Thank you to all those who have already participated in our Quick Quizzes – they have turned out to be a great idea and have been very well supported.
Last week we asked you to share a little bit about your brigade and had some interesting (and troubling) responses.
Firstly, the mean average number of years respondents had been with their current Brigades was slightly over 12 with a median average of 9. Given that the mean average and median average from last week’s question about how long respondents had been an emergency services volunteer in total were 17 and 12 respectively, it’s fair to extrapolate that the majority (~70%) of our members have been with their current Brigade for the majority of the entire time they’ve been volunteering!
In terms of how many active members were in each Brigade, the graph below shows a typical Bell Curve with the majority of Brigades (71%) having between 11 and 50 active members. We were pleasantly surprised to see a good number of respondents (>4%) advise that the current active membership of their brigades are greater than 76.
The mean average number of vehicles currently managed by each Brigade was just shy of 3 with a range of 0 to 9. Although there was a general proportional trend linking the number of active members to number of vehicles (i.e. the more members, the more vehicles), there were also a few surprises in this space. For example, a significant number of Brigades (>18%) that have between 26 and 50 active members only have 1 vehicle under their management. Perhaps a little more challenging was the relatively high number (~66%) of large Brigades with between 51 and 75 active members that have 3 or less vehicles under management.
Then, when we asked respondents what types of activities volunteers from their Brigade had undertaken in the last 12 months, things got really interesting.
Not surprisingly, 100% of Volunteer Bush Fire Brigades attended local bush fires in the last year. 94% said members of their Brigades had also attended bush fires in other adjacent areas and more than 70% told us their Brigades had attended bush fires in areas further than one Shire away.
Interestingly, 25% and 53% of Volunteer Bush Fire Brigades had attended local vehicle crashes and local structure fires respectively, while around 90% had served the community by carrying out mitigation activities (excluding education).
It’s a little sad but doesn’t shock us that more than 62% said their Brigade had been involved in fund raising activities with 20% having done fund raising for a person or good cause not connected to their brigade.
There’s some more interesting data that came out of this question – take a look at the graph below:
When we asked for information about what facilities member’s brigades have, well, take a look for yourself below.
- 16% of Brigades told us they don’t have a covered parking area for all appliances (fire fighting trucks).
- Only around half said they had either the right number or right type of appliances
- Less than a third said they had enough radios/phone for everyone
- More than a third said they don’t have the right amount and type of PPE for all volunteers
- More than 30% don’t have an office space
- Only 69% have drinking water on tap
- Less than two thirds have both male and female toilets
- Less than one third have male and female showers
- About a quarter don’t have a kitchen area for basic food preparation
- 15% don’t have an adequate fridge
- Only about a half of the Brigades said they had adequate air-conditioning/ventilation
- 36% don’t have an adequate training/meeting area
- 40% reported having enough computers/office equipment
- About half said they didn’t have enough office furniture, and
- 41% told us they can’t get reliable mobile phone reception at their Brigade
Some of the comments we received in response to this question included:
- “We also use our own 4wd units”
- “We are still waiting on a new shed”
- “I have other Vounteers here [for other purposes] here at our property but i am not allowed to have a standby radio”
- “Our brigade being regional and somewhat out of town has no appliances.”
- “Seriously we just have a tin shed in each of two locations. One has a toilet and cold water. The other has no running water”
- “We have been asking for 3 years for a station. Our Light Tanker was donated from a mining company and not ESL funded so we cant get a station or ESL funding. We have asked for help with LGGS funding and Royalties for regions but we have given up hope.”
- “No radios, no office, no where to keep our appliance.”
And finally, answers to our question “Is there anything you believe your Brigade requires to make it more effective and efficient?” were received from around 40% of respondents and included:
- “Our brigade needs a second fire unit and both uints [sic] need to have diesel water pumps and no plastic at all on the outside of the unit”
- “A better shed”
- “2 purpose built 4×4 trucks not delivery trucks converted to fire appliance, they are slow and dangerous”
- “Torches, go back to zip up boots. It saves time. Members not to pay esl or tax reduction for time volunteered for the year”
- “More radios, light tanker (fast response and more suitable for terrain)”
- “We strongly believe that we need a second unit, being a light tanker/1.4. We have tried for years and it has been acknowledged at various times that we should but here we still are without one. We are also waiting on funding application outcome for our shed that barely fits our [appliance] – at the same time they would then hopefully look to bring our shed up to standard (it leaks in the office for example).”
- “Internet connection”
- “We could easily field crews for 2 more light tankers or 1 more heavy”
- “Our brigade is on the outer edge of the shire…with access to a fire truck but is over a 20minute drive to get to. A local private fire just around the corner took 40 minutes to get an appliance there as we are not supposed to use slip on units which are privately owned.”
- “1.4 appliance is not really suitable in rural area with no scheme water. Lack of indoor meeting area/office makes it difficult to hold regular training/meetings.”
- “It would be good to get better GPS navigation equipment in vehicles that can relay and show vehicles and other information at fires.”
- “We need a shed to call home. Somewhere to keep our non-esl funded Light tanker, some where to train, some where to meet, somewhere to do brigade admin, somewhere to store our gear, somewhere to store our auxiliary gear response trailer.”
- “Mobile phone booster, we have no phone reception inside the office/building/training area, making it hard to field calls, exterior lighting for training nights/meeting and events, a/c to training area (extremely hot in summer and very cold in winter)”
- “Upgrading of 15 year old 3.4 …..badly needs overhaul”
Again, we are very grateful to those who shared your experiences with us. If you know of anyone in another Brigade who hasn’t completed this quick quiz, please send them this link (http://avbfb.org.au/quick-quiz-a-bit-about-your-brigade/)and encourage them to spend 5 minutes sharing like you did.
Also, if you haven’t completed all the previous quizzes, please consider giving them a go – the more we know, the better able we are to help make things better for all.
Looking for the next Quick Quiz? Click here to see all the quizzes available and send the link on to your friends and colleagues when you get a moment.