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How CFA activates thousands of TRAINED, EXPERIENCED VOLUNTEER FIREFIGHTERS to deal with multiple major incidents, anywhere at any time.  How MELBOURNE’S SUBURBS PLAY A MAJOR ROLE.  How VICTORIA NEEDS CFA’S SURGE CAPACITY hundreds of times a year.

Our colourful animated video explains how CFA’s volunteer surge capacity works.  Our computer-generated video shows a satellite view of hundreds of brigades as they respond.

Our animated video gives you a quick demonstration of CFA’s volunteer surge capacity.

Our computer-generated video shows modelling of official CFA data, put together by VFBV and the University of Melbourne’s Centre for Disaster Management and Public Safety to show how CFA’s great volunteer surge capacity can deal with multiple major incidents.


  • CFA Brigades protect 60% of suburban Melbourne, regional cities and all of country Victoria
  • Volunteers are more than 95% of Victoria’s firefighting force, CFA has almost 55,000 volunteers.
  • CFA Brigades in Melbourne’s outer suburbs contribute thousands of the volunteers that give CFA the surge capacity to mobilise large numbers of trained, experienced firefighters at short notice to deal with large and long running emergencies
  • CFA Brigades protect over 4 million Victorians and one million homes every day and night of the year
  • CFA Brigades respond to all manner of emergencies, including fire, flood, industrial/chemical incidents, medical and road accidents

An explanation of CFA Volunteer Surge Capacity

CFA volunteer surge capacity is the ability to field thousands of trained, experienced volunteer firefighters at short notice while at the same time maintaining normal day to day service delivery and protection of local communities. 

One of the fundamental benefits of the CFA volunteer based model is the depth of capacity and capability it provides to maintain response across Victoria to widespread, large scale, multiple and concurrent emergencies whilst maintaining local fire cover for the rest of Victoria.
  The blue dots on the map above show the location of CFA volunteer brigades across Victoria that provide a network of brigades all contributing to volunteer surge capacity.
  CFA volunteers attend local fires, day to day emergencies and major disasters anywhere in the state. 
  They are professionally trained and equipped for all fire risk situations - from houses, shops and factory fires to major hazards, bushfires and motor vehicle accidents.
  Your local CFA volunteer brigade is much more than just 3 or 4 firefighters on duty – it’s dozens of volunteer firefighters on call and ready whenever needed 24 hours a day 7 days a week. Every day of the year.
  This regular activation results in a well-motivated, exercised and prepared emergency force that maintains operational readiness across the whole year. This not only keeps communities safe but ensures the highest levels of firefighter safety due to frequent use of their skills.
  CFA’s huge volunteer numbers mean we have the ability to combat multiple fires at a time and keep supplying firefighters on the ground. Often for weeks, months or more as required.
  A huge portion of our CFA volunteer surge capacity comes from the ever-growing outer metropolitan Melbourne and provincial cities. So maintaining our volunteer numbers in these areas is vitally important for Victoria.
  These volunteers from outer metro along with CFA volunteers right across the state means we have thousands of trained, experienced volunteer fire-fighters in the field ready to be deployed every hour of the day and we can keep supplying these firefighters for weeks at a time wherever they are needed.

This enormous surge capacity is recognized by fire experts as one of the most fundamental benefits of the CFA volunteer workforce.

They are embedded in cities, suburbs, regions and even the smallest rural communities.

  The 2009 Bushfires Royal Commission said that the CFA volunteer surge capacity, together with the local knowledge and the ability of CFA volunteer fire brigades to mobilise a rapid response was a key strength during the 2009 Black Saturday Fires.
  This capacity is not just demonstrated during summer, but across the entire year. The 2014 Hazelwood Mine Fire is just one example of a non-bushfire emergency that extended over 45 days and required thousands of well trained volunteers. And this volunteer surge capacity is essential for Victoria’s continuing ability to deal with large fires.
Published in HomePage Top 3
Friday, 27 March 2015 00:00

Fiskville Must Be Replaced


Downloads below - the closure announcement, VFBV's response and VFBV's submission to the Fiskville Inquiry


Volunteer Fire Brigades Victoria (VFBV), the association representing CFA volunteers, says the closure of the Fiskville training facility is a blow for firefighter training in CFA, and will leave a major hole in the State’s capacity to train Victoria’s firefighters.

Firefighting involves inherent dangers and unpredictable hazards.  In an organisation like CFA, training is critical. Fiskville was a critical component of Victoria’s emergency service training network, and its closure will leave a significant gap.

VFBV President Hans van Hamond AFSM said CFA volunteers want to know there is a plan to replace the large scale and sophisticated training capacity Fiskville has been providing. Easy, frequent and cost effective access to training is critical for fire services, particularly organisations such as CFA.

“VFBV’s major concern through the Fiskville saga has been the safety of all CFA members, but now that the facility is closed, there must be serious and immediate attention paid to meeting the training needs of CFA’s tens of thousands of firefighters,” Mr van Hamond said.

“Fiskville has had a critically important role in CFA’s network of facilities, training local Brigades in that part of Victoria and providing live-in training and specialist programs for CFA personnel from all over the state,” he said.

“Even the recent temporary closure of the facility has led to some Brigades having to travel three to four hours away to visit a training facility with spare capacity.”

CFA’s large, geographically dispersed workforce and the volunteer-based nature of that workforce means that training needs to be available as close as possible to the volunteers’ home location, and where there is a need for multi-day training, long duration experience simulation or learning, accommodation facilities become a necessary component of the state’s training capability.

There is much public attention and emotion now involved with the Fiskville facility, but regardless of how these factors weigh into ultimate decisions, several things are certain;

  • Any training ground used for hot fire or other training must be safe to use
  • Investment to replace Fiskville’s significant state training capability will be required, as the rest of the fire services training network will not cope with the overall training load
  • Firefighters who currently rely on Fiskville as their local training facility must have locally available access to state of the art training
  • Support for any members who have been exposed to health hazards at Fiskville must continue; the closure of the facility does not mean their needs are at an end.

“CFA Brigades protect 60% of suburban Melbourne, regional cities and all of country Victoria every day and night of the year, and Victorians have a right to expect that their volunteers can access and continue to be trained to the professional standards to which the community is entitled,” Mr van Hamond said.

Download the State Government's media release here.

Download VFBV's media release here.

See CFA's announcement, with contact numbers for support services and the Fiskville Enquiry Hotline here.


Published in VFBV News
CFA Volunteers are the unpaid professionals of our Emergency Services. VFBV is their united voice, and speaks on behalf of Victoria's 60,000 CFA Volunteers.