Establish Fire Rescue Victoria to lead firefighting in major regional cities and Melbourne
While Victoria’s cities, suburbs and regional areas have transformed in dramatic ways, the current boundary between areas serviced by MFB and CFA has remained largely unchanged for nearly 60 years.
The population of metropolitan Melbourne is projected to grow by a further 3.5 million people by 2051 and its outer suburbs are some of the fastest growing communities in Australia. Major regional cities are also experiencing significant population growth.
It is our population and economic growth that means that our fire services must adapt to meet the needs of our rapidly changing state.
“Broadly, the existing arrangements have been in operation since early last century, but the demands made of, and the expectations attached to, the agencies have outpaced these structures and the environment in which they operate.” – 2009 Victorian Bushfires Royal Commission Final Report
Noting this, the 2009 Victorian Bushfires Royal Commission made recommendations for immediate operational improvements to the state’s fire services. It noted that further reform to the structure of the services would need to be considered in coming years.
Since then, a number of improvements have occurred. But at the same time, the demands placed upon career staff and volunteers at CFA integrated stations have increased dramatically.
Population growth, urbanisation and changes to the environment have all meant that the needs of Victorian communities have outgrown the existing fire services model.
Demand on CFA integrated brigades staffed by career firefighters and volunteers
- In 2006, integrated brigades across the state responded on 19,806 occasions. In the decade to 2016 this increased to 27,167 responses.
- The number of responses from metropolitan Melbourne’s integrated brigades has increased from 10,677 to 16,669 over the period from 2006 to 2016. This represents a 56 per cent increase.
- In 2006 CFA integrated brigades at Geelong City, Corio, Ocean Grove and Belmont responded 2,796 times. By 2016, this had increased to 4,971 responses.
- Ballarat City integrated brigade responses have increased 58 per cent from 1,007 in 2006 to 1,591 in 2016.
- Bendigo integrated brigade responses have increased 44 per cent from 849 in 2006 to 1,222 in 2016.
A new organisation called Fire Rescue Victoria (FRV) will be established to provide fire services to densely populated urban areas across Victoria.
FRV will bring together the MFB with CFA career firefighters. FRV will service the areas covered by MFB and by CFA’s 35 integrated stations. Any future changes to these boundaries will be as a result of determinations of the independent Fire District Review Panel.
The new role of FRV Commissioner will be created to lead the organisation. This is consistent with recommendations from the Fire Services Review and emergency management best practice. It is also consistent with the model used by other fire services throughout Australia and by Victoria Police.
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. The FRV Commissioner will be supported by a Strategic Advisory Committee to advise on future directions for FRV.
FRV will encompass both MFB and CFA career firefighters, including the 450 extra firefighters currently being recruited. FRV brigades will have life-saving Emergency Medical Response capability and will work alongside other emergency services to provide road accident rescue.
These changes will create a deeper and wider pool of highly qualified career firefighters within the one organisation.
It means that all career firefighters will be afforded the same training structures, have similar career progression pathways, and have clear roles and responsibilities – regardless of where they work in Victoria. This will create a flexible, adaptive workforce that is able to deal with a wider range of emergencies.
This new structure recognises the valuable history of MFB and CFA, and will allow for the positive changes needed to create modern and responsive fire services. FRV will serve alongside our other emergency services to keep Victorians safe. And, at all emergencies, all of our services will continue to work as one.
Last updated: May 18, 2017