Photo taken via Zoom
On Saturday August 6, the Volunteer Fire and Rescue Services Association executive committee held their quarterly meeting.
They travelled from all over Western Australia to come together at the Old Guildford Fire Station to discuss all matters relating to VFRS and to represent and give a voice to the brigades in their zone.
Because the team only meets face-to-face four times a year, the days are always long to try to fit in as much as possible, and Saturday’s meeting was no different with the day kicking off at 9.00am and the meeting closing close to 6.30pm.
Here is a summary of what happened!
New Executive Committee Members
The Association welcomed Paul Munro from Kalgoorlie VFRS as the new representative for the Goldfields Zone and Ray Bonner AFSM from Newman VFRS for the North West zone.
The VFRS Association President also thanked executive members Shane Munro from Coolgardie VFRS and Gary Deering from Exmouth VFRS for their time and commitment in representing their zone’s during their time as zone representatives.
Strategy Planning Session
The Volunteer Fire and Rescue Services Association has engaged a consultant to assist with creating a five-year strategy. This was the second session working on the strategy with a focus on defining our vision and the processes required for our vision to be achieved.
Breathing Apparatus Refresher Course and Department of Fire & Emergency Services (DFES) Training Courses
At the last executive committee meeting, there was a motion to request for DFES to extend the time between needing to do a Breathing Apparatus (BA) fresher course because it can be difficult for volunteers to re-do every 12 months. This concept failed to be supported by DFES.
An alternative motion was moved by the VFRS Association, and will be submitted to DFES, that a member is required to wear BA six times a year at a minimum (for either maintenance or operational purposes) to renew the BA qualification. The VFRS Association believes sign off by the member’s brigade captain is appropriate to ensure currency of BA qualifications.
The VFRS Association agreed for VFRS trainers to run BA refresher courses as this will resolve many current problems in supplying trainers. Final sign off will be by DFES.
Lack of DFES trainer-assessors is causing the cancellation of many courses. There are many reasons for this occurring, but this does not help our brigades to get the training required. Feedback from DFES to VFRS Association is pending.
There is a lack of training for rescue from electric vehicles involved in an accident. This will be discussed at the next chief supers meeting.
Future Annual General Meetings and Western Australia Fire and Emergency Services (WAFES) Conference
Alternative ideas were discussed if holding a formal VFRS Association Annual General Meeting is disbanded in future years (the Constitution would need to be amended accordingly).
Ideas suggested for the WAFES conference, such as brigade discipline ideas, were rejected by DFES.
Administration Guide, Directive 5.4 with relevance to Brigade Regulations
The VFRS Association believes this should be reviewed ASAP to ensure that it reflects current day operations.
The Council of Australian Volunteer Fire Associations (CAVFA) Annual General Meeting (AGM)
CAVFA is a collaboration of eleven volunteer fire brigade associations within Australia. The Council was established to give volunteer firefighters a united voice in discussions and negotiations with government and key stakeholders.
Executive Member Tony Dodd and EO Ken O’Reilly will represent the VFRS Association when the members of CAVFA meet for their AGM in Adelaide in August 2022.
Find out more about CAVFA and their objectives here.
Having the locations (and last service) of hydrants accessible on a tablet (CAD) will assist with servicing and emergency use. Idea to be proposed at the next Chief Supers meeting.
Discussed the good performance of the VFRS Association’s Youth Committee, how they are operating and their current achievements.
Running Competition / Firefighter Games
The video from the 2021 Easter Championships is being finalised.
The State Junior Competition will be held 26 and 27 November 2022.
Rule changes were ratified by VFRS Association:
2 competitor flaked hose event - shift branches to branch line
New event – 3 hose event for sub juniors, replacing the hydrant race and 1 competitor marshall.
3 parallel hoses event – new event to be introduced. Will require some new arrangements on target discs.
Brigade’s Issues and News
Discussed individual brigade’s issues including, but not limited to:
Brigade new builds and renovations
Light tanker towing.
FYI - When towing a full water trailer with the light tanker, it goes over rear axle weight limits (it’s a manufacturer issue and is irrespective of the GVM upgrade). The water content of trailer must be reduced by 15% to be compliant.
Heavy rescue cache
New captains, including Newman VFRS’s first female captain
VFRS Association visit to Northern zone and North West zone brigades
The VFRS Association discussed the concept paper on height safety. The main point of reference was that risk assessments at the scene will be required. More information will be distributed to VFRS members when it becomes available.
Under Garment Project Advisory Team
Under Garment PAT has met and ideas for suitable attire are being trialed.
Emergency Services Act
The new Emergency Services Act is in its draft stage. The VFRS Association has asked for an in-confidence information session.
DFES is still in the process of organising Microsoft 365 for volunteers.
Automatic Vehicle Location (AVL)
AVL registers the location of an appliance by GPS or mobile tower triangulation. It is a DFES controlled program that can see vehicle locations, who is speeding etc. There is a problem with AVL dropping out.
Maintenance and time seem to be an issue. This will be discussed at a regional level to see what can be done.
If there are any other brigades experiencing a similar problem, please let your VFRS Association zone representative know.
Cel-Fi mobile phone booster for remote brigades
We have asked if DFES will supply this device to VFRS appliances.
Some brigades are funding the Cel-Fi mobile phone booster themselves or finding a sponsor.
The Cel-Fi mobile phone booster costs around $1,500.
The VFRS Association’s position is that the current guidelines are too restrictive, not rewarding people for long and exceptional service, particularly in remote locations.
When is the next VFRS Association meeting?
The VFRS Association executive committee team will meet again Saturday, 5 November 2022.
Do you have a question or would like more information?
The list above is a short summarisation of the topics discussed throughout the meeting.
If you have any questions or would like to know more, please contact your VFRS Association zone representative or the VFRS Association executive officer, Ken O’Reilly on 0419 969 903 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.