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Rowville Volunteers proudly serving the community since 1942

Mark Kennedy

Integration and Rowville brigade

Monday, 27 August 2012

Rowville fire brigade has moved a step closer to becoming an integrated brigade with the appointment of Operations Officer Mark Kennedy to assist in the transition and operation of the combined volunteer and staff fire station.

Mark is one of four new Operations Officers appointed this year under Project 2016 which will create 342 new career fire fighter and operations officer positions and build or modify 10 fire stations.

The Rowville fire station which is currently located in Taylors Lane is one of the busiest brigades in the eastern metropolitan area according to Mark.

“We still have to build the new fire station on the corner of Wellington Road and Le John Street, but we’re very confident that the new integrated station will work well.” Mark says. “It will have the capacity to accommodate up to 6 staff per shift; a 4 bay drive through motor room; a meeting room; a dayroom area; brigade offices ancillary support spaces; training yard and car park areas.”

Mark believes integrated fire stations are the best model for service delivery in those places where CFA service is intense and in high demand. “I’ve worked with and experienced the integrated model elsewhere and I’m very confident it will be a success in Rowville as well,” says Mark - a highly experienced CFA career officer who has worked in places as diverse as Geelong City, Boronia, Morwell, Eltham, Fiskville and more recently at Dandenong; so he knows a bit about the workings of integrated CFA stations.

“I reckon the fundamental thing that needs to be done when starting out with an integrated fire brigade is to build rapport between staff and volunteer members – it’s essential to a cohesive environment. The colour of the stripes on the helmet doesn’t make a difference to the community, it’s a combined team effort”, Mark says.

“One of the most important things essential to a good integrated fire brigade is building on the current skills that the brigade members have and using those skills,” he says. “The brigade’s job is to get the first truck out the door as soon as possible. It may have combined career firefighters and volunteers on it or it may not. But at the end of the day people whose house is on fire – all they want to see is a fire truck that comes to their assistance – it doesn’t matter if they’re career staff or volunteers, they just need help.

Mark says in the case of Rowville, there are about fifty very active volunteer firefighters who do a great job. However he says they need some relief to get the job done during the day and that’s why CFA is moving to the integrated model. “One important aspect of this is to make sure that we use volunteers’ time effectively says Mark.” So if things are quiet, we can allow volunteers to get home to their families or back to work and be available for the next call.

Brigade Captain John Farrer is just as confident as Mark Kennedy that the integrated fire brigade model will work well in Rowville. He says the Rowville area had changed significantly over the brigades 70 year history. “This will be the third home of Rowville CFA. From our humble beginnings as a bush brigade to responding to more than 300 calls a year, we’ve watched the area grow to become a huge population centre,” John says. “I think the partnership between volunteer and career staff will ensure the highest standards of service will continue to be delivered to our community,” John says.

Construction of the new Rowville Fire Station Project is expected to begin this year and be completed in 2013.

Project 2016 has achieved several major milestones so far this year. This includes the creation of 67 career firefighter positions with 39 of them already deployed to integrated fire stations in outer metropolitan and regional fire stations. This has seen additional career firefighters deployed to integrated stations at Mornington, Rosebud, Patterson River, Point Cook, Melton, Traralgon, Dandenong and Sunbury; Establishment of operational staff positions at Hallam, Shepparton and Rowville.

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