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CFA volunteers face health testing

CFA volunteers are undergoing medical testing as part of a trial to ensure volunteer members are fit to be on the fire ground.

463 volunteers have already participated in the program, which assesses medical, physical and psychological fitness.

Three members have been found to have concerning health issues so far.

Steve Warrington, Chief Fire Officer at the CFA, told Neil Mitchell that work the program began 18 months ago.

Mr Warrington said the system would rely on member honesty.

“If they [volunteers] tell us that they’re healthy and they’ve been to the doctor, we don’t want to know the details,” he said.

Member feedback from the trial has indicated that the physical assessment is too onerous, and this component of the trial has been removed temporarily.

Career staff will not be subject to the new testing. Mr Warrington said career staff are assessed under a different process, which does not include regular medical or fitness testing, but does include frequent psychological assessment.

If volunteers are found to have concerning health problems, but still want to volunteer, the ultimate decision on whether they will be allowed on the fire ground will be made by the CFA.

“I’d much prefer to… make the hard decision than have circumstances where our people are seriously injured or unhealthy on the fire ground,” Mr Warrington said.

When the testing is rolled out across the CFA, volunteer members who refuse to participate may not be allowed on to the fire ground.