Chairman's report

Dear Minister

As a volunteer and community based fire and emergency services organisation, CFA responds to fire and other emergencies 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Our members, volunteer and paid, are leaders in Victorian communities and dedicated to protecting lives and property.

With more than 60,000 members, including 58,000 volunteers along with career firefighters, community educators and support personnel, CFA serves approximately 3.3 million Victorians, protecting more than one million dwellings. Our people are trained and professional, working in often challenging and difficult conditions alongside our partner agencies.

In the past decade we’ve seen increasing demand for our services in the outer metropolitan and country areas of Victoria, across an ever widening range of situations.

We deliver statewide services in many operational forms. Beyond day-to-day firefighting, we see CFA in rescue situations and, most recently, in flood waters. While the summer fire season of 2010-2011 did not fully test our firefighting resources, it saw our members respond with the same dedication to a different kind of threat – the worst floods in Victorian history.

As Victoria grows, so too do community expectations of the services we provide. It is vital that we keep adapting to our changing environment. More than two years on, we continue to learn the lessons of the 2009 Victorian bushfires, implementing the wide-ranging recommendations of the Victorian Bushfires Royal Commission. We have better systems and stronger partnerships in place than ever before and we will keep changing and improving to better protect our communities.

The appointment of Chief Officer Euan Ferguson in 2010 consolidated a renewed focus on supporting our front line people, those who deliver services to Victorian communities, whether it be fighting fires or educating and warning communities. Our brigades, in more than 1,200 communities across Victoria and overwhelmingly resourced by volunteers, are the cornerstone of CFA service delivery.

One of the early acts of the new State Government, elected in November 2010, was to enshrine in legislation the Volunteer Charter, confirming a commitment to volunteers. CFA looks forward to working with the Government in implementing recommendations of the Independent Inquiry into the Effect of Arrangements on CFA Volunteers, designed to better support volunteerism in CFA.

On behalf of the CFA Board, I want to thank CFA members and their families across Victoria for their dedicated commitment to their communities.

As a fire service we could be described in many ways: by the number of brigades and fire stations we have or the number of fire appliances. But our most defining characteristic has always been, and always will be, our people. The expression ‘One CFA’ echoes the view of many members that CFA is a family with all the strengths and challenges that such consolidation brings.

Kerry A Murphy PSM AFSM