Executive Summary

This inaugural annual report provides the Fire Services Implementation Monitor (FSIM)’s assessment of the first eight months of the implementation progress of Victoria’s fire services reforms. The report covers the period 15 October 2020 to 30 June 2021.

The report focuses on delivery against actions in The Year One Fire Services Reform Implementation Plan (the Year One Plan), released by the then Minister for Police and Emergency Services on 15 October 2020. The Year One Plan outlines the foundational arrangements required to establish the new fire services model.

This report does not capture the full first year of progress defined in the Year One Plan (October 2020–October 2021). FSIM recognises that substantial activity will have been undertaken since the end of the reporting period, however a summary of activity to 30 June 2021 provides government and the community with a progress snapshot and outlines early issues and opportunities.

As outlined in the Year One Plan, on 1 July 2020 Victoria’s new fire services arrangements commenced with CFA re-established as a volunteer firefighting agency. The Country Fire Authority Act 1958 (the CFA Act) recognises CFA as a fully volunteer firefighting service under the command and control of the CFA Chief Officer (CO), enshrining the critical role of volunteers in CFA.

The Fire Rescue Victoria Act 1958 (the FRV Act) commenced on 1 July 2020, establishing FRV as a new organisation. FRV brings together all former Metropolitan Fire Brigade (MFB) career firefighters and staff with former CFA career firefighters and support staff. FRV serves metropolitan and greater Melbourne and major regional centres and supports volunteer response where required.

The FRV Act also established three independent bodies to provide oversight of the reform including the Fire District Review Panel (FDRP), FSIM, and Firefighter Registration Board (FRB).

To support the implementation of the reform, the Victorian Government committed $246.2 million over five financial years (FY 2020–21 to FY 2024–25). This included $126 million for CFA and volunteers for new training programs, personal protective clothing, new appliances and stations, and brigade supports.

The Year One Plan set out the transactional requirements to operationalise the legislated amendments and provided a pathway for the transfer of relevant CFA’s assets, liabilities, and employees from CFA to FRV.

FSIM’s year one assessment focused on the foundational and transactional actions required to embed and operationalise the vision for modern, complementary, and sustainable fire services that keep Victorians safe. The assessment is based on three themes: agency capacity and capability under the new model, collaboration, and workplace culture and diversity.

FSIM assessed the progress and effectiveness of Year One Plan actions and provided advice, where relevant, on the extent to which the actions are delivering on the reform objectives. In preparing the report, FSIM engaged with CFA, FRV, EMV, and FDRP to obtain a detailed understanding of progress made against Year One Plan actions. FSIM met with stakeholders across the emergency services and monitoring agencies to better understand the landscape of the fire services reform implementation.

The appointment of FSIM and the supporting office midway through the 2020-21 financial year, and the constraints on engagement activities due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, have limited the scope of FSIM’s review for this first report.