FAQ's

What is wrong with Victoria’s fire services?

Victoria’s fire services are outdated. The fire service boundaries have not changed significantly in 60 years.

Under this outdated system, 35 areas are wrongly zoned as ‘country’, despite being heavily urbanised and residential. Frankston, Cranbourne, Dandenong, Craigieburn, Melton, Springvale, Boronia and Geelong are just some of the 35 ‘country areas’.

These areas don’t get the fire service they need, which means people and properties are at risk. A rapid 8 minute response, with 7 professional firefighters on two fire trucks is the minimum standard needed in urban areas. Fire crews must respond in 8 minutes because after that, a fire reaches flashover – the point of ‘no return’.

Rapid response under 8 minutes is only guaranteed in the metropolitan fire district. In this zone, specially trained professional career firefighters are in fire stations that have been strategically located to be able to respond within 8 minutes.

The 35 urban areas zoned as ‘country’ are staffed by professional career firefighters and volunteers. Volunteers do a great job to assist but cannot be expected to be constantly on call or trained to the same standard as professional career firefighters. On many occasions, volunteers can’t respond to emergencies due to commitments like work and family, leading to blown out response times and under crewing - when not enough firefighters turn out after an emergency call.

This is an unacceptable risk to both our community and firefighters. Many official inquiries and reviews have pointed out these risks, and that the system needs to be updated.

What areas would change under the proposed reforms? 

Some areas that change under the proposed reform include:

Location

Residents

Households

Businesses

Motor vehicles

Ballarat City

12,413

4,760

2,687

10,441

Belmont

14,205

5,751

870

10,938

Bendigo

14,841

5,813

1,863

11,942

Boronia

26,523

9,605

1,820

20,757

Caroline Springs

31,083

8,068

1,509

19,646

Corio

26,671

9,771

883

18,462

Craigieburn

48,301

10,491

2,219

29,551

Cranbourne

21,688

6,544

1,140

17,715

Dandenong

30,575

8,938

5,642

27,165

Eltham

23,400

7,550

2,390

18,693

Frankston

23,400

7,550

2,390

18,693

Geelong City

12,819

5,100

3,054

11,627

Greenvale

14,245

3,474

1,318

12,103

Hallam

11,008

3,245

1,559

10,980

Hoppers Crossing

39,298

12,321

2,356

33,951

Melton

19,977

6,293

1,152

15,826

Mildura

32,969

11,848

2,861

27,652

Mornington

24,327

8,945

2,391

20,388

Morwell

13,981

5,713

817

12,573

Ocean Grove

21,117

6,611

1,699

17,023

Pakenham

45,244

11,773

2,312

32,942

Patterson River

11,695

4,383

1,041

9,208

Point Cook

47,201

10,171

2,815

29,803

Portland

10,744

4,225

756

10,101

Rosebud

20,997

8,287

1,345

17,845

Rowville

15,272

4,894

1,124

11,932

Shepparton

41,633

13,810

3,942

37,059

South Morang

59,314

12,070

2,552

39,551

South Warrandyte

 

10,370

3,069

1,419

9,114

Springvale

21,918

6,488

1,988

14,396

Sunbury

13,210

4,063

773

10,748

Traralgon

26,835

9,739

1,781

24,449

Wangaratta

18,158

7,174

1,629

16,222

Warnambool

33,979

12,131

2,814

29,143

Wodonga

23,410

7,832

1,952

21,443

 

Why is an 8 minute response critical for safety?

An 8 minute response time and 7 professional firefighters on two fire trucks is the minimum standard needed for emergency response. Fire crews must respond in 8 minutes because after that, a fire reaches the flashover point – the point of “no return” where the property and people inside are at risk.

Rapid response under 8 minutes is only guaranteed in the metropolitan fire district. In this zone, specially trained professional career firefighters are in fire stations that have been strategically located to be able to respond within 8 minutes.

What are the government’s proposed reforms?

The government is proposing to establish Fire Rescue Victoria, which would employ all MFB and career staff, and lead firefighting in major regional cities and Melbourne.

The CFA would become a volunteer only firefighting service.

At the 35 integrated stations, professional firefighters would co-locate with CFA volunteers.

There will be no change to volunteer firefighters or their response as a result of the fire services reform.

An independent Fire District Review Panel would be established to review the boundaries between fire services in the future, based on:

  • population growth
  • urban development
  • the volume of Triple 000 calls

The reforms would drive cultural change, with targets to quadruple the number of career female firefighters over four years, and increase women in CFA brigade leadership roles.

A new Emergency Services Infrastructure Authority would be established, which would deliver a new $44 million station building program, working with the CFA.

An Operational Implementation Committee would roll out the reforms.

Fire and rescue services would continue as normal.

Will this change displace volunteer firefighters?

No.

The CFA would become a volunteer only firefighting service - the role of volunteers would be further enshrined under law.

A $56.2 million CFA Support fund would provide for improved training, increased brigade support, and improved health and safety.

A new Emergency Services Infrastructure Authority would be established to ensure Victoria’s emergency services have the best equipment and facilities. It would work with the CFA to deliver a new $44 million station building program.

The government will provide support for volunteers at the above 35 fire  stations, where career firefighters’s employment will transfer to Fire Rescue Victoria but remain co-located with CFA volunteers at these fire stations. 

 

Is this a ‘CFA takeover’?

No.

Under the proposed changes, the CFA would become a volunteer only firefighting service - the role of volunteers would be further enshrined under law. This will unify the CFA and restore it to it’s original purpose, as being a volunteer only service.

Will this change mean volunteers can’t go to fires anymore?

 No.

CFA volunteer brigades will continue to service their communities and provide vital surge capacity in times of emergencies.

At the 35 integrated stations, CFA volunteers would co-locate with professional career firefighters.

Will this change affect surge capacity?

No.

The proposed changes will not impact volunteer firefighters.

CFA volunteer brigades will continue to service their communities and provide vital surge capacity in times of emergencies.