Government of Victoria proposes shakeup of fire services

The Country Fire Authority would become totally volunteer.

Daniel Andrews, the Premier of the Australian state of Victoria, is proposing a major overhaul of the fire services organizations. If legislation to enact the changes is passed, the Country Fire Authority (CFA) will become a volunteer-only agency when its paid employees merge with what has been the Metropolitan Fire Brigade (MFB) to morph into the newly-created Fire Rescue Victoria.

The Premier said, “These challenges have been made clear through a number of reviews in recent years, including the 2009 Victorian Bushfires Royal Commission.”

The MFB provides firefighting, rescue, medical, and hazardous material incident response services to the metropolitan area of Melbourne. The CFA, which provides firefighting and emergency services to rural areas of Victoria, has been mostly volunteer, with about 35,000 volunteers and over 1,000 paid professionals.

The Premier intends to sweeten the deal by promising more than $100 million to support volunteer brigades with additional training, equipment and facilities.

In addition (and this is big) the government intends to recognize presumptive cancers that are diagnosed among volunteers.

Below is an excerpt from a summary of the proposed fire services reorganization:

This recognises the challenges that firefighters have faced in accessing compensation for cancer arising from their service. The scheme will deliver equal access to compensation for career and volunteer firefighters.

It will apply to firefighters who have developed cancer because of their service and have been diagnosed since 1 June 2016. Rules that require volunteer firefighters to have attended a specific number of fires are problematic, so the scheme will instead mirror the approach taken in Queensland, which has no specific incident requirements.

Skeptics think one of the reasons for the major revamping of the agencies is the hope that it “will end a controversial dispute with the United Firefighters Union, which has fought bitterly with the government, the CFA, the MFB and volunteers over new pay deals”, according to an article at 9news.com.au.

On International Women’s Day: firefighters in Australia

On International Women’s Day, March 8, take a look at this video from down under that highlights the role of women, especially firefighters, in Parks Victoria.

Time-lapse video of the Mt. Bolton bushfire

On February 23 we posted information about researchers in Victoria, Australia who are studying extreme fire weather using portable radar as part of the Bushfire Convective Plume Experiment (BCPE) associated with the University of Queensland in Australia.

Below is a time-lapse video they recorded at the Mt. Bolton bushfire.

Spot fires at the Mt. Bolton Fire in Victoria

Above: an Aircrane helicopter battles spot fires on a bushfire near Mt. Bolton in Victoria, Australia. Photo provided by the Country Fire Authority.

On Tuesday we had some photos and information about smoke plume research going on at the fire near Mt. Bolton in Victoria, Australia. The Country Fire Authority recently distributed this photo. There’s a lot going in that picture. It looks like that Aircrane has its hands full. I wonder if it was able to pick up that spot fire across the road, but the structures on the right side were probably a higher priority.

Later the CFA said the fire had been contained. A satellite photo of the fire’s location showed that it was in a hilly forested area surrounded by treeless pastures  and agriculture fields.

Using radar to study smoke plumes

The researchers below are studying extreme fire weather using portable radar. This is part of the Bushfire Convective Plume Experiment (BCPE) associated with the University of Queensland in Australia.

Smoke plume research
Smoke plume research

More information about the smoke plume research.

Victoria’s Country Fire Authority distributed the image below earlier on Tuesday (U.S. time) — the photo is from the Bolton Fire, the same one being studied by the researchers above:

It’s been a big day for our emergency management family! 400+ incidents, including over 50 grass and scrub fires, 300+…

Posted by CFA (Country Fire Authority) on Tuesday, February 23, 2016

The photos below are also from the Bolton Fire. The CFA is saying the fire is now contained. A satellite photo of the fire’s location showed a hilly forested area surrounded by treeless pastures and other agriculture.

Photos from the front line…These photos were taken at the Mount Bolton fire earlier today by Waubra Fire Brigade…

Posted by CFA (Country Fire Authority) on Monday, February 22, 2016