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Priority 1

Restore CFA to a volunteer and community focused firefighter organisation

CFA volunteers give more than just their time. They protect the lives and livelihoods of Victorians across our state.

During long campaign bushfires, and other major fire events, volunteers provide a vital surge capacity.

Supporting our volunteers is essential for the future safety of Victoria.

A range of increasing demands has impacted CFA. The needs of volunteers in terms of training, brigade support and equipment have been raised by a number of inquiries. To date, actions to address these issues have been insufficient.

CFA must be supported to maintain its knowledge and experience and to attract new volunteers to reflect Victoria’s changing community.

To address these issues, CFA will be restored to a volunteer and community focused firefighting organisation, further enshrined in law.

Additionally, CFA’s 1,220 volunteer brigades will be provided with extra support and resources so they can continue to make a vital contribution to Victoria’s emergency management.

CFA will continue to be overseen by a board with volunteer representation and a Chief Executive Officer and the Chief Officer. The CFA Act 1958 will be amended to enshrine the important role of volunteers in CFA. This will reinforce the CFA Board’s primary responsibility to support the recruitment, development and retention of volunteer officers. At the same time, the Victorian Government will reaffirm its commitment to the CFA Volunteer Charter.

The Government will provide CFA with additional funding to support and recruit volunteer firefighters in the short, medium and long-term. The Victorian Government will invest $56.2 million to establish the CFA Support Fund. CFA Support Fund will provide $10 million to continue the successful Volunteer Sustainability Grants Program for vital volunteer brigade equipment and facility upgrades.

The Government and CFA will engage with volunteers and Volunteer Fire Brigades Victoria to finalise initiatives under the CFA Support Fund. The CFA Policy and Performance Committee will continue in its role to provide advice on CFA issues, including steering the development of the CFA Support Fund.

CFA support fund

CFA Policy and Performance Committee will manage CFA Support Fund which will:

  • Improve training capacity at the local level: Volunteers are calling for more flexible and locally delivered training options. The fund will support new brigade-based training and additional training coordinators focused on local needs.
  • Expand brigade support: Volunteers are calling for more administrative and brigade support, and reduced red tape. The fund will provide for brigade capital works and equipment, more volunteer support officers and administration support. Successful initiatives that were funded as part of the Volunteer Support Program introduced by the former Labor Government in 2010 will be built upon and expanded.
  • Create better workplace health and safety: Volunteers are exposed to many hazards on the job and are increasingly responding to road crash rescues. The fund will provide extra peer support and counselling for volunteers, and will also assist in equipping CFA firefighters with structural helmets and other safety improvements. Further health and safety measures will be developed in close consultation with the relevant CFA and Volunteer Fire Brigades Victoria joint committee.
  • Enable connected brigades: Volunteers in rural areas continue to call for investment in communications technology to connect brigades over large distances and so they can participate in online training and development opportunities. The fund will support improved technology and internet connectivity in rural areas.

Volunteers at 35 CFA integrated stations

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

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

We understand this, and we want to preserve and strengthen local connections, along with the history, identity and culture of volunteer brigades.

We will work with volunteers in the 35 integrated stations to identify the best solution for each volunteer and each brigade.

Volunteers will be encouraged and supported to remain as a CFA brigade at their current location, co-located with their Fire Rescue Victoria colleagues.

We will also support any volunteers who wish to transfer in order to bolster other CFA brigades, or to transfer into career firefighting for those qualified and interested in joining Fire Rescue Victoria.

Volunteers at 1,220 brigades

CFA’s 1,220 volunteer brigades will continue to serve and protect their communities just as they always have.

CFA volunteer brigades in areas near the 35 integrated stations will continue to operate under the leadership of the CFA Chief Officer.

Volunteer brigades will work closely with Fire Rescue Victoria and other emergency services to provide their vital service to the community.

Existing assignment areas for individual brigades will continue to be under the control and direction of the Chief Officer. In areas where Fire Rescue Victoria will be designated as the first responders, volunteer surge capacity, activity levels, and back-up responses will be preserved.

 

Last updated: May 18, 2017

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