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2018 National Volunteer Welfare & Efficiency Survey

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The VFRSA has again committed to the National Volunteer Welfare and Efficiency Survey, which opens soon.

To register your interest (and to receive a direct link to the Survey when it opens on 31st August), just click on this link.

An introduction letter is also attached to this email which provides some background on why we do the survey.

Captains/Secretaries – please forward this email to as many members as possible and encourage them to participate.  This is a great opportunity for individual volunteers to have their voices heard by both DFES and the Association.

If you have any queries with regards to the Survey, please contact the Association office

Message from the Acting Chairperson of the Youth Committee, Jodie Breese

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The Volunteer Fire and Rescue Services Association of WA (Inc.) Youth Committee formed this year to focus on the recruitment and retention of youth aged between 18 and 30 within the VFRS. With three executive members guiding us, we have combined our ideas and concerns to start working on new initiatives and improvements.

We are currently raising awareness of the Committee to youth volunteers with the aid of presentations, programs, public events, social media, and general discussions. We are also attending meetings and conferences with DFES and the VFRS Association in order to represent youth interests.

The committee members are:

Central Wheatbelt Zone:          Jodie Breese (Toodyay)

Brett Turnbull (Northam

Goldfields Zone:                         TK Kippin (Coolgardie)

Great Southern Zone:               Nathan Cook (Wagin)

Metropolitan Zone:                   Kieran Schoof (Armadale)

Northern Zone:                          Glen Auzins (Jurien Bay)

South West Zone:                     Scott Britza (Harvey)

A representative was sought from each Zone, and we are currently in discussions with the North West Zone.

Please feel free to discuss any ideas or concerns with representatives.

60 Years of Service – Norman (Norm) Flynn AFSM

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Norman (Norm) Flynn joined Manjimup VFRS in December 1957 before transferring to Busselton VFRS in July 1965.

He was elected Captain of Busselton VFRS in December 1977 and President of the South West Zone in August 1986.  Norm was made a life member of Busselton in 1978, the South West Zone in 2001 and the Association in 2006.

Norm received the Australian Fire Services Medal in January 1998 for distinguished service with WA’s fire services; but also received the Queen’s 20 Year and Good Conduct Medal (1978).

Following his election to the Association as representative for the South West Zone in March 1989 (replacing Jock Holgate), he served as Vice President from 2005 to 2011 and retired from the Association in 2013.

Congratulations to Norm on receiving his 60 Year Service medal (from A/Commissioner Lloyd Bailey AFSM).

60 Years of Service – Percival (Jock) Holgate AFSM

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Percival (Jock) Holgate joined Wagin VFRS in 1941 before later transferring to Busselton.  He was made life member of Busselton VFRS in 1962, the Association in 1979 and the South West Zone in 1982.  Jock is one of the longest servicing members of the Association Executive – having served from October 1956 (representing the South West Zone) and retiring an astonishing 33 years later, at Easter 1989.

He received the Australian Fire Services Medal in January 1989 for distinguished service with WA’s fire services; but also received the Queen’s 20 Year and Good Conduct Medal and the 15 Year International Medal in 1984.

Congratulations Jock on receiving your 60 Year Service medal (from A/Commissioner Lloyd Bailey AFSM).

Busselton VFRS Annual Dinner

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Busselton VFRS held their Annual Dinner and Awards night on Saturday 4th August, marking the 108th year of the Busselton Volunteer Fire & Rescue Service and the 5000th call out for the Brigade.

The evening is an opportunity to reflect on the events of the last 12 months and to thank Members for their time and efforts and the commitment they have made as a Volunteer with the Brigade. This includes not only turning out to incidents, but the time spent training every week and on weekend courses, attending community events and just doing what needs to be done to keep the Brigade running and operational.

The night is also an opportunity to acknowledge and thank partners because without their support and understanding our members would not be able to do what they do.

This year, they recognised a number of their Members for their Volunteering Service –

5 Years’ Service – Kate Willott and Graham Ace
10 Years’ Service – Michael Wishart
30 Years’ Service – Brian Davey
4th Clasp (National Medal) – Ean Osborn recognising 57 years of Volunteering and Service


In addition, Norm Flynn and Jock Holgate were both honoured with the 60 Year Service Medal – please see separate stories.

Each year, the Brigade also presents a number of Brigade Awards:

Encouragement Award – Steve Reynolds
Rookie of the Year – Hayden McDonald
Firefighter of the Year – Gary Van Tienen

Our congratulations and appreciation go to all our Award and Medal recipients.

Busselton VFRS would like to thank Acting Commissioner Lloyd Bailey, Acting Superintendent Danny Mosconi, Acting District Officer Capes Region Peter Thomas, Area Officer Andy Thompson and their Partners for attending the evening and assisting with the Medal presentations.

VFRS Pathways

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The Association is pleased to announce that DFES have agreed to a new, revised VFRS Pathway that meets the training needs of our Service, Brigades and Members.

A copy of the Pathway has been emailed to all Brigades, however a copy can also be requested from the Association office.

Some points to note:

  • Each of the roles will be its own Pathway (this is a system limitation), however the system will recognise when a particular competency has already been completed and will not ask you to re-complete the course;
  • The only roles that have a specific order in which the courses need to be undertaken are Appliance Driver, Bush Fire Fighting and Structural Firefighting (these are designated by black arrows between the courses); and
  • The Leadership course information at the bottom of the page is still under development and is suggested only at this stage.

The old VFF1 pathway has been renamed “Probationary Fire Fighter” and has 3 courses within it – Introduction to Firefighting, Rural Bush Firefighting and Foundation Courses (note the communications courses have not yet been written).  These are effectively the existing components of VFF1 that have been renamed and the duplication between courses removed.

Brigades have the option to train the Probationary Fire Fighter program at a Brigade level if:

  1. They have an appropriately qualified trainer/assessor within their Brigade who is qualified on the relevant course who is willing to provide the training; or
  2. An appropriately qualified trainer/assessor from another Brigade who is qualified on the relevant course who is willing to provide the training; and
  3. Assessments are undertaken by someone external to the Brigade (preferably an AO/DO with appropriate competencies) who has appropriate trainer/assessor qualifications in the relevant course.

If your Brigade does not have somebody who is qualified to undertake the training, or your Brigade would prefer that all of your training is provided by DFES staff, this is entirely up to your Brigade.  Should you be advised that your Brigade MUST complete this training in house, please contact me as soon as possible.

Hopefully it all makes sense.  There is an implementation guide currently in development which explains everything further, however with the amount of misinformation currently being circulated by persons unknown, we thought it better to provide you with a copy of this document as soon as possible.

Please do not hesitate to contact your Zone representatives or the Association office if you have any queries

Operational Efficiency Payments / Members Recoups

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Both DFES staff and the Association office have received queries from individual members with regards to their entitlements under Drivers’ License and Telephone Recoups as listed in VFRS Brigade Administrative Directive 5.4 and SAP 5.4A Payments and Subsidies for VFRS Brigades.

With VFRS Brigade Operational Efficiency Payments (OEP) due to be deposited into your bank accounts shortly, we thought it timely to provide the following information.

  • This payment was previously called a Merit Payment and did not include drivers’ license or telephone recoups, which the individual member had to claim themselves.  As many members did not bother due to the paperwork required, DFES and the Association agreed that a sliding scale of payments would be included with the merit payment and renamed OEP.
  • OEP is based on your Brigade profile (based on a 5 year average of turnouts and reviewed every 2 years), paid in August annually.

For those Brigades who are members of the Association (96 out of 100), you will have the Association’s affiliation fee taken out prior to payment as well as your Zone fees.  Please contact your Zone to find out what these fees are.  If your Brigade is also a member of the Welfare Fund,this will also be deducted.

Some things to note:

  • Drivers’ license and telephone recoups are not Brigade monies and should be distributed to your members (you are not limited to the number of members the calculation is based on).  For instance, if you have 25 active members, it is perfectly acceptable to divide the total amount paid for drivers’ license and telephone recoups by that number and distribute the funds that way.
  • If you wish to pay the drivers’ license funds to only those who drive your appliances, that is also acceptable.
  • Should your Brigade wish to retain the funds, this needs to be brought up as a notice of motion at a Brigade meeting (AGM is best) and voted on by the membership.  Should the Brigade vote to retain the funds, no member should have their request to be provided with their share refused by the Brigade.  This needs to be ratified annually as Brigade membership changes, as does the personal circumstances of your members.

If you have any queries with regards to this, please contact your Zone representatives, Regional staff or the Association office.

Association Welfare Officer

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We are pleased to announce that Max Osborn AFSM has re-joined the Association to undertake the newly created “Welfare Officer” position.  This position is to be trialled for 12 months pending review in August 2019.

Max will be assisting the Association Executive and Executive Officer in ensuring our members are being appropriately supported via the DFES Wellness system and supporting our members who are currently negotiating claims with RiskCover for injuries sustained whilst volunteering.

We are still working out final details of how the position will operate, however he is already undertaking the RiskCover side of the role and will be contacting affected members over the next few days.

If you have any queries, please contact your Zone representatives or the Association office.

Results of Executive Elections – 2018 to 2020

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It is my pleasure to advise the results of recent Association Zone Representative elections for the period 2018 to 2010:

  • Central Wheatbelt Zone                      Stephen King was re-elected unopposed
  • Goldfields Zone                                   Shane Munro was re-elected by a majority of votes
  • Great Southern Zone                          Paul Williamson was elected by a majority of votes
  • Metropolitan Zone                              Andrew Munro was re-elected unopposed
  • North West Zone                                 Chris O’Connell was re-elected by a majority of votes
  • Northern Zone                                    Stephen Manning was re-elected unopposed
  • South West Zone                                 Robert Papalia AFSM was re-elected unopposed

In addition, Paul du Boulay (Central Wheatbelt Zone) has been re-elected as President for 2018-20 by the Association Executive; whilst Trevor Jones (Goldfields Zone) has also been re-elected as Vice President for the same period.  The other Vice President position (expiring 2019) continues to be held by Robert Papalia (South West Zone).

I am sure you join with me in congratulating those members who have been re-elected and welcome Paul Williamson (Albany) to the Executive.

A Helping Hand in Vietnam

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It’s always great to hear good news stories from our members and this one is awesome.

In June last year Gary Deering, life member of Exmouth VFRS and past NW Zone representative for the Association, was holidaying in Vietnam when he came across a large firefighting drill (involving in excess of 20 vehicles, of all ages and makes). It was a hot and humid day, and while there may have been substantial language difficulties, this was no barrier to him stepping up and helping the crews with dragging and rolling hoses.  He even shouted everyone a round of Powerade when everything was done.  He also noticed that many of the trucks were old, PPE was very limited and some of the equipment should have been on display in a museum.

One truck in particular took his eye.

Fast forward 12 months….

Off to Vietnam again for Gary.  This time, he was accompanied by a 38mm crusader fire hose complete with Stortz fittings (packed in his luggage), destined for the Quang -Nam fire station Hoi An.

Gary had a lovely morning being shown around the fire station, chatting to the fire chief with the aid of Seven, guest liaison manager from the Little Hoi An Boutique Hotel. The chief explained that while the crews were not volunteers, they were not well paid, and decided to work as firefighters to make their community a better and safer place.

Awesome work Mr Deering!