation
The Board reiterated its commitment to ensuring that CFA is a Child Safe Organisation, and noted that the Chief Executive Officer will be closely monitoring the expansion of Working with Children Check requirements as well as providing additional resources to brigades and districts to support this initiative.
Trainers and assessors
The Board received advice on changes to the standards for Registered Training Organisations relating to trainers and assessors, noting that CFA is implementing a range of actions to ensure that there are sufficient trainers with the required qualifications when the standards come into effect on 1 April 2019.
At its previous meeting in November, the Board had asked the Executive to undertake a “deep dive” analysis of the eight fire fatalities that had occurred in Quarter 1 of 2018/19. The Board considered this analysis, noting that the absence of working smoke alarms appeared to be a factor in several of the fires. The Board was briefed on the action CFA is taking to reduce community risk by improving prevention of, and preparedness for, residential fires.
The Chair of the Board concluded the meeting by thanking the Board, staff and volunteers of CFA for their work over the past year. He wished all in CFA a very happy Christmas and an enjoyable, and above all else safe, holiday season.