This Quarter 2 (Q2) Fire Services Outcomes Framework Progress Report outlines the Fire Services Implementation Monitor (FSIM)’s observations of Country Fire Authority (CFA) and Fire Rescue Victoria (FRV)’s performance against their respective outcomes framework indicators.
CFA and FRV published their respective Year Two Outcomes Frameworks in October 2021. FRV continues to refine its Year Two Outcomes Framework indicators and, given the Year Two indicators are not yet finalised, has reported against both its Year One and a limited number (5) of Year Two Outcomes Framework indicators in Q2.
FSIM also notes that CFA continue to use baselines to assess performance in the Year Two Framework. Baselines are not always an effective tool to measure improved performance, particularly when they do not show improvements over time. In order to provide clearer assurance to community, CFA should consider how the baselines can be used in conjunction with targets to provide a clearer measure of performance.
The reformed fire services have now been in place for a year and a half. Over that time, FSIM has encouraged agencies to refine and mature their understanding of the linkages between outcomes results and program delivery, noting outcome performance is most useful to the community where impacts can be explained. FSIM’s longer term objective for these outcomes frameworks is for agencies to demonstrate how their activities deliver a modern fire service that protects Victorians, such as demonstrating impacts to the community where a target or baseline is met/not met.
Training and Community Engagement
Both organisations report that COVID-19 related restrictions have resulted in a reduced number of training activities being undertaken in Q2. As restrictions and other COVID-19-related requirements ease, CFA and FRV should take steps to prioritise training and skills maintenance activities, ensuring that there are sufficient firefighters with the right skills to undertake operational and specialist response activities now and into the future.
FRV has been unable to meet its community education and engagement targets since the reform commenced in July 2020. FRV reported no formal community education programs in FY 2020-21 and a year-to-date total of 29 Firelighting Consequence program engagements in Q2 FY 2021-22. This result is significantly below FRV’s comparable Q2 FY 2020-21 target of 80 community engagements. FRV reported that COVID-19 restrictions constrained their capacity to maintain minimum crew levels for operational response and consequently, delivery of non-urgent programs by firefighters was paused for the safety of the community and firefighters.
CFA introduced a new indicator in this quarter relating to the number of training courses completed by CFA members. CFA did not meet the nominated baseline primarily due to course cancellations resulting from COVID-19 restrictions and the prioritisation of work to ensure compliance with the National Units of Competency as prescribed by the Victorian Registration and Qualifications Authority (VRQA).
Community education and engagement activities are a vital tool to equip Victorians with knowledge and skills to prevent and prepare for fire and other emergencies. Further delays to community education program delivery may impact the overall prevention and preparedness capabilities of the Victorian community.
Service Level Agreements
FRV currently reports on the implementation progress of operational service level agreements (SLAs) and the corporate memorandum of understanding (MoU). While FRV is the only agency reporting on this indicator, and the FSIM notes that this indicator is not included in FRV’s Year Two Outcomes Framework, these agreements and MoUs are foundational tools that clarify roles and responsibilities for both CFA and FRV in service delivery provision. Both agencies have responsibilities to progress, finalise, implement and embed the service delivery arrangements outlined in these draft agreements. A number of SLAs remain outstanding and further delays to finalising the SLAs will result in continued service delivery inefficiencies arising from interim administrative arrangements.
FSIM acknowledges CFA and FRV for their cooperation and active contribution to FSIM’s monitoring and reporting activities. This is particularly appreciated given the ongoing administrative and operational pressures CFA and FRV continue to face. As agencies continue to report against their Year 2 outcomes framework, FSIM will be able to set out a clearer baseline of fire service performance against outcomes, following implementation of the reform.