Congratulations to Rockbank Fire Brigade and Support Team for winning the Excellence in Sustainability Planning team award in the 2018 Spirit of CFA Awards.
Rockbank brigade members Derek Ramsay and Rishi Prabhakar with Kirsten Dudink, Lachlan Redman and Chanel Forbes
In 2014, Rockbank Fire Brigade, which is between Melton and Caroline Springs in District 14, was finding it very difficult to protect its community. Poor leadership and poor operational skills meant the brigade’s long-term viability was in doubt - especially given a predicted boom in housing developments in the brigade’s area.
It was critical for CFA to develop a plan to ensure Rockbank’s sustainability to protect the local community.
To help rebuild the brigade, a support team was set up comprising CFA staff and volunteers. Thanks to this team’s innovative thinking (trialling new approaches and resources), persistence, creativity, effective communication and collaborative focus, the brigade is well on its way to independence, and will no longer rely on Caroline Springs Fire Brigade.
Volunteer Sustainability Team's Kirsten Dudink, OO Lachlan Redman and BASO Chanel Forbes holding new Rockbank recruitment banner
The team first carried out a needs analysis of the brigade using the Brigade Viability Wheel, which highlighted the main challenges faced by the brigade. Next, a sustainability plan was established outlining the strategies needed to tackle these challenges.
The team helped the brigade develop new policies and procedures to support management and governance, and worked with brigade members to put in place management structures that suited the capability of the members. The team also improved the brigade’s training regimen, which resulted in an increase in the number of qualified firefighters.
Team members and brigade members attended community events to promote CFA as a volunteer organisation of choice. This led to recruiting new brigade members, including some from ethnic minority groups.
“Rockbank brigade had such a low membership that they had to put a lot of energy into their community to rebuild their profile,” said team member Kirsten Dudink.
Staff members, including Kirsten, went out door knocking in the community to create awareness of the brigade and to recruit new members. “There was no-one else to do it,” Kirsten said. “The brigade didn’t have the capacity to do it themselves, so staff had to step up.”
Rockbank brigade members Andrew Ingram (left) and Derek Ramsay with OO Shane Bailey
Derek Ramsay is the current Rockbank brigade asset administrator and comms officer. He’s also the only brigade member who has stayed with the brigade through the whole transition over the past four years.
“The work done by the support team was huge for our brigade,” he said. “We wouldn’t be in the position we are in now, on the verge of getting back to being independent, if it wasn’t for the team.
“Around 2012, the brigade was flourishing, but there was friction between some older, active members, and the brigade leadership lost the trust of members. Many members left.
“The team gave me a vision of better things to come, so I stuck at it.” Derek persevered and drove the truck to call-outs by himself.
“The team encouraged me to pursue training and I joined other brigades when they did their training. At turn-outs, I assisted Melton and Caroline Springs’ crews to learn the operational side and I very much appreciated the mentoring from these brigades.”
“I am beyond excited for the promotion of Rockbank brigade,” said team member and BASO Chanel Forbes.
“Rockbank brigade has experienced significant challenges to maintain their viability, but over the past four years they’ve worked really hard, with very few members, to build their capacity.
“They were administrated by Caroline Springs Fire Brigade and now are returning to independence, which is a very significant milestone for the membership.”
Rockbank Fire Brigade members
Author: CFA News and Media