On 21 June 2017 the Legislative Council resolved to establish a Select Committee to inquire into:
… the restructuring of Victoria’s fire services as contemplated by the Firefighters’ Presumptive Rights Compensation and Fire Services Legislation Amendment (Reform) Bill 2017 and, in particular, the —
(a) impact on fire service delivery across Victoria;
(b) effect on volunteer engagement and participation in fire service delivery;
(c) short term and long term cost impact on fire service provision; and,
(d) underlying policy rationale
The Firefighters’ Presumptive Rights Compensation and Fire Services Legislation Amendment (Reform) Bill 2017 proposes two major policy changes.
Part 2 of the Bill introduces a rebuttable, presumptive right to compensation for both career and volunteer firefighters in respect of certain cancers. Under this provision where a firefighter who meets the qualifying criteria specified in the Bill contracts a certain cancer, the cancer is deemed to have been caused by their firefighting exposure and is treated as a compensable injury. Where evidence exists that the cancer was due to other causes, that presumption can be challenged.
Parts 3 to 8 of the Bill propose a restructure of the Victorian fire services framework through three key changes:
(1) Abolition of the MFB Board and renaming of MFB to Fire Rescue Victoria (FRV). The MFB Chief Executive and Chief Officer roles are combined as the FRV Commissioner. All existing CFA career firefighters and 35 CFA integrated fire stations are transferred to FRV.
(2) The MFD is renamed the FRV fire district and expanded to include the areas currently serviced by the CFA’s 35 integrated stations. A new panel is created to periodically advise the Minister on the need for revisions to the FRV fire district boundary.
(3) The CFA is reconstituted as a fully volunteer fire service. All paid staff (training and operations officers, technical and administrative staff) will be employed by FRV and seconded back to the CFA.