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NOVEMBER 2016 Edition is available now....
BE PREPARED FOR SUMMER
by Chief Officer Steve Warrington
On 2-3 November, I met with our senior service delivery leaders. The focus across the two days was our operational preparedness for the summer season. Each Region presented on their priorities, issues, challenges and best practice. Naturally there were a number of consistent themes including: ongoing flooding and our resourcing involvement, new grass growth and heightened focus on grassfire risk as the season progresses, fatigue management and our capacity and capability to ensure CFA will be there this summer I also presented on my other priorities for the next six months which are: • Unification - this extends beyond our frontline firefighters to all members with the objective to bring our people together to collectively focus on our commitment to serving the community • Embedding our New Fire and Emergency Management Headquarters structure based on the following portfolios: Urban, Bushfire, Training, Community Safety and Service Delivery Co-ordination and Safety • Partnerships - improving both our internal and external partnerships and the focus on interoperability. • Culture - through both a backward and forward looking lens. CFA has a long and proud tradition with our legislated responsibilities coming largely from the CFA Act 1958. Whilst the Act may have its origins in 1958, CFA must adopt a more innovative, contemporary, unified focus and be an organisation that both promotes and acts to address barriers to diversity and inclusion. I recognise that for CFA this will be a journey and I seek your support in making this a reality. The CFA Equity and Diversity Review, which is being led by the Victorian Equal Opportunity & Human Rights Commission is an important part of this work. A survey which will inform the findings is closing on 18 November. The survey is open to current and former members and accessible from the VEOHRC website. • Operational Priorities - these include workforce planning; Role of the Group; Fitness for Duty; member development; emergency medical response; and progressing the implementation of the 350 firefighters Government commitment.
I also heard about a number of recent innovations to improve our systems and processes and support us all in making evidence based decisions. These include: trialing a fuel based Fire Danger Index, a Learning Management System for all things training and an Incident Management Team Availability Tool.
On a final note I highlight the recent additional $20m funding that CFA has received from Government for appliances, Personal Protective Equipment and workwear uniforms for brigade members in leadership roles. The recent announcement also including information on a new Emergency Services Volunteer Sustainability Grants Program, with $15 million in grants available to volunteers in 2016-17. The program will complement existing grants programs. Information on what the program covers and how to apply is available from the Emergency Management Victoria website.
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DRONE USE PROVIDES VITAL FLOOD INFORMATION
WITH MAJOR flooding affecting many parts of the State over past weeks CFA crews have been heavily involved supporting SES and local land holders throughout operations during rising waters which followed with the ensuing clean up and recovery.
For Nathalia Group it has been an extremely busy time with Deep Creek, Broken Creek and the Murray River causing particular concern to local areas.
“Local brigades rallied to assist farmers and SES around Strathmerton and Yalca Yielema whilst rising waters from the Murray caused a threat to Barmah and Lower Moira,” said Group Officer Paul Fulton.
“CFA crews worked with sandbagging around the township of Barmah and Lower Moira with the caravan park also flooding.”
In early October two MFB firefighters – Leading Fire Fighters David Rylance and Kai Herzberg – arrived with a drone and were tasked to work from the Shepparton ICC. This was used to fly over Ulupna Island, Tocumwal, Barmah and lower Moira and other affected areas to gather data. “From the fly-overs the drones collect imagery (photos and videos) of flooded areas for future resource deployment and to assist locals in planning and protection of key assets from an aerial perspective.
“Seeing the drones in action raised our awareness for their usefulness in so many other key roles. The use of drones within CFA in the future could well extend to fires, rescues, hazmats and many other types of incidents.”
Crews from neighbouring Groups also assisted with sandbagging and provided additional personnel to give the night shift crew to give a well earned rest. Captain Murray Blair, who took over the Barmah Fire Brigade leadership in July, did an outstanding job in co-ordinating the large-scale effort throughout the flooding.
Tanker donation a boost for Omeo
Mount Taylor Fire Brigade has donated its new single cab light tanker to Omeo Fire Brigade. This appliance will be based at Omeo Brigade’s satellite station in Cobungra. The Cobungra station was built in 2014 and designed as a satellite station of Omeo Brigade, which has just approximately 70 members. Ten of these members will turn out with this light tanker from the satellite. Member David Butler and wife Rhonda are Cobungra residents. To them and other nearby residents the new single cab light tanker is a huge positive.The tanker will service Cobungra, Hotham airport, and support Mount Hotham – Dinner Plain Brigade also. Says David: “With Omeo and Mt Hotham Brigades being over 40 minutes away, it provides a great security to the local area. We have attended many vehicle accidents on the Great Alpine Road, especially during winter because of the very icy roads. Also during summer the beauty of living here is we can see some pretty spectacular storms come through but unfortunately we get lightning. With lightning we get bushfires and the new tanker enables us to turn out and get to the fire early before it turns into something too big.” In January this year 12 members from Mount Taylor Brigade took up the single cab light tanker to Omeo as part of Strike Team to provide asset protection to the Omeo township. At the time the tanker was only 6 months old. Captain Ken Stuart (Mount Taylor) said: “As a result of a successful VESEP grant in 2015, we are getting a new appliance suitable to our area. With the population expansion locally we needed a unit that can seat five members instead of three. “It was without hesitation that our brigade wanted to donate the single cab light tanker to Omeo Brigade because it has history there. Plus Cobungra station as the crow flies is directly north west of Mount Taylor, so the donated tanker should be encouragement for getting fires out before they reach us!” Captain Graham Symons (Omeo) stated that: “We are very grateful for this donation, it means a great deal to our brigade and the community. For our younger members there is a new fire station and a new tanker located at Cobungra. We extend a huge thank-you to Mount Taylor Fire Brigade, and CFA.”
fighters up to date on developments within the organisation. It has also given brigades and
firefighters an opportunity to contribute items and make comments on a wide range of