The Future of Emergency Volunteers by Deputy Commissioner Bryan Cifuentes

Thursday, 12 Jun 2014

First and foremost I have to say a big thank you to all those who expressed well wishes I have received from volunteers, staff and community partners on my appointment as the acting Deputy Commissioner Emergency Volunteers. I can assure you it has been extremely humbling and I will be giving it 110 percent effort once I hit the ground.

Having been a member on the Malone Review team, listening to your voices from all Volunteers and Community partners across Queensland, only strengthened my existing belief that the real core strength of the organization is the local community values of neighbor helping neighbor, community helping community, empowerment of local ownership. I believe strongly that this ethos is part of any volunteers reason for doing what they do, this will not only be core to RFSQ and SES volunteer groups but also VMR, Coastguard, Surf Lifesavers and many others not mentioned. Any sports team will never win any premiership if they did not have the same ethos of mate helping mate! (Go Queensland!!!)

Fundamental to my belief has been my long term on ground experience of 43 years at the coalface commencing with Forestry Department, National Parks, Fraser Island Recreation Board, Rural Fire Board and QFES (Rural). A highlight of my career having had the good fortune along the way of gaining working experience on 'Project VESTA' directed by Phil Chaney and Jim Gould, both highly regarded and renowned CSIRO scientists on fire behavior and the impact on the landscape.

Queensland is a vast state and each area knows that fire can be friend or foe depending on how, when and where it is implemented or occurs.
The Malone Review vision was and still is what works well at the local level is supported:
  • increase local engagement and decision making
  • properly recognize the role of volunteers in emergency/disaster management and provide a framework for delivering the support they need to undertake their roles
  • re-establish the balance between mitigation and response, giving greater emphasis to bushfire mitigation and land management
  • address concerns that the existing rural fire and SES arrangements could be more efficient and coordinated
  • recognize the expertise of rural fire volunteers in bushfire management and establish structures that allow them to independently implement this expertise
  • establish advisory mechanisms that draw on the experience of a wide range of stakeholders in volunteer management, land management, fire operations and disaster management.
My vision is reflective and I intend reinvesting in fire in the landscape through both applications of mitigation and response.

I intend to empower the local teams of all volunteers and their respective communities so they can achieve their aspirations and goals.

I intend to work in partnership and alongside Queensland Fire and Emergency Services to achieve a cohesive service delivery when and where that is required.

I intend to work in partnership with other landholders who are the owners of the risk at hand.

Upon settling in and sizing up the task ahead I look forward to undertaking a "listening tour" with the Assistant Minister for Emergency Volunteers, the Honorable Ted Malone. There are many excellent partnerships and local examples where volunteers from both water and land expertise engage well and support their community. Together with the Assistant Minister I am particularly keen to meet and hear from all volunteers involved in emergency services across the State, to establish what is working well and what needs some work.

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