Fire Services Reform
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Fire Services Reform


On May 19 the State Government announced a significant reform to the way fire services are delivered in Victoria.

For answers to 'Frequently Asked Questions' click here.

For answers to questions on Presumptive Rights Legislation click here.

A key component of the reform will be the establishment of new organisation called Fire Rescue Victoria (FRV) to service metropolitan Melbourne and major regional centres.

FRV will bring together MFB and CFA career firefighters from our 35 integrated stations to service areas currently being covered by integrated stations.

This means CFA career firefighters and some support staff will transition to FRV. CFA will provide comprehensive support to this group of staff. There will be no job losses or redundancies for career firefighters and staff.

The government has also announced a $100 million package comprised of:

  • Establishing a $56.2 million CFA Support Fund to strengthen volunteer recruitment, retention and training options, expand brigade support and develop leadership and
  • Creating an Emergency Services Infrastructure Authority, which will co-ordinate and deliver new facilities including a $44 million CFA station program.

These reforms will deliver better training, brigade support and equipment for volunteers across Victoria.

Importantly, the government will also introduce new laws to give all firefighters equal access to compensation for cancers contracted in the line of duty. This means all firefighters will have greater certainty in being able to access compensation benefits for specified cancers.

Read the full Fire Services Statement - pdf 3MB

What does this mean for volunteers?

  • CFA's 1,220 volunteer brigades will continue to serve and protect their communities just as they always have.
  • CFA volunteer brigades will continue to operate under the leadership of CFA’s Chief Officer.
  • Volunteers will remain integral to Victoria’s response to fires and other emergencies, particularly in campaign and surge events.
  • Individual brigades will continue to have assignment areas. In areas where FRV will be designated as the first responders, volunteer surge capacity and back-up responses will be preserved.
  • Tailored support will be provided for volunteers at the 35 integrated stations where career firefighters will transfer to FRV.
  • We will work with volunteers in the 35 integrated stations to identify the best solution for each volunteer and each brigade.

It’s important to reiterate that this package will protect surge capacity, and it is designed to deliver better service throughout Victoria.

Read CFA's fact sheet on the reform - pdf 215k

CFA poster for volunteer brigades - pdf 2mb

Got a question?

If you have any questions you can contact our dedicated information line for CFA staff and volunteers by calling 1300 339 558.

Alternatively, questions or comments can be submitted via email to fireservicesreform@cfa.vic.gov.au.

You can visit the Fire Services Victoria website for more information including FAQ's or submit comments on the website.

Member support

CFA has a range of support services and resources available including:

  • Peer Support Program - trained members offering support & guidance - contact your local Peer Coordinator (requires login, CFA Members only)
  • Member Assistance Program - a 24-hour confidential and external counselling service - 1300 795 711
  • Chaplaincy - 1800 337 068
  • Manager Assist - confidential coaching, support and advice for managers - 1300 795 711

These services are confidential, free of charge and available to all CFA members and their immediate families.

Frequently Asked Questions:

We will update these questions as more information becomes known.

1. How will this change affect CFA volunteers?

Volunteers at CFA's 1,220 volunteer brigades will continue to serve their local communities and provide vital surge support. 

2. Will CFA volunteer firefighters continue to wear CFA uniforms?

Yes.

3. Will CFA volunteers continue to come under the command of the CFA Chief Officer?

Yes.

4. Is there additional money for CFA in this package?

Yes. A $56.2 million CFA Support Fund is part of the package for improved training, increased brigade support and improved health, safety and wellbeing. As well as this, 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.

5. Will there be any loss of jobs?

No. Our firefighters, be they career or volunteers, along with supporting staff, are critical to keeping the Victorian community safe. All existing MFB and CFA career firefighters will transition into Fire Rescue Victoria and 450 new firefighters are being recruited. Some support and corporate staff will transfer to Fire Rescue Victoria while some will move to deliver projects at the infrastructure authority. The amount of assistance for volunteers at CFA will be increased, with more training, administration and brigade support staff.

6. How will these changes affect fire trucks attending an emergency?

The work of career and volunteer firefighters will continue on the ground to ensure community safety. FRV, CFA and all of Victoria’s emergency services will work together to respond to emergencies. The changes in the Fire Services Statement will ensure that Victorians receive a world class fire service no matter where they live.

7. What happens to CFA volunteers at the 35 integrated stations?

Tailored support will be provided for volunteers at the 35 integrated stations where career firefighters will transfer to Fire Rescue Victoria. The Government and CFA will work with volunteers in the 35 integrated stations to identify the best solution of each volunteer and each brigade.

8. Who runs the fire ground – in Fire Rescue Victoria areas and/or in CFA areas? Will career staff answer to volunteers?

Control agency arrangements will not change. The first arriving officer becomes the Incident Controller, and any changes to this are in accordance with the operating procedures on transfer of control that apply across all of our emergency services.

9. Will Fire Rescue Victoria (FRV) firefighters who are seconded to the CFA report to the Chief Officer and wear CFA uniforms?

Yes.

10. Will presumptive rights be available to all firefighters?

The presumptive rights compensation scheme will cover all Victorian career and volunteer firefighters.

11. How can I become a CFA volunteer?

The CFA will continue to encourage and welcome new volunteers, because we want to strengthen the CFA. People interested in becoming a volunteer firefighter with the CFA should visit their local brigade, or go online to www.cfa.vic.gov.au for further details.

Presumptive Rights Legislation.

1. What is presumptive rights compensation legislation?

Under the presumptive rights compensation scheme, a firefighter claiming compensation for certain cancers doesn’t have to prove that firefighting is the cause of their cancer. Instead it will be presumed that they contracted cancer because of their firefighting service and that they therefore have an entitlement to compensation under the WorkSafe scheme.
Firefighters that are diagnosed with one of 12 specified cancers and have served the requisite number of years (5-25 depending on cancer type) have a presumptive entitlement to compensation, unless WorkSafe can prove that the cancer did not arise from firefighting.
The introduction of presumptive rights legislation fulfils the Government’s election commitment to provide Victorian firefighters with greater certainty of their presumptive entitlement to compensation for specified forms of cancer.

2. What cancer types are covered under the presumptive rights compensation legislation?

The cancer types that are presumed to have arisen from firefighting, and the applicable qualifying period, are specified in the table below:

Disease Qualifying period
1. Primary site brain cancer 5 years
2. Primary site bladder cancer 15 years
3. Primary site kidney cancer 15 years
4. Primary non-Hodgkins lymphoma 15 years
5. Primary leukaemia 5 years
6. Primary site breast cancer 10 years
7. Primary site testicular cancer 10 years
8. Multiple myeloma 15 years
9. Primary site prostate cancer 15 years
10. Primary site ureter cancer 15 years
11. Primary site colorectal cancer 15 years
12. Primary site oesophageal cancer 25 years


3. What are the preconditions under the presumptive rights compensation legislation?

Under the presumptive rights compensation scheme, a firefighter claiming compensation for certain cancers doesn’t have to prove that firefighting is the cause of their cancer. Instead it will be presumed that they contracted cancer because of their firefighting service and that they therefore have an entitlement to compensation under the WorkSafe scheme.
Under the scheme the following criteria must be met:
· diagnosis on or after 1 June 2016;
· while the firefighter is serving or within 10 years after they last served as a firefighter;
· service as a firefighter for at least the minimum listed number of years for the cancer in question; and
· for volunteer firefighters, attendance at fires to the extent reasonably necessary to fulfil their duties as a firefighter.

The legislation establishes an advisory committee that provide an expert opinion to WorkSafe as to whether a volunteer firefighter has attended fires to the extent reasonably necessary to fulfil their duties as a firefighter.

4. As a volunteer firefighter how will the advisory committee determine if I have attended fires to the extent reasonably necessary to access presumptive rights compensation?

The advisory committee is there to ensure deserving volunteer firefighters do not miss out on the presumptive right to compensation. It will consider any relevant records, brigade records, CFA data, employer data and local knowledge, and any other relevant matters prescribed under regulations.

5. What if I do not reach the relevant qualifying period?

If you have not been a firefighter for the relevant qualifying period you may still be entitled to compensation under the legislation’s “special consideration” provisions if you can prove that you have personally had an exceptional exposure event in a firefighting capacity.
For the purposes of determining whether a firefighter has had an exceptional exposure event the following matters are to be considered:
the nature of event e.g. Prolonged period / exposure, single event;
relevant findings regarding the event from a coroner, court proceedings or other official inquiry regarding an event known to have exposed firefighters to carcinogens; and
any relevant records, brigade records, CFA data, employer data or local knowledge, and any other relevant matters prescribed under regulations.
In all applications for special consideration WorkSafe must seek advice from the advisory committee as to whether a firefighter has had an exceptional exposure event but is not required to make a determination consistent with that advice.

6. What if I cannot demonstrate I have had an exceptional exposure event?

If you cannot demonstrate that you have had an exceptional exposure event that does not mean you cannot access compensation. It means that your cancer will not be presumed to have arisen from your service as a firefighter. If this is the case, your claim will be assessed under the Firefighter Assessment Panel.
The Firefighter Assessment Panel is a process managed by WorkSafe with the support of CFA and comprises expert medical, technical and claims specialists to ensure prompt, compassionate and fair assessments for all firefighter cancer-related claims.

7. What if I have served as both a volunteer and career firefighter?

If you have served as both a career and volunteer firefighter your service can be combined to reach the qualifying period for the specified cancer type.
If you are both a career and volunteer firefighter concurrently, your service can only be counted once.

8. What if I have had a break in my firefighting service?

If you have had a break in your firefighting service, you are able to combine your periods of service to reach the qualifying period. Your periods of service do not need to be consecutive as multiple periods of service may be combined.

9. I am a volunteer firefighter, do I have access to presumptive rights compensation?

Yes. The Victorian Government has provided access to presumptive rights compensation for both volunteer and career firefighters.

10. I am a volunteer firefighter. Can I lodge a claim in respect of the same injury under both WorkCover (WIRC Act) and the Volunteer Compensation Scheme (CFA Regulations)?

No. You cannot lodge a claim with both WorkSafe and the Volunteer Compensation Scheme in respect of the same injury at the same time.
If your claim is rejected under either scheme, that does not prevent you from lodging it with the alternate compensation scheme. For example, if your presumptive entitlement claim is rejected by WorkSafe you may still make a claim for compensation under the Volunteer Compensation Scheme in respect of the same injury.
However, you will not be able to apply under the Volunteer Compensation Scheme if the WorkCover Authority has rebutted your presumptive entitlement, by proving that your cancer was not due to the nature of your service as a firefighter. Therefore, if the cancer is not service related you will not have an entitlement under the Volunteer Compensation Scheme.

11. What if I have a cancer that is not listed in the presumptive rights compensation legislation table?

If you have a cancer that is not listed in the table of presumed cancers you are still able to lodge a claim for compensation. Your injury will not be presumed to have arisen from your firefighting service. In these cases your claim will be assessed under the Firefighter Assessment Panel.
The Firefighters Assessment Panel is a process managed by WorkSafe with the support of CFA and comprises expert medical, technical and claims specialists to ensure prompt, compassionate and fair assessments for all firefighter cancer-related claims.

12. Is there a time limit on retired firefighters making a presumptive rights compensation claim?

Yes. If you are no longer a firefighter and you believe your cancer arose from your firefighting service you are entitled to make a claim for compensation within 10 years after you last served as a firefighter.

CFA Chief Officer Steve Warrington's video messages





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