Update from the ACO of Health, Safety, Environment and Wellbeing, Chris Stephenson

I’m now five months into my new role at CFA as the ACO of Health, Safety, Environment and Wellbeing. 


Having worked alongside CFA for a long time, I was really excited to join CFA to broaden my experience and contribute to a different aspect of the sector. What appealed to me most was the fact that CFA does and can do so much good for the community. I have nothing but respect for the people who volunteer or come to work to protect Victorians.

Believe it or not I started my career as a firey back in 1991 with Forest Fire Management Victoria (FFMV). After a season I realised that my real passion was in bushfire and emergency management. I enjoyed it more than any aspect of the job and I got a lot of satisfaction from working around people with similar motivations.

After a number of different roles within DELWP, I was lucky enough to pick up the role of Assistant Chief Fire Officer for FFMV in Gippsland which I really enjoyed; managing bushfire response, planning burning, fuel, and forest management across almost half of Victoria’s public land was pretty interesting.

Things have changed a lot in in our space in the past 30 years. I think the public expect a lot more of emergency management now, including expecting us to work seamlessly with other agencies. 

At CFA, my role is to help improve our performance across four key areas: Health, Safety, Environment and Wellbeing but in more simple terms it’s to make CFA a better place to work and volunteer

My goal is to lead and work with all CFA people to make our jobs safer, to make sure CFA is proactively working towards making a difference for all members. I also want for us to work with our communities so that fires and emergencies have as little negative impact as possible on both people and the environment.

I am really interested in talking to people about not only what CFA needs to do but also what individuals can do in what can often be a dynamic and risky space. It takes individuals and teams to make good decisions based on their training and experience and we shouldn’t forget how important this is across all of our work. 

Fire is such a huge risk in our part of the world and I think that if we stay focused on improvement and working with local communities I think we can achieve some pretty amazing outcomes.  

Author: ACO of Health, Safety, Environment and Wellbeing, Chris Stephenson