News Roundup - 30 December 2013

Seasonal outlook - Jan-Mar 2014:

New Operations Bulletins:

Latest Statewide Training Calendar (Jan-Jun 2014) has been added to the Training page.

From the Chief Officer:

From the CEO:



Summer Fire Season Preparation

The following is an excellent document prepared by the late Lt Peter Harry in November 2012 for the Mount Macedon Group:

It is worth printing off and working your way through it.



Nillumbik Drought Index

Some interesting graphs illustrating the Drought Index in Nillumbik over the years 1986 to present.  Click on the images for full-sized versions.

Nillumbik Drought Index - 1986-2013


Nillumbik Drought Index - 1986-2013 - years overlaid on each other


Nillumbik Drought Index - - Long Term Average - 1986-2013


Observation Sharing Centre

On reading the latest communication from the Chief Officer he refers to a new CFA initiative "Observation Sharing Centre" which relates to debriefs and lessons learnt. As you will see below access is available to all agencies.
See an extract of his comments below:

Observation Sharing Centre

  • The Observation Sharing Centre has been developed by the CFA to complement our debriefing and learning processes.
  • This is a web based application that can be accessed by all agencies staff and volunteers.
  • The centre allows for the sharing of Observations, Initiatives or Lessons.
  • Observations can now be captured and logged throughout the season, instead of waiting until the end of the season for formal reviews/debriefs and may be made on behalf of a Brigade/Crew/Team/District or individual.
  • The observation may be positive, negative or unexpected experience and may be based on Operational or Non-Operational activities. Initiatives and Lessons can also be shared to ensure CFA are learning from best practice around the State and driving continuous improvement into the future.
  • Your lesson could be a success, a way of doing things safer, more efficiently, a close call....or anything others could learn from.
  • Access to the Observation Sharing Centre is via the FIRS Call Centre (ph.1800 628 844), Brigades Online/CFA Intranet or via the following link: 

Deb Sullivan
Regional Operations Coordinator
Northern & Western Metropolitan Region


Urgent- Operation of the Crew Protection Spray System on 2.4C Medium Tankers

I need to bring to your attention an aspect of appliance design concerning only 2.4C medium tankers which could be a safety issue when operating the Crew Protection System when drafting or using soft suction.

It needs to be noted by all 2.4C users the following;

If the 2.4C Tanker is being used to draft or in a soft suction situation and the crew protection system is activated, the electronic 3 way valve will automatically shut off these types of water supplies and switch to the tank supply.

All deliveries continue to work normally and so will the side tank fill.

However the issue now arises of the crew only being limited to what water is in the tank and unless they are aware of this design feature, they may still be expecting the volumes of water from the drafting or mains to be available.

Therefore this feature of the design reverting automatically to the tank whenever the CPS is activated if unknown by the crews could leave them unexpectedly with only limited water.

CFA will soon notify impacted Brigades of this issue either using a safety alert or letter, however for expediency can you please let these Brigades with this type of tanker know the current situation.

From an operational prospective, this feature creates a risk only if the crews are unaware of the automatic supply change over as the pump is capable of supplying in excess of 900 lts per minute and in most situations if time permits the use of the deliveries is a better option for protection in a burn over than the CPS if reliable mains are available or large bodies of water for drafting. However if the crew decides to use both the deliveries and the CPS system simultaneously, they will run out of water very quickly when the tank empties. Or if they decide just to use the CPS, they will only be limited to the water left in the tank.

This design feature is being urgently evaluated to examine what changes need to be made. I'll keep you advised when a decision is made which should not be long away.

Can you please make the Brigades with this type of tanker aware of this situation as it does not appear in its training material or is there any indicator to alert the members of the automatic defaulting to the tank whenever the CPS is activated?


Gary Weir
Operations Manager, Wildfire Planning & Forestry Industry Brigades
Fire & Emergency Management Team

Fire Restrictions Now In Force


The Fire Danger Period (FDP) for Nillumbik and Whittlesea Shires commenced Monday 23 December 2013.

Fire restrictions apply from this date and burn-offs without a permit will not be permitted.

Refer to the CFA website for more information about burn-offs.

Community Safety

CFA have updated two publications that will help you to pass on fire safety information to your community.

The Members Quick Reference Guide recognises that all CFA members are highly respected in their community. This guide helps you create conversations with local residents, answer their questions and promote fire safety.

This year's guide includes grassfire key messages specifically for people living on the urban fringe, updated house fire statistics and updated images and descriptions of top resources. As well as being on Brigades Online, you can ask your district office for a printed copy.

The new Fire Ready Kit includes a section on 'What to do to stay informed', including where to find warnings and updates. There's a strong emphasis on the practicalities of planning, beginning with the basics of preparing before the fire season, through to planning what to do if fire is in the area and people can't leave.

Above all, this kit provides a step-by-step guide to leaving early with a blunt message about shared responsibility from Chief Officer Euan Ferguson. As Euan writes in the kit's foreword, "CFA – as always – will do everything we can to protect lives and property. But there is only so much we can do. There will never be enough firefighters, fire trucks and firefighting aircraft to have these resources at everyone's back door during a large bushfire. The responsibility for surviving the fire season is shared between emergency services and the community."

Highly detailed, the kit is not for every community member. But for those people engaged in bushfire planning who want up-to-date information, it's CFA's go-to document.

The Fire Ready Kit will be available in limited numbers from your district's community education coordinator from 22 November.

A shorter handout covering the basics of ratings, warnings, planning, preparation and leaving early is currently in the works. This handout is designed for use at a wide range of events and targets a broad audience. Progress on this handout will be posted on

Chief Officer's Intent for the Summer Season

I recently delivered an intent for the summer season to CFA Operations Managers and Operations Officers. This will soon be circulated more widely. However, I want to reinforce a number of points in the Execution part of that Intent Statement: Due consideration shall be given to the following factors:

  • The primacy of life. This includes the lives of emergency responders.
  • Lead your team in a way that ensures everyone comes home safe.
  • Take care of yourself and your team.
  • We work as one (with our emergency management partners).
  • Give priority to issuing warnings to people about risks.
  • Hit new fires hard and fast.
  • Greater use of aircraft.
  • Invest in prior planning and preparation.
  • We work with citizens to protect what is important to them.
  • Exercise foresight.
  • Understand your leader's intent (2 levels up) and ensure your intent is understood (2 levels down).
  • We do our best, but we recognise that everyone can always do better.

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