The Association is well aware of volunteers’ concerns in the training area and is active in representing those concerns to the Department. The Assocition’s Executive Committee recently met with the Department’s head of training, Assistant Commissioner Brad Stringer, Professional Development and Capability Command and Murray Bawden, Chief Superintendent Operations Command, Country North who is filling in for Brad Stringer whilst he is on leave.

We thank Brad Stringer and Murray Bawden for making themselves available and meeting the Association at the North Dandalup Volunteer Bushfire Brigade station to accommodate our volunteer Executive Members.

Topic’s covered throughout the discussion were what had been fed into the association by volunteers:

  • Why Department of Fire and Emergency Services was rejecting paper nominations for courses?
  • Attitude of some staff towards supporting volunteers and their training as well as not respecting local governments and bushfire brigades and their processes for managing their training.
  • The new requirements and online system being city centric and not respecting those who have little or no access to technology through no fault of their own.
  • Chainsaw operator’s courses and access based on local needs and not metro philosophy and the need to recognise the needs outside of metro area are different.
  • New Pathway being designed to suit the paid staff and not being conducive to the broader volunteer base.
  • Why there seems to be a move to make it more difficult for volunteers to train, less courses and lengthy processes to get onto courses and courses being cancelled?
  • Why are DFES profiles being forced to lock people in to a FRS style structure?
  • Risk to Resource process is supposed to be a Local Government process and one that is supposed to be based on local level needs.
  • Discussed the need for “Open source protocols” to be used which would enable more flexibility, innovation and potential cost savings.  The need to have a system that separated the “business” of the department away from the “operations” of the department and the other users like volunteers that need to access certain information and support.
  • How the new training system crashes and difficulties in logging on.
  • The need for the fire control officer’s course to be stand alone.
  • The need for the modules 1 to 12 training packages that were working well to be recognised and reinstated.
  • Discussed a training chart developed by Bushfire Volunteers which maps out the training profiles from farmer response through to Urban Offensive separating core and optional courses which would make it more flexible and Volunteer friendly.
  • Questioned why courses being run for volunteers are not nationally accredited, yet the old modules 1 to 12 were, and now Department of Fire and Emergency Services don’t recognise them anymore?
  • Raised concern about the perceived discrimination of training between Volunteers and the paid staff.
  • National competency and recognition of people’s nationally accredited courses.
  • Sequence of orders of courses and how some Department of Fire and Emergency Services regional staff are not being flexible to the needs of the volunteers because of state directives?
  • The pump operators course should be before the structural course.
  • ESL funding for Local Governments to enable them to do their training at their local level to national standards as it used to be.
  • ESL funding for in-cab air training and funding for replacement and training canisters.
  • ESL funding to support Local Governments with their training and records management systems.
  • The process was for Bush Fire Brigades who need BA training and how this is linked through the Risk to Resource process.
  • The extra burden on volunteers having to upgrade their training resource kits at their own expense when in the past they have been supplied through ESL.

We were pleased to hear from Assistant Commissioner Stringer that they now have a dedicated person to support and address issues as they arise in the future. The meeting was very positive, open and frank with further work to be done to progress all the issues and others as they arise in the future.

Pictured from the left are John Mangini, Brad Stringer, Dave Gossage, Phil Penny and Murray Bawden.

 

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