Emergency Response Times

Quarter 2 (2020/21) - 01 October to 31 December 2020



Key Findings

  • 81.9% overall compliance with Community Service Delivery Standards (statewide), comparative with quarter 2 2019/20 which was 87%.
  • 3,318 emergency incidents, which is approximately a 53% decrease compared to 7,016* emergency incidents in quarter 2 2019/20. 
  • There were fewer emergency incidents in Q2 2020-21 compared to Q2 2019-20 due to the transition of CFA integrated and career-only response area to FRV on 1 July 2020, the quieter 2020-21 summer fire season (988 grass and scrub fires in Q2 20-21 compared to 1,738 in Q2 19-20) and travel not yet having returned to pre-pandemic levels despite the easing of COVID-19 restrictions.
  • 1 person tragically lost their life in residential fire during quarter 2. While focus was placed on bushfire safety during the summer fire season, this is an important reminder to our community to review their home fire safety behaviour all year round.
  • Incidents that occurred outside of CFA’s brigade areas (i.e. National Parks) are not included in these reports. CFA do not measure response to bushfires in the same way that we measure response to emergency incidents.

*The 7.016 incidents in Q2 2019/2020 includes the 38 brigade areas that transitioned to FRV on 1 July 2020.



Maps of Emergency Response Times   Tables of Emergency Response Times



CFA Service Delivery

CFA delivers services to the community through a network of over 55,000 volunteers operating out of more than 1,200 rural and urban brigades across Victoria. CFA also employs around 1,000 Professional, Technical and Administrative staff to support service delivery.

CFA uses its network of brigades to respond to emergency events, including structure fires, bush and grass fires, road crashes and vehicle fires. CFA brigades also respond alongside Fire Rescue Victoria and other emergency service organisations.


What is Response Time data?

Response time is measured from when the brigade is alerted to an event to when the first brigade vehicle arrives on scene. Response times are influenced by many factors, including traffic and road conditions, weather, and the current demand for our services (fire brigade availability).

The diagram below shows the response timeframe for CFA responding to an emergency event.

fire intervention timeline

Download a PDF copy of the intervention timeline (PDF 361KB)


What is a Brigade Area?

Each brigade has a defined Brigade Area, which specifies the operational footprint of the brigade. Brigades respond to emergency events within their own Brigade Area, and support into neighbouring Brigade Areas. 

What is Hazard Class and a Service Delivery Standard (SDS)?

Hazard Class defines the type of risk for a given area. Each Brigade Area may contain multiple hazard classes.

The SDS is a predefined response time target for brigades responding to an emergency event. Each Hazard Class has a different SDS.

Hazard Class 2 (Medium Urban) = 8 minute SDS

Significant urban areas which are primarily residential including commercial centres, clusters of industrial and/or high density community services e.g. schools, correctional facilities, hospitals.

Hazard Class 3 (Low Urban) = 10 minute SDS

All urban areas that are not included in Hazard Class 2 and includes predominantly residential occupancies and small industries.

Hazard Class 4 (Rural) = 20 minute SDS

Primarily involves natural surroundings in terms of bush and grassland, but also involves isolated dwellings and structures within those areas.

Hazard Class 5 covers very remote locations and very isolated dwellings. There is no SDS for this hazard class.

The SDS is applied to emergency events, such as building fires, grass and shrub fires, hazardous material spills and leaks, motor vehicle collisions, and fire alarms that require an emergency response (where CFA vehicles travel with lights and sirens).

CFA responds to a range of non-emergency events as part of its service to the community. These are events where there is no risk to life or property, and do not require an emergency response. The SDS is not applied to these events.


How does CFA respond to an emergency event?

When a community member calls 000, CFA is one of several different emergency service organisations that may be dispatched to help. For emergency events requiring CFA, the 000 call-taker will look at the location of the incident and dispatch nearby brigades. Usually, two brigades will be dispatched to provide immediate assistance, with further brigades being dispatched as required for more complex events.

The image below shows the response model used by CFA. Brigades work together to provide an optimal service to the community. This means that sometimes the brigade that is dispatched first or arrives first to an emergency event is from a neighbouring brigade area.

CFA measures emergency response time performance in two ways:

  1. CFA measures the response time of a brigade dispatched to an event within its own Brigade Area (Brigade Area response); and
  2. CFA measures the response time that the community experienced, whether it was from a Brigade within its own Brigade Area or a Brigade responding from a neighbouring Brigade Area (Community response).

A brigade dispatched in their own Brigade Area can meet the SDS for an event. Alternatively, a brigade dispatched from a neighbouring area can meet the SDS for an event. 

How does CFA manage its emergency response time data?

Response time data is collected through the Fire & Incident Reporting System (FIRS) for all events that CFA responds to.

At the completion of an event, firefighters complete a fire report using FIRS. Most brigades use the FIRS call centre to complete their reports over the phone with the assistance of a FIRS call-taker.

Each FIRS report contains the location of the event, the response time for each fire truck responding to the event and other information, including details of any injuries from the event, the magnitude of property damage and ignition factors for fire events. This information is used by CFA to calculate response times and percentage compliance with response time targets, as well as increasing our understanding of causes and impacts of emergency events to improve service delivery for the safety of the Victorian community.

CFA employs several methods to review and enhance the quality of FIRS reports. Operations Officers are responsible for ensuring that brigades complete FIRS reports accurately and within the mandated time period of one month from the date of the event. FIRS call-takers also provide some validation of data at the time of input. A team of dedicated data analysts operate to review and validate data as required.

Brigades are provided with their performance against the Service Delivery Standards each year as an aggregated figure across Hazard Classes. Brigades can request more regular performance updates from their Operations Officer.


Why is my brigade area not listed?

If a Brigade Area had less than 10 emergency events in the reporting period, the Brigade Area will not be included in the report.

Calculating the SDS performance for Brigade Areas with low volumes of emergency events will not provide a statistically significant indication of service delivery performance.


What is CFA doing to improve emergency response time performance?

CFA is committed to an ongoing performance improvement program which aims to improve the quality of services delivered to the community. The program includes an annual inspection of brigades by Operations Officers to identify risks, issues and vulnerabilities that may impact on a brigade’s capability and capacity.

Outcomes of the inspections are used to develop internal support arrangements that assist brigades to address areas of concern. Support may include increased and tailored training programs, targeted recruitment, reallocation and replacement of equipment, redevelopment or relocation of fire stations or integration of career staff into the brigade.

Regions, District and brigades work together to develop strategies that support service delivery to the local community today and into the future.



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Maps of Emergency Response Times


Tables of Emergency Response Times



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Page last updated:  Monday, 30 August 2021 9:43:15 AM