Reform of Victoria’s fire services

The fire services arrangements in Victoria had their origins in the 1890s. The introduction of the Metropolitan Fire Brigades Act 1958 and Country Fire Authority Act 1958 modernised these arrangements.

Since that time, the fire service arrangements remained largely unchanged until July 2020 when the Metropolitan Fire Brigades Act 1958 was superseded and replaced by the Fire Rescue Victoria Act 1958 (the Act). The Country Fire Authority Act 1958 remains in force.

The Victorian Government recognises that the fire services arrangements must be reviewed to ensure that they meet the needs of a rapidly changing state, and while progress has been made, work is continuing to fully deliver on the recommendations of the 2009 Bushfires Royal Commission and subsequent reviews.

A program of reforms is underway which sets out the government’s vision for Victoria’s fire services – a modern, integrated and sustainable system that responds to the evolving needs of communities. Four priorities have been set:

  • Priority 1: Restore the Country Fire Authority (CFA) to a volunteer- and community-focused organisation.
  • Priority 2: Establish Fire Rescue Victoria (FRV) to lead firefighting in major regional cities and Melbourne.
  • Priority 3: Plan and build for the future.
  • Priority 4: Value our firefighters.

The Fire District Review Panel

As part of Priority 3: Plan and build for the future, the independent Fire District Review Panel (the Panel) was established on 1 July 2020 by the Act with the obligation to discharge functions under section 4 of the Act.

As an independent public entity, the Panel comprises of three members who report directly to the Minister for Emergency Services (the Minister).

Scope of the Fire Rescue Victoria fire district review

Victoria is serviced by both FRV and the CFA, who are each responsible for areas within their defined fire district boundaries.

The Panel’s remit is to provide independent recommendations to the Minister on any changes to FRV fire district boundaries based on changes to fire risk.

The Panel will conduct a risk assessment of the assignment of responsibility necessary for the provision of fire services by fire services agencies, in order to prevent, and protect against, loss of life and damage to property, infrastructure or the environment. Section 4 outlines the factors involved in this proposed risk methodology.

Purpose of this discussion paper

This discussion paper is the first step in the Panel’s consultation on the reviews of the FRV fire district boundaries. It outlines the proposed methodology for the risk assessment and seeks to gather feedback from stakeholders.