Update from ACO South West Region, Rohan Luke

Fit for Duty is one of Chief Officer Steve Warrington’s five challenges in the CFA Plan, and it’s currently being developed by South West Region.


John Haynes, Executive Director Volunteers and Strategy and COS Andy Waterson complete the physical task-based activities being considered as part of Fit for Duty.

At CFA, we spend so much time protecting the lives of Victorians. Fit for Duty aims to protect the lives of CFA people. We want to ensure our firefighters are safe to perform their duties. It’s important we consider the physical and psychological aspects of the work we do and how we can take care of ourselves and each other into the future.

The Fit for Duty Program is a new initiative for CFA to address the physical and psychological demands associated with firefighting. The program aims to increase the safety of our members, improve access to health services, and provide a supportive and healthy work environment - with minimal impact on brigades.

The program is undergoing pilot testing in the South West Region with operational volunteers from class 4 and 5 brigades. We’re also meeting with class 1 to 3 brigades to work out how Fit for Duty might look for them. The Fit for Duty Team is working closely with members from these brigades to learn more about how the program can be best tailored to suit them.. As this is a pilot, volunteers have the opportunity to shape the program and provide feedback at every stage.

There has been some great feedback and suggestions on the program that is currently being trialled, with components including medical screening, task-based activities and mental health education and awareness opportunities. The majority of brigades participating in the pilot have so far provided positive feedback, with a common message being that this concept has been a long time coming. 

The DCOs and ACOs including myself have taken part in the proposed components of the program including the physical task-based activities being considered:  a hose wind, rake hoe and hose drag. These were developed by Deakin University based on research on the physical demands of tanker-based firefighting. As it’s currently in pilot testing, these components of Fit for Duty are not confirmed. In fact, we’ve already seen refinements made to the program, and this will continue to make sure Fit for Duty will have minimal impact on volunteers and brigades. 

Thank you to all the volunteers participating in the pilot for their enthusiasm and above all, their feedback. The collaboration and camaraderie amongst brigades and their members has been fantastic to see. I’m really proud of what you and the team behind the Fit for Duty pilot has achieved.

There is more work to come. Following sufficient trials and development, the Chief Officer will determine when the program will be implemented state-wide. For now we will continue to test and refine the program until it is at a stage where it is appropriate for broader rollout.

For more information on Fit for Duty visit the intranet or email fitforduty-feedback@cfa.vic.gov.au

I look forward to sharing more information with you as we move through the pilot process.

Author: Rohan Luke, ACO South West Region