Adopted Minutes

Thursday, 8th December, 2011



Ian Thomas
Community Rep./Committee

Jessamy Nicholas:
EPA Victoria

Michael Isaachsen
Community Rep./Committee

Peter La Rose
Operations Manager, Terminals Pty Ltd

Faye Simpson
Community Rep./Committee

Craig Lapsley
Fire Services Commissioner

Bro Sheffield-Brotherton
Community Rep./Committee

Susan Chatterton
Minute Taker

Deborah Macfarlane
Community Rep./Committee

Robin Saunders:

Theo Pykoulas
City of Maribyrnong





Robin         Apologies:   Carlo Fasolino

                    Draft Agenda confirmed


Craig          The bushfires in 2009 were fundamental in changing the way fire services establish priorities.  The need for someone to bring together the three fire fighting agencies (MMFB, DSE and CFA) was recognised in Recommendation 63 of the 2009 Victorian Bushfires Royal Commission..

                    Craig handed around a one page information leaflet – “A renewed focus on primacy of life”, which focused on issuing of timely, relevant and tailored emergency warnings to people along with the traditional focus on protecting life and property through fire fighting.

                    The new legislation talks about:-

1.    Reform program: a 3 year rolling program of renewal

2.    Set of standards for Fire Services to establish consistency across DSE, CFA and MFB. (Craig noted that this was a problem area for other states too).

3.    The Fire Services Commissioner has operational control of all major fires – he can determine what is major (significant impact on the community and of long duration  i.e. greater than one day)

4.    Information to community and issuing warnings

5.    Training and accreditation for executives of the three services.

                    Strategic Control priorities shall form the basis of the Incident Strategy and Incident Action Planning processes.

                    Strategic Control priorities were issued by the Fire Services Commissioner to all emergency Incident Controllers in all Victoria’s fire and emergency services, providing direction in the management of fires, floods and other incidents. They are:

1.    Protection and preservation of life is paramount

2.    Issuing of community information and community warnings – extends to pre-emergency preparation

3.    Protection of critical infrastructure and community assets

4.    Protection of residential property

5.    Protection of assets supporting individual livelihoods and economic production

6.    Protection of environmental and conservation assets

                    Craig distributed an A3 information guide titled “Your Bushfire Survival

§  What to do:-

                                                                             i.     Leave early – always the safest option

                                                                           ii.     Be well prepared – your safety is not guaranteed

                                                                          iii.     Last resort – High risk of trauma, injury or death

                    For more information visit or call the Victorian bushfire Information line 1800 240 667.

                    Craig stated that Incident Controllers need to manage the fire and the community at the same time, which will require some culture change, and the increased use of iphones, social media, twitter and faebook.

                    Silos between Telcos are still a little in evidence. There are different radio systems in Melbourne (UHF) and the country (VHF), and problems with integration exist. We’ve still got old technology - we have the best radios but not IP (Internet Protocol). We need to interface with IP technology for voice over the internet. Craig quoted an example of a lady in the community who, during a fire emergency, was better informed than the fire-fighters.

Deborah    Questioned whether the emergency services had a bias towards middle-aged men?

Craig          Responded in a general way, with reference later in the session to the need for cultural change. He discussed the challenges of the 7 Feb 2009 fires and the floods of seven rivers this year. We’re not good at managing the very big emergency.

Ian              Questioned whether we had enough helicopters?

Craig          We currently have 41 aircraft and 24 helicopters. Last year we had 4 big helicopters, two big Russian helicopters, 8 medium sized and 12 light helicopters..  None of these machines are owned.  These machines are specialist machines and companies move them globally around the world to keep them occupied.  We have a strong commercial arrangement with 3rd parties in relation to fire break clearing equipment.

                    For building regulations on private bunkers go to Google Wildfire and you will find a product that has been fully tested by the CSIRO.  It is an underground bunker, totally certified, and has been developed and marketed by Anthony Tratt..

                    Note from Chair: the following web site is relevant



 Ian             Ian also raised the issue of whether there should be control of where we live, to prevent people living in areas where the fire risk is too high.

Craig          Distributed copies of Annual Report 2010 -11

Peter          Has there been any success with greater ground clearing to prevent fires?

Craig          The 10/30 rule (which applies within areas covered by the Bushfire Management Overlay in Victoria’s planning schemes - country Victoria and some Metropolitan areas) has been extended recently to 10/50. That means within 10 metres of a home, all vegetation may be cleared without a permit, while all vegetation except trees may be cleared within 50 metres.

                    There has also been a better view within planning of the need for owners to take responsibility if they are building in the bush.

                    The 1958 Acts governing the CFA and the MMFB need to be rewritten to better integrate the organisations. Organisational improvement is needed to address the hierarchical structure, and to build capability and capacity. The corporatisation of farming has had severe impact on the manpower available for fire fighting.

Faye           Asked about the harnessing of people who do have experience in managing big emergencies.

Craig          Agreed this was necessary, and gave an example of how it was happening in the management of large floods.

                    Concerning the need for cultural change, Emergency Services can be arrogant. The main areas for action lie within leadership, empowering communities, accountability and integration.

                    Collaboration in Wye River between the Life Saving Club and the CFA has demonstrated the benefits for each organisation in having a broader view.

Robin         Thanked Craig for coming and sharing his thoughts: it has been fascinating listening to what you had to tell us.


Draft Minutes - Adopted.

Action Item 03/211-5  






Jessamy has taken over from Kerry

1.     distributed Activity Report

2.     distributed – 5 Year Plan 2011 -2016

3.     consultation on Victoria’s vehicle emissions review

4.     final Noise from Industry in Regional Victoria guidelines released

5.     24 hour pollution hot line – 1330 EPA Vic (1300 372 842) commenced on 1 July 2011.


Robin thanked Jessamy and asked that she email the EPA Activity Report to him prior to meetings.







Nothing to report.




Reducing Meeting frequency and the possibility of having some meetings on site.


Peter          We would like to reduce the meeting frequency from 4 per year to 3 and have 1 meeting on site so we can actually look at the site at the same time.

Robin         Geelong meetings happen at 3pm which is very convenient.

Ian              I am not open to earlier time, the time we meet is good and duration.  Strongly object to reducing meetings.  Like to see us continue at 4 meetings per year.

Bro              My observation that once you fall below quarterly they loose their dynamic.


Agreed to keep 4 meetings per year.


Robin         I have already notified people of dates for next year.  We will re visit towards end of next year.  One of those 4 meetings will be held at the site.


Agreed to hold a meeting on site.


Peter          We have more resources to attend meetings if held earlier.

Robin         Asked committee regarding availability on Wednesday. 


Agreed to move one meeting to Wednesday at 3pm.


Deborah    Thanked Robin for another excellent year.


MEETING DATES FOR NEXT YEAR 2012 (re-jigged by the Chair after the meeting)

Wednesday 29 Feb (3:00pm), Thursday 31 May, Thursday 30 August and Wednesday 28 November 2012. The Wednesday meetings will be at the Terminals site office at Mackenzie Road, Coode Island.




NEXT MEETING          Wednesday   29 February, 2012 at 3:00 pm, at Terminals site office, Mackenzie Road, Coode Island