The Australian Fire Authorities Council (AFAC), was established in 1993, to improve the collaboration and coordination of effort between those Australian agencies with a responsibility for the protection of life and property from fire and other emergencies. The membership of agencies from the greater region saw AFACs name change to the Australasian Fire Authorities Council in 1996.
A rationale for the establishment of AFAC
The imperative for the establishment of AFAC derived from the absence of a centralized, coordinating authority for Australian fire and emergency services. Australia is a Federation of six states and two territories, operating under a constitution which grants responsibility for the laws relating to a range of key areas of national life including those relating to fire and emergency services to the states and territories. Accordingly, Australias fire and emergency service agencies operate within the jurisdictional boundaries of their respective states and territories and previously had little, or no, formal interface with other similarly based agencies.
Since its inception, AFACs role has progressively expanded. Today, AFAC also provides a wide range of innovative services that have successfully reduced duplication of effort throughout the fire services and as a result, delivered significant cost savings to member agencies.
The current membership of AFAC stands at twenty-four full members and eleven associate members. All Australian fire and emergency agencies are full members of AFAC, as is the New Zealand Fire Service. Among the associate members are theHong Kong Fire Service, Singapore Civil Defence Force, and the Papua New GuineaFire Service, while East Timor Fiji, Samoa, and Tonga are in the process of lodging applications under this membership category.
AFAC is keen to strengthen its relationships with neighbors in the greater region, such as Indonesia and other Pacific Rim nations, and intends to commence discussions on that basis in the near future.
AFACs membership is drawn from agencies that have specialist skills in every conceivable operational setting and accordingly, comprises agencies operating in urban and rural and wildland environments.
promote community fire prevention and education
enhance the operational performance and accountability of fire and emergency service agencies
influence national fire policy, product and performance standards, and fire management practices
promote change within the fire industry in a planned and controlled way
coordinate education and training policies and strategies to provide a learning environment for member employees
obtain and share knowledge on issues affecting members, and facilitating discussion and debate on those issues
facilitate research and development in areas of common interest, and
effectively represent its members in Australasian and international forums.
To support these objectives AFAC provides a range of services, initiatives, and programs to its members including those relating to:
best practice policy development
advocacy and representation
learning and development
human resource management
research and development
development of Australian and ISO Standards
How AFAC operates
AFAC pursues its aims through a structure comprising the Council, featuring representation from heads of member agencies, together with the operation of five consultative strategy groups comprising nominated agency personnel.AFACs five Strategy Groups specialize in:
Volunteer and Employee Management
Operational Services (in rural/land management and urban settings)
Strategic Information Management, and
The work of each of the Strategy Groups and their underpinning Sub-groups is coordinated by an AFAC staff member who has particular skills and experience in each of the specialized areas. These specialists also undertake work on behalf of Council and the Chief Executive Officer.
The interface between Council and the strategy groups operates on a mutually consultative basis. Within this framework, Council routinely refers issues of strategic importance to the strategy groups for research and recommendation, while on other occasions the impetus on specific issues will emerge from the strategy groups themselves. Regardless of the source of an issue, the responsibility for decision-making resides with the Council. Ultimately, however, with respect to the constraints conferred by the jurisdictional boundaries alluded to earlier, AFAC members can choose to implement, or not to implement, the policies and practices developed centrally, as they consider appropriate in their respective environments.
At the2004 AFAC Council meeting (7-9 October 2004, Perth, Australia) AFAC joined the Global Wildland Fire Network officially: