THE top brass from Victoria’s Country Fire Authority (CFA) and representatives of brigades from across Victoria descended on Foster Fire Station last Friday for the official launch of a package of online learning tools designed to improve the availability and delivery of training for fire fighters.
Foster CFA brigade captain David Jones and fellow brigade members were proud to host a crowd which numbered almost 100 people, including CFA Chief Officer Euan Ferguson, CFA Chief Executive Officer Mick Bourke and the chair of the CFA Board, Kerry Murphy.
The package was officially launched by the Member for Gippsland South, Peter Ryan, who is also Deputy Premier and Minister for Emergency Services.
The official proceedings began with a minute’s silence for the victims of the Black Saturday bushfires, which occurred almost three years ago to the day.
The CFA Executive Director of Operational Training and Volunteerism, Lex de Man, then explained that as part of a strategy to underpin the delivery of training to both career and volunteer firefighters, the CFA is introducing a number of initiatives to assist brigades to access the latest learning materials, simplify the delivery of skills maintenance training and record that training online.
“This includes a program which provides each member with the opportunity to access current endorsed training materials online,” he said.
As part of the WebTRAIN system, members’ training can be conveniently, accurately and efficiently recorded, assisting brigades to monitor the maintenance of members’ skills.
“It is important to note that this is not replacing any practical training – it is simply another means to which we can offer additional and accessible training to our members,” said Mr de Man.
New training initiatives also meet recommendations of the Jones Inquiry (following the Black Saturday bushfires) which investigated the effect of arrangements on CFA volunteers.
“The Inquiry gave a voice to volunteers. It provided valuable recommendations for this organisation moving forward, including support for initiatives already underway,” Mr de Man said.
“It is because of this that CFA sought significant input from our members, including volunteers, to develop and tailor these programs.”
Mr de Man said CFA’s operations rely on the skills of more than 59,000 volunteers and 1,500 paid staff, which is why it is vital the organisation is continually building on and improving the way it delivers and provides training to members.
The CFA training initiatives include:
- A skills maintenance drills folder – scenario-based drills to assist brigades plan and conduct training relevant to their community risk profile;
- WebTRAIN – a portal that allows each brigade the opportunity to enter skills maintenance training directly online;
- Online Training Material – learning modules which focus on brigade skills profiles and specialist roles;
- Emergency Services Off-Road Driving DVD – practical advice on how to deal with a range of routine hazards often encountered while driving in adverse conditions.
Mr Ryan said the work of CFA volunteers and career fire fighters was fundamental to protecting Victoria from the threat of bushfires and ensuring the safety of people and property.
“The new online training tools are a great initiative that will help overcome barriers such as distance and isolation and ensure all members have access to up-to-date, consistent information and training resources across the organisation,” he said.
CFA Chief Officer Euan Ferguson said that of critical importance is the fact that the new package will allow local volunteer leaders to deliver training at a local level – and record what level of training each member has.
Mr Ferguson took the opportunity of the launch to congratulate and present framed certificates to three of the latest people to qualify as wildfire fighters with the CFA – Julie McClaren (Adviser, Government Relations, CFA), Mick Bourke (CFA Chief Executive Officer) and Peter Ryan (Minister for Emergency Services)!