District 4 wins Spirit of CFA Award for Excellence in Innovation

Member News image (left to right): Wayne Munro and Tim Phillips with CFA Deputy Chair Michelle McLean


District 4 has received the 2020 Spirit of CFA Award for Excellence in Innovation (team) at this year’s ceremony.


At a District Planning Committee (DPC) meeting in early 2019, a report was tabled about turnouts in District 4 over the past 12 months. It showed that it had been a quiet year for fires, but there had been a large increase in attendance at motor vehicle accidents with fatalities and serious injuries.  

Due to the remoteness of some of the brigades attending the scenes, CFA members had sometimes been on scene for up to an hour before Ambulance Victoria or police arrived. Darren Carle ex-Captain of Portland brigade raised the issue with DPC.  

“The biggest issue is members are taking home the burden of what they had dealt with and it quite often spreads to their family members as secondary PTSD,” Darren said.    

This is when Group Officer for Merino Wayne Munro recognised a need to provide better support and debriefings with members before they head home. Wayne put together a team in CFA to create the District 4 Remote Brigade After Action Review. 

“I decided to create a document that is easily accessible to help initiate discussion among members and to make sure they go home knowing they did the best they could under the circumstances,” Wayne said.  

“It is paramount that we care for our members’ health and especially our newer and younger members who may experience traumatic events, whether that be an MVA or a fire.”  

Wayne gathered a team around him to develop the document ensuring it met CFA guidelines and approvals. Along with District 4 Northern Catchment Team, Steve Cooper, Tim Phillips, and South West Region’s Wellbeing Team of Trudy Deller and Miriam Day, they created a simple reference tool that is readily available at the station, allowing teams to begin the conversation and connect members with immediate support and comradeship. 

The document was presented to the DPC, who agreed that the kits should be displayed in the fire station or placed in vehicles. The document has since been distributed to all District 4 volunteer brigades and have been hung in motor rooms, offices and placed in vehicles for easy access.  

District 4’s Brigade Administrative Support Officer Tim Phillips said a number of members from other brigades have also commented on the value and accessibility of the tool and how it has supported leaders to begin the conversation with crews immediately after an incident. There have been requests from other districts for copies of the kit.  

“In District 4 we have a large number of remote brigades and they are usually the first on scene at any incident and they end up holding the fort for our Road Rescue Team, the police and other emergency services.” 



Submitted by CFA Media