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FAQs

What is happening to Victoria’s fire services?

Victoria’s fire services are being reformed to meet the needs of our rapidly changing state - now and into the future.

The Country Fire Authority (CFA) will be a volunteer firefighting service and Fire Rescue Victoria will be established to lead firefighting in Melbourne and major regional centres.

Both CFA and FRV will work together to keep Victorians safe.

Volunteers are vital to the Victorian community and they will continue to serve the same communities and be enshrined under law.

Fire Rescue Victoria will bring together the Metropolitan Fire Brigade (MFB) and CFA career firefighters from the existing 35 integrated stations under one organisation.

To ensure our fire services can adapt as Victoria grows, an independent Fire District Review Panel will be established to advise on future changes to the boundaries between fire services. The Panel will conduct future reviews of the boundary between fire services, based on population growth, urban development and the volume of Triple 000 calls.

The Government will also deliver long-awaited presumptive rights to cancer compensation for both career and volunteer firefighters.

Questions:

General

Country Fire Authority

Fire Rescue Victoria

Answers:

General

What’s wrong with Victoria’s current fire services? Why are they changing?

Victoria has some of the best firefighters in the world but they currently operate under systems and structures that have not changed since the 1950s.

Under current arrangements, the CFA serves Victoria through a network of 1,220 community-based volunteer brigades and 35 integrated stations staffed by both career firefighters and volunteers. At the same time, the MFB operates in built up areas of Melbourne through a network of 47 stations staffed by career firefighters.

But as a number of reviews and inquiries have made clear, particularly the 2009 Victorian Bushfires Royal Commission, our firefighters are being let down by an outdated structure.

As our population grows and our environment changes, our existing fire services model is struggling to keep up.

In short: just as our state evolves, so too must our fire services.

What happens to the MFB?

Fire Rescue Victoria will be established to lead firefighting in major regional cities and Melbourne. FRV will bring together the MFB and career staff from Victoria’s 35 integrated CFA stations, including the 450 extra career firefighters currently being recruited.

Fire Rescue Victoria will be based on other successful police and emergency services organisations, including the model in New South Wales, and be led by its own Commissioner.

How much is this going to cost the taxpayer?

This is an investment to ensure that we have world class fire services that can keep us safe now and into the future.

The government will invest over $100 million in the fire services. A dedicated $56.2 million CFA Support Fund will strengthen volunteer recruitment, training, brigade support and leadership.

Victoria’s emergency services will also have the very best facilities and equipment, with the establishment of a new Emergency Services Infrastructure Authority (ESIA). One of the first tasks for ESIA will be to work with the CFA on delivering a new $44 million station building program.

Other costs of transitioning CFA integrated stations and Fire Rescue Victoria have been budgeted for.

Is the Fire Services Levy going to be increased to help fund these changes?

No.

Fire and rescue services will continue as normal, and there will be no changes to the total amount collected by the Fire Services Property Levy. The Government will ensure that the total amount collected through the levy will remain at the same rate for the coming two years.

Will there be any loss of jobs?

No.

Our firefighters, be they career or volunteers, along with supporting staff, are critical to keeping the Victorian community safe. All existing MFB and CFA career firefighters will transition into Fire Rescue Victoria and 450 new firefighters are being recruited.

Some support and corporate staff will transfer to Fire Rescue Victoria while some will move to deliver projects at the infrastructure authority.

The amount of assistance for volunteers at CFA will be increased, with more training, administration and brigade support staff.

How will these changes affect fire trucks attending my property in an emergency?

The work of career and volunteer firefighters will continue on the ground to ensure community safety.

FRV, CFA and all of Victoria’s emergency services will work together to respond to emergencies.

The changes in the Fire Services Statement will ensure that Victorians receive a world class fire service no matter where they live.

How will these changes impact fire services for the summer fire season?

There will be no change to the service Victorians receive in the event of an emergency.

When Fire Rescue Victoria commences, it will be fully operational. FRV will have the career firefighters, staff and assets it requires to keep the community safe.

Careful transitional planning will be overseen by the Fire Services Operational Implementation Committee chaired by Mr Greg Mullins AFSM, who oversaw similar reforms in New South Wales and is a former Commissioner Fire and Rescue NSW.

Does this bring Victoria into line with other states?

Yes.

Once Fire Rescue Victoria is operational, Victoria’s fire services model will align with other fire services throughout Australia.

What number do I ring in the case of emergency?

You still call triple zero (000).

Who will attend to my property in the event of a fire?

As always, a team of high-quality firefighters will attend your property. They will be from Fire Rescue Victoria or CFA depending on your district and the scale of the emergency. If the situation requires further emergency services this will be managed when you call triple zero.

How long will it take a fire truck to arrive at my property?

Victoria has some of the fastest response rates in Australia and in dense urban areas the response target is eight minutes. This will not change.

As CFA and Fire Rescue Victoria are separate agencies how will they know who is attending a particular emergency?

When you call Triple 000, the Emergency Services Telecommunications Authority (ESTA) will determine the appropriate resources for your emergency. Depending on where you live ESTA will determined who will be the first responder and which emergency services will attend your fire and/or rescue emergency.

What is an integrated station?

An integrated station includes both career and volunteer firefighters and is run by CFA.

What are the differences between Fire Rescue Victoria and the CFA?

CFA is a volunteer and community focused organisation that supports Victorians during emergencies. CFA also provides vital surge support for major events, particularly bushfires.

Fire Rescue Victoria will lead firefighting in Melbourne and major regional centres, from a network of stations that will be staffed by career firefighters – 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

FRV and CFA will work together to keep Victoria safe and resilient.

When will Fire Rescue Victoria and the CFA have new equipment? How much will it cost?

The reforms include new investment in equipment and support for fire services.

The Government will make sure CFA volunteers have the equipment and support they need, with a dedicated $56.2 million CFA Support Fund to strengthen volunteer recruitment, training, brigade support and leadership.

Victoria’s emergency services will also have the very best facilities and equipment, with the establishment of a new Emergency Services Infrastructure Authority. One of the first tasks for the new authority will be to work with CFA on delivering a new $44 million station building program.

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Country Fire Authority

How will this change affect CFA volunteers?

Volunteers at the CFA’s 1,220 volunteer brigades will continue to serve their local communities and provide vital surge capacity.

They will be supported to do this, through changes to the CFA Act that further enshrine the role of volunteers in the organisation, and via a $56.2 million CFA Support fund for improved training, increased brigade support and improved health, safety and wellbeing.

Victoria’s emergency services will also have the very best facilities and equipment, with the establishment of a new Emergency Services Infrastructure Authority. One of the first tasks for the new authority will be to work with the CFA on delivering a new $44 million station building program.

Legislation will also be introduced to provide firefighters with presumptive rights to cancer compensation. This includes both career and volunteer firefighters.

What happens to CFA volunteers at the 35 integrated stations?

Tailored support will be provided for volunteers at the 35 integrated stations where career firefighters will transfer to FRV.

Volunteers at these stations have strong loyalty and connections to their brigade and local community.

The Government and CFA will work with volunteers in the 35 integrated stations to identify the best solution of each volunteer and each brigade.

How will volunteers co-locating at Fire Rescue Victoria stations work?

Information and engagement sessions will take place over coming weeks and months with volunteers and staff at the 35 integrated stations to plan for the transition. Operational implementation of these changes will be overseen by the Fire Services Operational Implementation Committee.

Can I volunteer at a former MFB station?

The Government is committed to supporting existing volunteer brigades to maintain their connection to formerly integrated stations. Former MFB stations will remain career firefighting stations under FRV.

Will CFA volunteers be supported by Fire Rescue Victoria in an emergency?

Yes.

All emergency services will continue to work together for all hazards across Victoria.

The FRV Commissioner will set the strategic direction and make very clear who is responsible when emergencies happen so that action is immediate, seamless and appropriate.

Volunteers will work closely with Fire Rescue Victoria and other emergency services to provide a vital service to the Victorian community.

Who runs the fire ground – in Fire Rescue Victoria zones and/or in CFA zones? Will career staff answer to volunteers?

Control agency arrangements will not change. The first arriving officer becomes the Incident Controller until replaced in accordance with joint standard operating procedures on transfer of control.

What’s the point of still having volunteer brigades at suburban locations that are now Fire Rescue Victoria stations?

Volunteers in suburban locations provide a valuable service to their communities, including vital surge capacity, and they should be able to continue to do so.

These volunteers have strong loyalty and connections to their local community and station, which the Government wants to preserve and strengthen.

What will the process be for changing integrated stations to volunteer ones?

A transition team has been established to manage this process. Information and engagement sessions will take place over coming weeks and months with volunteers and staff at the 35 integrated stations. Local planning for transition will also begin to take place. Firefighter and support staff representative bodies will be engaged on details of the fire services reforms. Operational implementation of these changes will be overseen by the Fire Services Operational Implementation Committee.

Won’t volunteers get a substandard level of training – which doesn’t integrate with aspects of career firefighters?

No.

The Government is committed to funding new brigade-based training and additional training coordinators focused on local needs, in recognition of calls from volunteers for more flexible and locally delivered training options.

How can I become a CFA volunteer?

The CFA will continue to encourage and welcome new volunteers, because we want to strengthen the CFA.

People interested in becoming a volunteer firefighter with the CFA should visit their local brigade, or go online to www.cfa.vic.gov.au for further details.

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Fire Rescue Victoria

Why is Fire Rescue Victoria being established?

The government is taking action to protect CFA volunteers, modernise our fire services and most importantly – keep Victorians safe, wherever they live.

Victoria has some of the best firefighters in the world, but they currently operate under systems and structures that have not changed since the 1950s.

In just the last decade, eight reviews have been undertaken into Victoria’s fire services. Every one of them, including the 2009 Victorian Bushfires Royal Commission, have made it clear that the state’s services are in desperate need of modernisation.

The Government is making changes to address these issues, and ensure Victorians can rely on a modern and local fire service to keep them safe.

When will Fire Rescue Victoria be established?

Legislation to establish Fire Rescue Victoria will be introduced. A commencement date will be announced when the legislation is passed.

On the ground emergency service operations will continue as normal and the community will continue to receive the same high quality services. When Fire Rescue Victoria commences it will be fully operational with the staff and assets it requires to keep the community safe.

What is the Fire Rescue Victoria expanded fire boundary?

Fire Rescue Victoria covers the existing metropolitan fire area and has been expanded to include additional suburban areas and regional cities currently serviced by CFA integrated stations. This tends to be the most densely populated and urbanised areas of our state.

Why are fire services changing in some suburbs and not others?

The metropolitan fire boundaries have not been changed for more than 60 years but our cities and suburbs have grown significantly.

Fire Rescue Victoria covers the existing metropolitan fire area and has been expanded to include additional suburban areas and regional cities covered by the CFA’s 35 integrated stations. In these areas Fire Rescue Victoria will continue to work alongside CFA volunteer brigades.

Who is responsible for reviewing the metropolitan boundaries? How often do boundaries get reviewed?

To ensure our fire services can adapt as Victoria grows, an independent Fire District Review Panel will be established to advise on future changes to the boundaries between fire services. The Panel will conduct future reviews of the boundary between fire services, based on population growth, urban development and the volume of Triple 000 calls.

When will the Fire District Review Panel be established?

The Fire District Review Panel will be appointed by the Minister for Emergency Services.

What criteria will the Fire District Review Panel use?

The Panel will conduct future reviews of the boundary between fire services, based on population growth, urban development and the volume of Triple 000 calls.

Why are some regional districts under Fire Rescue Victoria and not CFA?

Some regions in Victoria have experienced substantial growth in the past 60 years. The initial areas brought within Fire Rescue Victoria are those serviced by CFA’s 35 integrated stations. These are areas that due to population and increasing urban fire risk require stations with career staff operating 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

The independent Fire District Review Panel will make future recommendations on whether changes to the boundary are required.

What about the Lara, Ballarat West and Moe CFA brigades, will they transfer to Fire Rescue Victoria?

The CFA has already been planning to establish integrated stations in these areas. Fire Rescue Victoria and the CFA will continue their planning to ensure these communities continue to have the best possible fire coverage.

When this planning is suitably progressed, another change will be able to be made to the boundary.

How many staff will transfer across to Fire Rescue Victoria?

Approximately 1,200 positions will be transferred to Fire Rescue Victoria. All transfers will be guided by a consultation process. FRV will ensure public safety and support the wellbeing of our career firefighters.

Who runs the fire ground – in Fire Rescue Victoria zones and/or in CFA zones? Will career staff answer to volunteers?

Control agency arrangements will not change. The first arriving officer becomes the Incident Controller, and any changes to this are in accordance with the operating procedures on transfer of control that apply across all of our emergency services.

What will happen with the Enterprise Agreement?

All staff will remain on their current Enterprise Agreement until such time as a new Enterprise Agreement is negotiated with Fire Rescue Victoria employees and their unions and approved by the Fair Work Commission.

Will these changes affect firefighter’s superannuation?

No.

There will be no changes to firefighters’ superannuation entitlements.

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