It has been one year since the biggest overhaul of fire services in Victoria in more than 70 years.
New reform legislation for Victoria’s fire services agencies came into effect on 1 July 2020. The legislation brought key changes designed to modernise, integrate, and ensure a sustainable fire services system to keep Victorians safe for years to come.
At the core of the reforms was the establishment of Fire Rescue Victoria (FRV) and restoring the Country Fire Authority (CFA) to a community-based, volunteer firefighter organisation.
Since July last year, career firefighters at 38 CFA brigades have transferred to FRV, with 34 of those brigades now shared stations with career firefighters and volunteers working side-by-side.
The reforms have also meant the state’s 1,220 CFA volunteer brigades have more autonomy and many of the 34 shared stations have appointed their first volunteer captain in their brigade’s history.
The legislation also delivers presumption rights for cancer compensation for all firefighters, meaning eligible firefights do not have to prove that firefighting is the cause of their cancer when they make a claim. Instead, there is a presumption the cancer was a result of firefighting and therefore they will have an entitlement to compensation.
An independent Fire District Review Panel was established in October 2020 to ensure fire services boundaries continue to adapt to population growth and service demand.
In addition, six experts were appointed to FRV’s new Strategic Advisory Committee, with increasing workforce diversity one of the committee’s key remits along with providing advice on organisational governance and cultural change.
In December 2020, the Honourable Niall Blair was appointed the inaugural Fire Services Implementation Monitor. The Monitor’s latest independent report acknowledging the achievements of both agencies in taking active steps to improve data collection and outcome evaluation, and to increase gender diversity in the workplace.
Emergency Management Commissioner Andrew Crisp said Victoria’s new fire services reforms have given Victoria an opportunity to make some important changes:
"Volunteer and career firefighters have always worked side by side to protect lives and properties across Victoria. Over the past year we have taken significant steps towards building a more modern and streamlined fire services sector", said Commissioner Crisp.
"I look forward to continuing the important work of Fire Services Reform".