The CFA will be a volunteer-only firefighting service and the role of volunteers further enshrined under law, while a new organisation, Fire Rescue Victoria, will be established to fight fires in Melbourne and major regional centres, in much-needed and overdue reforms to the state’s fire services that will keep Victorians safe.
Victoria has some of the best firefighters in the world, but they currently operate under systems and structures that have not changed since the 1950s.
In just the last decade, eight reviews have been undertaken into Victoria’s fire services, including the Victorian Bushfires Royal Commission. They have made it clear that the state’s services are in need of modernisation.
The Labor Government’s changes, outlined as part of the Fire Services Statement, will respond to these issues, and ensure Victorians can rely on modern and local fire services to keep them safe, regardless of where they live.
Under the reforms, the CFA will be further protected under law as a volunteer service and our 1,220 CFA brigades will continue to serve their communities as they have always done, as well as providing vital surge capacity during major emergencies.
Importantly, CFA volunteers currently serving at one of the state’s 35 integrated stations will be able to remain at that station, co-locating with Fire Rescue Victoria services.
Additionally, the Labor Government will make sure CFA volunteers have the equipment and support they need, with a dedicated $56.2 million CFA Support Fund to strengthen volunteer recruitment, training, brigade support and leadership.
The new Fire Rescue Victoria will be established to fight fires in major regional cities and Melbourne, bringing together the MFB and career staff from the state’s 35 integrated CFA stations, including the 450 extra career firefighters currently being delivered.
Fire Rescue Victoria will be based on other successful police and emergency services organisations, including the model in New South Wales, and be led by its own Commissioner.
Consistent with Recommendation 63 of the Victorian Bushfires Royal Commission, an independent Fire District Review Panel will also be established. The Panel will conduct future reviews of the boundary between fire services, based on population growth, urban development and the volume of Triple 000 calls.
Victoria’s emergency services will also have the very best facilities and equipment, with the establishment of a new Emergency Services Infrastructure Authority. One of the first tasks for the new authority will be to work with the CFA on delivering a new $44 million station building program.
The reforms include driving cultural change, including an ambitious target to quadruple the number of career female firefighters in our fire services from 100 to 400, within four years. We will also increase the number of women in CFA brigade leadership roles from 265 to 909 over the same period.
To roll out these reforms, an Operational Implementation Committee will be established and chaired by Mr Greg Mullins AFSM, former Commissioner of Fire and Rescue NSW.
Fire and rescue services will continue as normal, and the amount collected through the Fire Services Property Levy will not change over the next two years while the reforms are implemented.
Quotes attributable to Premier Daniel Andrews
“We’ve had eight reviews in the past ten years. All of them have reached the same conclusion – the current fire services structure isn’t working.”
“We are taking action to protect CFA volunteers, modernise our fire services and most importantly – keep Victorians safe, wherever they live.”
Quotes attributable to Deputy Premier and Minister for Emergency Services James Merlino
“We’ll enshrine the CFA as a volunteer firefighting service under law and unite our career firefighters under one organisation.”
“We will also drive cultural change – with real and ambitious targets to increase the number of female firefighters in our fire services, particularly in leadership roles.”