Progress of Action 4.3

Action 4.3: Complete delivery of the volunteer’s health and safety initiatives program; specifically, the wildfire respiratory protection trial, the firefighter safety compliance initiatives and the wildfire PPC project.

Action objective: Through delivery of the volunteer’s health and safety initiatives program, CFA volunteers are skilled and capable, and feel safe and supported.

Lead agency: CFA

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 2024June 2024In progress – significant delays

Context

This action requires CFA to deliver the Volunteer Health and Safety Initiatives Program. This program includes the following initiatives:

  1. Wildfire Respiratory Protection Trial Project
  2. Wildfire Personal Protective Clothing (Wildfire PPC) Project
  3. Safety Compliance Program.

Progress summary

As at 30 June 2023, CFA reported delays and advised that this action will not be completed by June 2024 due to COVID-19 supply chain disruptions, staffing constraints and industrial action. As a result, CFA intended to submit a 12-month action extension request to the Minister.

CFA has provided evidence to confirm progress for initiatives under the Volunteer Health and Safety Initiatives Programs as at 30 June 2023:

1. Wildfire Respiratory Protection Trial Project

The Wildfire Respiratory Protection Trial Project aims to enhance wildfire protection for volunteers by reducing the occurrence of harmful smoke inhalation through the evaluation and implementation of respiratory equipment options. Outcomes of the project will lead to recommendations to inform potential procurement of wildfire respiratory protection devices.

This project was informed by research on Wildfire Respiratory Protection Devices reported in 2021 and conducted in partnership with the Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning.[44]

In FY 2022-23, CFA initiated a Wildfire Respiratory Protection Trial, with governance oversight provided by the General Manager Infrastructure Services. The trial involved selected CFA participants testing wildfire respiratory protection devices in the field. CFA will collect survey results on device usability to inform respiratory device suitability and recommendations to inform potential procurement of wildfire respiratory protection devices.

FSIM notes that COVID-19 restrictions impacted the progress of this project, and the project continues to experience delays. CFA expects that this project will be completed by June 2024.

2. Wildfire Personal Protective Clothing Project

The Wildfire PPC project aims to update CFA’s current Wildfire PPC (introduced in 2002) with ergonomics and firefighter safety improvements. CFA aims to provide 24,000 sets of modern Wildfire PPC to CFA operational volunteers. Consultation occurred with volunteers and VFBV on the project, and included wearer trials involving 40 firefighters. All CFA districts received sizing sets to undertake CFA member Wildfire PPC sizing.

As at 30 June 2023, CFA has entered into a procurement contract for the manufacture and supply of Wildfire PPC. CFA anticipates that the project will be completed by June 2024.

3. Safety Compliance Program

The Safety Compliance Program aims to improve the health and safety of CFA firefighters by targeting three projects: Low Voltage Fuse Removal (LVFR), Safe Working at Heights (SWH), and Alternative Power Systems. CFA provided evidence confirming that they had collaborated with FRV to develop the LVFR and SWH projects. Additionally, FRV staff trainer and assessors were used to deliver SWH training at times.

The CFA Safety Compliance Steering Committee governs and provides oversight of the Safety Compliance Program. Based on progress reports provided, the delivery of the Safety Compliance Program has been significantly impacted by COVID-19 disruptions, particularly the LVFR and SWH projects. Additionally, evidence received demonstrated that multiple secondees with the knowledge and experience required to deliver the program have been reassigned. Consequently, this has delayed the delivery of the program.

Findings

FSIM finds action 4.3 is progressing and notes that the Safety Compliance Program is at risk of not meeting the Year Two to Five Plan completion date of June 2024.



Footnotes

[44] Fire Services Implementation Monitor, 2023, Fire Services Implementation Monitor Annual Report 2021/22, Victorian Government, viewed 8 August 2023, <https://www.vic.gov.au/fire-services-implementation-monitor-annual-report-2021-22>, pg. 77.

[45] Fire Services Implementation Monitor, 2023, Fire Services Implementation Monitor Annual Report 2021/22, Victorian Government, viewed 8 August 2023, <https://www.vic.gov.au/fire-services-implementation-monitor-annual-report-2021-22>, pg. 76.

Updated