Progress of Action 3.6

Action 3.6: Rollout of the FRV Personal Protective Clothing (PPC) ensembles as part of the PPC project.

Action objective: New structural ensemble delivered in accordance with FRV specifications and delivery timelines. All FRV firefighters are to be supplied with the new generation PPC structural ensemble.

Lead agency: FRV

Year Two to Five Plan (November 2021) completion dateYear Two to Five Plan (updated May 2023) completion dateAgency reported status as at 30 June 2023
June 2023June 2023In progress – minor delays

Context

This action requires FRV to roll-out 12,000 next-generation Structural Personal Protective Clothing sets (Structural PPC) and 8,000 Wildfire Personal Protective Clothing sets (Wildfire PPC) that meet FRV specifications by June 2023. Introducing these next-generation PPCs will ensure that all FRV firefighters possess the right resources to effectively perform their duties and safeguard their safety.[23]

FRV advises that ‘roll-out’ encompasses procurement, testing, distribution, and training associated with the new equipment.

Progress summary

FRV entered a contract to procure 12,000 sets of Structural PPC and 8,000 sets of Wildfire PPC, including helmets, jackets, trousers, gloves, boots, and respiratory protection equipment in January 2021. As of 30 June 2023, FRV had distributed 8,400 Structural PPC sets (70 per cent) and 4,300 Wildfire PPC sets (54 per cent) to FRV firefighters. With this rollout, 3,070 FRV firefighters and 204 FRV firefighters seconded to CFA had received next-generation PPC.

The FRV Uniform Sub-Committee has governance oversight for this project and the Project Team reports to this committee monthly on progress and challenges in rolling out PPC.

FSIM received evidence that FRV worked collaboratively with the UFU and the selected supplier to develop the specifications and design of the next-generation PPC throughout FY 2020-21.[24] FRV reported that the Structural PPC procurement process involved extensive research, rigorous performance testing to confirm compliance with the joint Australian/New Zealand Standards 4967 Protective Clothing for Firefighters (2009) (AS/NZS4967)[25] and wearer trials to ensure the safety and welfare of FRV firefighters. Additionally, FRV provided evidence to FSIM that demonstrated consultation with CFA on its requirements for the new Structural and Wildfire PPC for staff seconded from FRV.

FRV advised that the December 2022 cyber-attack severely impacted its information and computer technology systems and impacted FRV’s ability to access information. As a result, at the time of reporting, FSIM had not sighted evidence on the research and performance testing FRV conducted to confirm the next generation Structural PPC meets the AS/NZ4967 requirements or the full FRV wearer trials. FSIM notes that FRV has advised that both are completed.

FRV actively sought feedback from firefighters during the rollout process to address concerns and issues. Feedback was overwhelmingly positive, with staff noting that the next generation Structural PPC and Wildfire PPC provided enhanced comfort, mobility, and protection.

FRV notes that the next-generation Structural PPC provides clear visual differentiation compared to the current FRV PPC. The next-generation PPC offer better burn prevention, better ergonomics to enable more freedom of movement, and reflective tapes provide glow in-the-dark visibility. FRV further notes that the next generation Structural PPC are offered in styles to fit both men and women, an example of FRV working towards their Strategic Plan outcome to prioritise all staff safety and wellbeing, regardless of gender.

After rolling out the next generation Structural PPC and Wildfire PPC, FRV informed FSIM that it intended to repurpose the existing PPC (former MFB and CFA) as pool garments for FRV firefighters and are also consulting with CFA about the possibility of returning some former CFA PPC to CFA to be used by volunteer firefighters.

FRV is preparing an exit strategy to transition the next-generation PPC project into regular operations to equip all FRV firefighters with the new Structural and Wildfire PPC ensemble. FRV plans to transition PPC delivery to BAU once the 80 per cent delivery threshold is reached.

Findings

FSIM finds action 3.4 is progressing. FSIM notes that all core FRV PPC roll out activities are completed, and procurement arrangements are in place to support the remaining rollout in Q1 and Q2 FY 2023-24.


Footnotes

[23]FRV defined “all firefighters” as all “operational firefighters” including those seconded to CFA and non-operational firefighters, such as PADs.

[24]Fire Services Implementation Monitor, 2021, Annual Report 2020/21 Year One: Setting the foundations, Victorian Government, viewed 15 August 2023, https://www.vic.gov.au/fire-services-implementation-monitor-annual-report-2020-21, p 71.

[25] AS/NZS 4967-2009, Protective clothing for firefighters – Requirements and test methods for protective clothing used for structural firefighting

Updated