NO ONE wants to talk about it officially.
But, as a community, we know what’s going on.
And it’s an absolute disgrace that the State Government and CFA management would simply publish response times without providing local explanations.
In this case it’s the Wonthaggi CFA that’s been hung out to dry by the bald figures.
The latest response times report for Q3 (Jan-March 2018), released by the State Government on May 16 based on figures collected by the CFA, show that the Wonthaggi brigade achieved the required standard, of responding to emergency incidents within eight minutes, on 36 per cent of occasions.
It was the lowest percentage figure of those brigades listed in Region 8, including the likes Frankston, Hallam, Rosebud, Pakenham, Mt Eliza and Berwick.
And only Lakes Entrance (21%, 10 minute standard), Sale (31%, 8 min) and Moe (35%-30% 8 min) across the state had poorer response times.
Not all brigades are included. For example, there are no figures for Leongatha, Korumburra and Inverloch.
According to the CFA, if a Brigade Area had less than 10 emergency events in the reporting period, the Brigade Area will not be included in the report.
Wonthaggi had 38 incidents across all hazard classes.
“Calculating the SDS performance for Brigade Areas with low volumes of emergency events will not provide a statistically significant indication of service delivery performance,” they say.
It’s hardly surprising that Wonthaggi would be in this position.
The brigade has recently put a call out for more volunteers and could use an extra dozen recruits as the minimum.
But the negative publicity surrounding the CFA, as part of a political stoush between the State Government, the United Firefighters Union and the Opposition parties has made it all the more difficult to attract volunteers.
As it stands, all of the volunteers have day jobs and while they have pagers, they can only attend as their work commitments allow them. Of course other neighbouring brigades support them, as Dalyston and Inverloch did last Friday when a call came through from Rose Lodge.
But if the UFU had its way, all these urban fringe towns and larger country centres would have their CFA brigades replaced, either partly or fully, by paid fire fighters.
There’s also the issue of who sets eight or 10 minutes as the standard for statistical measurement?
As a local fire fighter said this week, how often would the police or ambulance be able to respond in country areas within eight minutes when they have been called away elsewhere?
It’s not as simple as publishing the figures without explanation. Our brigades need support not criticism.
What the CFA said
While Wonthaggi was named on ABC Radio last week for its response times, the CFA tried to put a positive spin on the quarterly report overall.
“The data shows continued improvement in responding to emergency incidents across Victoria,” said the CFA.
“The data released also includes information about the other important work CFA undertakes, such as emergency medical responses, land planning, education and home fire safety.
“In the three months to March 31, the 107 busiest CFA brigades responded to 6770 emergency incidents, up from 6582 in the second quarter.
“The Customer Service Delivery Standard compliance rate was at 88 per cent – this is a measure of the first firefighting vehicle arriving on scene.”
CFA Chief Officer Steve Warrington said the data showed where things were working well and would also enable CFA to identify areas for improvement.
“The data shows that CFA is a high performing organisation that Victorians can trust,” Mr Warrington said.
“This data allows us to evaluate and analyse how resources are allocated, identify growth and look at where brigades may need additional assistance.
“The importance of holistic fire management is crucial and this data demonstrates CFA’s continued development of this approach, through educating communities on fire prevention and preparedness, not just providing an emergency response.”
“CFA assessed 1578 planning applications and held 235 Fire Ready Victoria workshops programs and services for the Victorian community.
“Fighting fires is only one aspect of a very broad spectrum of CFA’s service delivery.”