Responding and Assisting in Bushfires Project

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Case for change

Forest and land managers responsible for bushfire prevention, as well as forestry and departmental contractors who participate in fire recovery activities, under the direction of incident controllers and responsible government agencies, require the skills to prevent bushfires and to respond effectively to bushfire recovery.

It is anticipated that Australia will have an increased frequency of bushfires in the future and seasonal changes are leaving less time for hazard reduction. Australia needs well-trained and prepared workers and managers dealing with increasingly demanding situations.

Industry feedback has indicated that a range of skill gaps emerged in the 2019-2020 bushfires, particularly in relation to effective communication and awareness of hazards associated with recovery activities.

The Forest Management and Harvesting Industry Reference Committee are committed to ensuring the safety of its workforce, who assist in bushfire recovery operations as part of their work duties. They want to ensure that workers and operators are effectively trained and ready to respond and assist when a bushfire emergency arises.

This project will review and develop national units of competency to incorporate the skills required of workers and contractors involved in the prevention, response, and clean-up of bushfires.

The Australian Industry Skills Committee (AISC) approved this project, out of the 2021 Annual Update to the IRC Skills Forecast and Proposed Schedule of Work (see pages 49-53).

The Forest Management and Harvesting Industry Reference Committee (IRC) will oversee this project as part of their responsibility to support engagement with the sector, and to ensure the project meets industry stakeholder needs.

Skills Impact and ForestWorks will manage this project, consistent with the 2012 Standards for Training Package Development.

 

Download Project Proposal (see page 49-53)

Project Plan

Forestry operators, arborists and other service providers hold a key role in assisting with bushfire mitigation and clean-up operations. These workers can have additional responsibilities placed upon them that go beyond their day-to-day role, particularly those who operate heavy machinery. They can be called to assist in the construction and maintenance of fuel or fire breaks, undertake mechanical fuel hazard reduction activities, and clean up after a bushfire. These workers must have and maintain appropriate skills to meet challenging and unpredictable situations.

The bushfires of 2019-2020 brought attention to how workers and contractors can support the prevention and clean-up of bushfires. The Federal Government’s Royal Commission into National Natural Disaster Arrangements highlighted the importance of skills in mechanical thinning and its potential to reduce the intensity and rate of spread of a bushfire.

Project Scope

Industry feedback has indicated that a range of skill gaps emerged in recent bushfires, particularly in relation to effective communication and awareness of hazards associated with recovery activities. Considerations will also be given to current skill needs in mechanical bushfire fuel load reduction.

This project will assess the extent of the skills gaps and propose training package solutions in consultation with the broad range of relevant stakeholders, including forestry and arboriculture representatives, government agencies and public safety and emergency services.

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Relevant Occupations

Forestry, arboriculture and civil construction workers and contractors engaged in bushfire recovery activities.

 

Project Team
Georgiana DaianProject Manager, ForestWorksgdaian@forestworks.com.au
Michelle ClaytonIRC and Industry Engagement Manager, ForestWorksmclayton@forestworks.com.au
Rob StowellIndustry Skills Standard Contractor

Timeline

August 2021
Initial scoping

Sept 2021 – Feb 2021
Development of draft qualifications, skill sets and units

March – April 2022
Drafts available for broad consultation

April 2022
Validation of final drafts

May 2022
Finalisation of Training Package components

May – July 2022
Independent Quality Assurance, and Edit and Equity review of Training Package components

July 2022
IRC consideration for sign-off and submission for endorsement

Subject Matter Experts

Subject Matter Experts will be drawn on throughout this project to help review and draft the revised units, skill sets and qualifications.

If you are interested in applying to be a subject matter expert and are able to volunteer your time to this project, please email details of your expertise to gdaian@forestworks.com.au

Opportunities for stakeholder input

Stakeholder input is appreciated throughout the duration of this project. The documents will be drafted in consultation with Subject Matter Experts and their networks. Opportunities to provide targeted feedback will occur when the draft materials are made available in March-April 2022, and again for validation of final drafts in April 2022. However, your feedback is welcomed at any time, and will help us in drafting the qualifications, skill set and units. It is important that training provides a skilled and flexible workforce for the future.

The qualifications, skill sets, and units of competency need to reflect real work experience. So, if you work in the sector, Skills Impact would love your input and help. Please feel free to register your interest for project updates and consultation opportunities by following the newsletter subscription link below. Alternatively, please feel free to contact the project manager, Georgiana Daian on gdaian@forestworks.com.au.

Development

The bushfires of 2019-2020 brought attention to how forestry operators, arborists and other service providers can support the prevention and clean-up of bushfires. The events also highlighted the need for updated national skills standards to support this work. Industry feedback indicated that a range of skill gaps emerged in recent bushfires, particularly in relation to effective communication and awareness of hazards associated with recovery activities. The Federal Government’s Royal Commission into National Natural Disaster Arrangements also highlighted the importance of skills in mechanical thinning and its potential to reduce the intensity and rate of spread of a bushfire.

Experts in the field are being consulted to assess the skills gaps among workers who assist in bushfire recovery operations and to propose training package solutions. A working group of subject matter experts has been identified and they will meet throughout November and December 2021. They will be consulted on the skills required of bushfire recovery operators, so these can be addressed in national units of competency. Essential skills such as effective communication and assessment of trees damaged by bushfires will be considered and represented in the skills standards.

Development outcomes and next steps

Broad stakeholder consultation is scheduled to commence in March 2022, when draft qualifications and units of competency will be made available for feedback on this webpage. Your input is welcome, please feel free to register your interest to keep informed of project updates and when draft materials are available for feedback by following the newsletter subscription link below.

 

Subscribe to updates about the project

Subscribe to the Skills Impact newsletter to keep informed about project updates and opportunities to provide input and feedback. Make sure to select ‘Forestry & Timber’ as your industry of interest.

 

Drafts Available

The bushfires of 2019-2020 brought attention to the key role that forestry operators, arborists and other service providers can play in supporting the prevention and clean-up of bushfires. Industry feedback following the fires indicated a range of skill gaps particularly in relation to communications in bushfire zones and in assessing the risks associated with fire affected or fire damaged trees. As a result, national skills standards to support this work are being reviewed and updated.

Bushfire recovery is a high-risk activity that requires operating under pressure and remaining on site for an extended period of time. It is important that contractors engaged by local councils or other authorities to perform this work understand the chain of command, possess knowledge of fireground communication systems and protocols, and have skills consistent with a national standard. Operators with the skills to make informed and rapid assessments about tree health and the risks posed by fire affected or fire damaged trees are essential to support both safety and environmental conservation outcomes in bushfire zones.

Thank you to those who provided feedback on draft units of competency made available on this page from 14 February to 23 March 2022. The drafts and any comments made are still available to view below.

Consultation took place to develop two national units of competency. One describes the skills required for adhering to bushfire zone communication protocols and structures while performing tasks such as vegetation clearing and clean-up operations on private and public land, including main roads. The second unit focusses on assessing the risks associated with fire affected or fire damaged trees and making recommendations regarding tree treatment as part of bushfire containment, recovery and prescribed burning operations.

Two existing units relating to chainsaw operations were also updated to clarify the frequency of performance evidence.

Feedback was sought on whether the draft units reflect industry’s current skills needs, standards and practices.

Your feedback will inform further updates to the drafts, after which they will be made available again for your consideration and validation during April 2022.

New unit code and nameApplicationLink
FWPCOT3XXX Apply communication protocols in vegetation clearing and clean-up operations in bushfire zoneThis unit of competency describes the skills and knowledge required to recognise the command and communication structure that applies in bushfire zones and to communicate effectively with others involved in vegetation clearing and clean-up operations on private and public land, including main roads.

The unit applies to contractors, including harvesting operators and arborists, who are engaged in vegetation clearing and clean-up operations in bushfire zone.

View draft unit
FWPCOT5XXX Assess hazard and health of fire damaged or fire affected treesThis unit of competency describes the skills and knowledge required to assess the health and risks associated with fire affected or fire damaged trees and to make recommendations on tree treatment as part of bushfire containment, recovery and prescribed burning operations.

The unit applies to those whose work involves the assessment and treatment of fire affected or fire damaged trees as part of bushfire containment, recovery and prescribed burning operations.

Two prerequisite units are proposed as follows:

  • AHCARB513 Examine and assess trees
  • AHCARB408 Perform a ground-based tree defect evaluation
View draft unit

The draft documents can be downloaded in Microsoft Word format by clicking here

Revised unit code and nameProposed changes/rationaleLink
FWPCOT2XXX Trim and cut felled treesPreviously: FWPCOT2256 Trim and cut felled trees

Changes to clarify the frequency of performance evidence

View draft unit
FWPFGM3XXX Fell trees manually (advanced)Previously: FWPFGM3217 Fell trees manually (advanced)

Changes to clarify the frequency of performance evidence

View draft unit

The draft documents can be downloaded in Microsoft Word format by clicking here

Summary consultation to date

Experts in the field were consulted to assess the skills gaps among workers who assist in bushfire recovery operations and to propose training package solutions. A working group of subject matter experts was identified and met throughout November and December 2021. They were consulted on the skills required of bushfire recovery operators, so these could be addressed in the draft units. Thank you to those who provided feedback during these activities.

Subscribe to updates about the project

Subscribe to the Skills Impact newsletter to keep informed about project updates and opportunities to provide input and feedback. Make sure to select ‘Forestry & Timber’ as your industry of interest.

 

Validation

Bushfire recovery is a high-risk activity that requires operating under pressure and remaining on site for an extended period of time. With forestry operators, arborists and other service providers supporting the prevention as well as clean-up of bushfires. It is important that contractors engaged by local councils or other authorities to perform this work understand the chain of command, possess knowledge of fire-ground communication systems and protocols, and have skills consistent with a national standard. Operators with the skills to make informed and rapid assessments about tree health and the risks posed by fire affected or fire damaged trees are essential to support both safety and environmental conservation outcomes in bushfire zones.

Thank you to those who provided validation and comment on the final draft units of competency for post-bushfire vegetation clearing and clean-up operations, including chainsaw operations. They were made available on this webpage from 1 – 25 April 2022. The documents and any comments made are available to view below.

Based on your feedback, units of competency were developed to address skills in efficiently communicating during post-bushfire vegetation clearing and clean-up operations and assessing the hazard and health of fire-affected or fire-damaged trees. These skills are critical for ensuring the safety of emergency services and land management personnel engaged in bushfire recovery activities.

In addition, four units for chainsaw operations were revised in response to stakeholder comments that access to several trees per student for skill assessment is no longer practical due to environmental concerns.

Summary of consultation to date

Thank you to those stakeholders who provided feedback on the drafts that were made available from 14 February to 14 March 2022, under the ‘Drafts Available’ stage. During this time, feedback was collected via the online feedback hub, webinars, and phone calls and email. The units were drafted with guidance from Subject Matter Experts, made up of workplace and industry experts.

Key changes as a result of the ‘Drafts Available’ stage include:

  • The draft new tree hazard and health assessment unit was re-coded and re-named as AHCARB6XXX Conduct complex tree hazard and health assessment post-fire to better represent its purpose, which is to conduct a complex assessment of risks, health and values of fire-affected or fire-damaged trees post-early stages of bushfire recovery and recommend an appropriate tree treatment. This unit is intended for professional arborists.
  • An additional new tree hazard assessment unit was drafted in response to stakeholder feedback to address the skills of personnel authorised to perform tree hazard assessment during the early stages of bushfire recovery operations, including those who must institute immediate actions to prevent harm and hazards. This draft unit is FWPFIR4XXX Conduct tree hazard assessment post-fire.
  • The primary and intermediate fell trees units were also adjusted to place greater focus on assessing the skills required to perform the cutting techniques.
  • The definition of felled trees for the trim and cut felled trees unit was clarified.
  • Further details were provided for learners, employers and training providers on the prior experience required to begin the advanced fell trees manually unit.

A description of how feedback has been considered and applied in these final drafts can be downloaded below. Please click the ‘Download Summary of Feedback, Responses and Actions’ button.

Units Made Available for Validation

New unit code and nameLink
FWPFIR3XXX Apply communication protocols during post-bushfire vegetation clearing and clean-up operationsView final draft unit
FWPFIR4XXX Conduct tree hazard assessment post-fireView final draft unit
AHCARB6XXX Conduct complex tree hazard and health assessment post-fireView final draft unit

The draft documents can be downloaded in Microsoft Word format by clicking here

Revised unit code and nameLink
FWPCOT2XXX Trim and cut felled treesView final draft unit
FWPCOT2XXX Fell trees manually (basic)View final draft unit
FWPCOT3XXX Fell trees manually (intermediate)View final draft unit
FWPCOT3XXX Fell trees manually (advanced)View final draft unit

The draft documents can be downloaded in Microsoft Word format by clicking here

 

Subscribe to updates about the project

Subscribe to the Skills Impact newsletter to keep informed about project updates and opportunities to provide input and feedback. Make sure to select ‘Forestry & Timber’ as your industry of interest.

 

Finalisation

This stage has not yet commenced