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Shire of Murray to host Bushfire Centre of Excellence

By | News

Honourable Fran Logan MLA, Minister for Emergency Services and FES Commissioner Darren Klemm AFSM have announced that the Bushfire Centre of Excellence is to be based in Pinjarra.

The Bushfire Centre of Excellence will provide a purpose-built facility and a committed team of staff, focused specifically on the enhancement of bushfire management across our State.

The establishment of the centre is about bringing key stakeholders together to improve bushfire management outcomes through collaboration and innovation.

A key priority will be improved access to training, with flexible delivery models. This will be achieved by working to upskill current trainers and assessors in regional areas so that they can deliver courses locally; in a format that suits local needs.

Technology such as virtual reality, online learning and digital simulations will also be utilised to improve access to training, knowledge and resources.

Another area of focus will be knowledge management; looking at things like lessons learned and Traditional fire knowledge and practice, and how they can inform best practice in bushfire management.

The design of the building is expected to be finalised in the coming months, and is planned to include outdoor training spaces, a storage area for training tools and equipment, training rooms and office space.

It will also include areas for exercising incident management teams and incident control centre personnel, enhancing our existing capability by providing practical, ‘real-life’ training.

Next steps will include the design and construction of the facility, developing a digital presence and recruiting the Bushfire Centre of Excellence’s staff.

Victorian Fires in the Media – No Apologies for the Long Story

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There has been a great deal of criticism of our colleagues in Victoria in both main stream and social media as the fires in large parts of that state have devastated communities.  It is difficult for people who are not members of a firefighting service to know just how personally firefighters (both volunteer and career) take the loss of a single building – and how hard they will work to ensure this doesn’t happen.

There are currently two posts on Facebook that show a different side to these stories.  The first is by a volunteer firefighter and also has photos from the Bunyip fire, showing houses that were saved from the flames – you can hear his frustration in almost every line.  This is his post (in his words):

“Just back from the Bunyip fire in the Tonimbuk Sector of the fire.  It is unlikely you will see these homes in the papers or on the news.  For some reason the media prefers to show the small number of buildings lost to the fire.  However homes such as the ones shown here are well and truely in the majority on the fireground at Bunyip.  Some have been defended by vollunteers and staff of the CFA.  Some had MFESB or Forest Fire Managment staff protecting them.  A few, were guarded by home owners who fought hard to save their own property.

It is likely some were saved by a well placed drop from a firefighting helicopter.  Many are probably still standing due to sheer luck.  Most though are still intact due to a combination of all of the above..

All of these buildings below have one thing in common, the property owners had spent time to prepare for the potential of bush fire.  Cleaning up, cutting back vegetation, clearing gutters of debris, watering the surrounding gardens to create a safe zone, ensuring driveways are accessable to fire trucks and having dedicated fire fighting water supplies on site.

The fire services have copped some bad press in the last few days, accused of not trying to save some homes.

I’ll be blunt, if you don’t attempt to prepare your property for the event of bushfire and allow years of overgrowth to build up making it unsafe for crews to defend, don’t expect a fire crew to chose to turn up your drive and fight to save your home and their own lives.

Feel free to share as the owners may not yet know that their home is still intact.

The second is from a female firefighter who has obviously reached her limits – it is a sobering and at times emotional read:


Let me tell you…. Help was working all day Friday and on the way home dropped their child off to family members to get on a truck and respond to save yours. Help was on the fire ground at 1700 on Friday and home 2200 on Monday night. Help was surround by fire, feeling the intense heat while everyone escaped. Help was holding a lady as she was screaming because fire was everywhere and she couldn’t reach her husband. Help was fighting fires while so stressed as her team mates where surrounded by fire with no escape and she couldn’t contact them by radio. Help was stopping and collecting pets that had been hurt and burnt and finding them help while still trying to protect your property. Help was trying not to cry as she listen to the radio to a tree falling on a truck not knowing if anyone was hurt..

Help was being screamed at by people for not being at their house when she was evacuating an elderly couple who had no means of transport to escape because in your eyes help should of been in 10 places at once.. While help was protecting your property, saving your animals, not eating or sleeping, listening to her friends being trapped while trying to help, keeping track of nearly 100 firefighters, not having a toilet to use, growing blisters on her feet, cuts on her legs, bitten by bugs and burnt by fire, and not being paid a single cent to risk her life, Helps family and friends were at home praying she was safe and will return to them.

So again where was your help- I was out there trying my hardest. #cfa #volunteers #firefighters”

2019 WA Fire and Emergency Services Conference

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The 2019 WAFES Conference will be held from Friday 6th to Sunday 8th September at the Perth Convention and Exhibition Centre.  This year’s theme is “Facing the Future Together”.

As usual, the VFRS will have 150 places available to our members – whilst registrations are not yet open, please give some thought as to who you would like to send.  Each Brigade will be offered two places initially (yes, we know that adds up to more than 150…) and a “waiting” list will be kept for those additional members who may be interested.

We are hoping to run specific sessions for Captains / Lieutenants / Apps Officers on their responsibilities under the Act, Regulations and DFES Operational Procedures, as well as another session for Brigade Secretaries on administration at Brigade level.  This is a great opportunity for Brigade Secretaries to meet one another and set up a network of help across WA.

Further information will be provided to Brigades as it comes available.

EO Jodie Neuzerling is out and about

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Executive Officer Jodie Neuzerling has been on the road and in the air, conducting Brigade visits in the early part of the new year; as well as attending Zone meetings.

Thanks to Carnarvon VFRS (although admittedly, the visit was in December 😊), Mullewa VFRS, Esperance VFRS and Roleystone VFRS for the invitations to visit.

She also attended the Great Southern Zone meeting at Wagin on 23rd February and the Central Wheatbelt Zone meeting held at York on Sunday 24th February.  These are an important part of the Association as it gives Brigade Captains / Secretaries a chance to meet one another and discuss issues that are affecting them and their members – it is amazing how knowing you’re not the only ones experiencing a particular issue can help you work your way through it (especially if another Brigade has already worked out a solution).

If your Brigade would like a visit from the Association Executive to provide an update on issues currently being discussed on your behalf, please contact EO Neuzerling via executive@frsvols.asn.au

State Open Championships in Esperance – A Great Success

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Well, another State Open has been run and won – huge thanks and congratulations to Esperance VFRS for a well run Championship (especially Brian Willoughby and Harry Moir) and to Southern Ports for their sponsorship of this year’s event.  Thanks also to the Minister for Emergency Services, the Honourable Fran Logan MLA, FES Commissioner Darren Klemm AFSM and local MP Peter Rundle (National Party and Member for Roe) for dropping in and helping to present a few trophies. The competitors appreciated you all taking the time to visit our Championships.

Summary of Results:

Champion Open Brigade                     Bassendean
Champion Firefighter                          Marc Papalia – Bassendean

This is only the second time in the Championship’s history (commenced 1981) that one competitor has produced a clean sweep of all five individual events. It was also Marc’s seventh Champion Firefighter title at the State Open and he is now our most successful Champion Firefighter for these Championships.

Champion C Class Brigade                   Mandurah (27 points) from Esperance (25 points)
Champion C Class Firefighter              Harrison Gardiner – Bassendean
Champion Female Firefighter             TK Kippin – Coolgardie

Full results have been emailed to all Brigades.

Reminder to everybody that nomination forms for the 2019 “Easter” Championships are DUE NOW.

Thank You to Our Firefighters!

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A/Deputy Commissioner Gary Gifford ESM has asked the Association to pass on his thanks to all of our members who have been involved in fighting the large scale incidents at Lewana, Widgiemooltha, Esperance, Bullsbrook and Bindoon (just to name some) over the past few weeks.

He praised the courage, commitment and character of our members – who would disagree – and also their hard work and dedication to duty.

The Honourable Fran Logan MLA, Minister for Emergency Services and FES Commissioner Darren Klemm AFSM also thanked our members when they dropped in to our State Open Championships that were (somewhat inconveniently) being held on the Labour Day long weekend in Esperance.

Well done to all involved – whether they be from the VFRS, CFRS, Parks and Wildlife, BFS or SES (not to mention the landowners who also fought alongside them).

Mount Magnet VFRS Celebrates New Track!

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Mount Magnet VFRS celebrated the opening of their resurfaced and re-engineered track with an inter-Brigade challenge with Geraldton VFRS on Saturday 23rd February 2019.  The official ribbon was cut by a senior Championship Four running with a combination of both older and newer members.

The project was funded by a combination of monies from the Ramelius Resources Development Fund, Royalties for Regions, MidWest Development Commissioner Community Chest Fund, Shire of Mount Magnet, MTF Services and Mount Magnet VFRS.

With more than 25 competitors and 100 people in attendance, the evening went very well and has been hailed a success by all – the Mount Magnet competitors are absolutely thrilled with their new track and think it’s just gorgeous.

Photo shows members of both the Geraldton and Mount Magnet Junior/Sub-Junior teams with the Honourable Vince Catania MLA, Member for the North West Central Region.

Well done to all concerned!

The end of an era in Western Australian firefighting and the Fire and Rescue Service

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Lloyd Bailey is an outstanding man who made a significant contribution to the safety of our State – particularly with his involvement in the creation of WA’s Urban Search and Rescue (USAR).

Congratulations on your career and thank you for more than 44 years serving the WA community. Thanks also to Lloyd’s wife Karen Bailey, daughter Kerry Bailey and son Michael Bailey for sharing him with us. Enjoy your retirement!

AFSM for Francis Burgoyne

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Congratulations to former Association President Francis Burgoyne on being awarded the Australian Fire Service Medal (AFSM) in the 2019 Australia Day Honours List.

Mr Burgoyne joined the Brunswick Junction Volunteer Fire Brigade, now the Brunswick Junction Volunteer Fire and Rescue Service (BJVFRS), in1977. Since that time he has championed the volunteering cause in the fire and rescue services and is greatly respected by his peers locally and throughout the State.

As well as being an active firefighter for 39 years he has also served as Captain of the Brunswick Junction VFRS from 1998-2002 and again since 2012. In addition to the Captaincy he has held many positions within the brigade including as Lieutenant, Apparatus Officer and Coach of the junior and senior competition teams. From 2005-2009 he served as President of the WAVFRS Association.

As South West Zone Representative for the WAVFRS Association he worked collaboratively with the 20 Brigades in the zone to bring about local change to fire service operations and to raise operational and administrative issues with the State VFRS Association.

After a year as a Representative he was elected as President of the Association and during his tenure he provided input to all operational, funding and administrative policy development with the Department of Fire and Emergency Services. He also served from 2001-2009 as Chairman of the Shire of Harvey Council Bushfire Advisory Committee.

In 2016 under his leadership the Brunswick Junction VFRS battled a number of large bushfires within a six week period including the devastating fire that impacted Harvey and raged through the town of Yarloop. He has also focussed on recruitment and development of volunteers in the Brigade and this is reflected in the positive effect on volunteer recruitment.

He has overseen the development of training opportunities giving younger members the chance to increase their skillset. He also uses his role as Captain to guide local emergency preparedness through continued community engagement.

Mr Burgoyne embodies the spirit of volunteerism and VFRS in Western Australia.

Wellness Branch Brigade Visits

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The DFES Wellness Branch are undertaking regional visits again this year.

A wellness team member will visit each region for several days to meet with as many brigades/groups/units (BGU’s) as possible in an aim to increase their level of awareness and understanding of:

  • ‘Being Ready’ – outlining an individual’s role in their own wellbeing, proactive strategies to build resilience, stress management tips, and general health and wellbeing practices  
  • ‘Critical Incident / Potentially Traumatic Event Exposure Reporting and Response’ – support services available, and reporting processes to ensure an appropriate wellness response is provided

The evening includes a presentation on the above topics and a BBQ. All relevant DFES employees, volunteers and their families are invited to attend.

Please see below for estimated dates. These dates are still to be confirmed.

The Wellness Branch are still working with the Midlands/Goldfields and Kimberley regions to set up trips. We will update you when we can.

*Please note these visits are over and above Mental Health First Aid training, critical incident responding, and other requested visits.

Karratha/Dampier Monday 6th May
Pannawonica Tuesday 7th May
Paraburdoo Wednesday 8th May
Tom Price Thursday 9th May
Newman Friday 10th May
Lower South West
Margaret River Monday 27th May
Busselton Tuesday 28th May
Balingup Wednesday 29th May
Bridgetown  Thursday 30th May
Great Southern
Albany Monday 29th July
Denmark Tuesday 30th July
Mt Barker Wednesday 31st July
Midwest Gascoyne
Moora Monday 5th August
Jurien Bay & Eneabba Tuesday 6th August
Dongara Wednesday 7th August
Geraldton Thursday 8th August
Kalbarri Friday 9th August 
Upper Great Southern
Lake Grace Monday 16th September
Wagin Tuesday 17th September 
Kulin Wednesday 18th September 
Narrogin Thursday 19th September
Pingelly Friday 20th September  
South West
Pinjarra Monday 7th October
Waroona Tuesday 8th October
Harvey Wednesday 9th October
Collie Thursday 10th October
Bunbury Friday 11th October