The Andrews Labor Government has marked another important milestone in the modernisation of our fire services with the appointment of veteran firefighter Ken Block as Victoria’s first Fire Rescue Commissioner.
In another critical step towards a more modern fire service for all Victorians, Mr Block will lead Fire Rescue Victoria with extensive experience in fire rescue and emergency services.
Mr Block has served as a firefighter since 1980 and his appointment follows an extensive international search to find the best candidate for this critical role. He most recently held the position of Chief Fire Officer of the Edmonton Fire Rescue Services in Canada.
Before this, Mr Block worked as Deputy Fire Chief in Edmonton with oversight and responsibility for fire prevention. He was named Canadian Fire Chief of the Year in 2013, received the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Medal the same year and was the recent elected President of the Canadian Association of Fire Chiefs.
In his role as Chief Fire Officer he works closely with the volunteer firefighting agencies in the region.
Mr Block is well regarded and has led significant change in mental health and wellbeing, diversity and building codes and has developed strong, productive relationships with his workforce, the government and other emergency service agencies.
The Labor Government has been working closely with fire agencies and other stakeholders to prepare for the establishment of Fire Rescue Victoria in the middle of next year.
As part of this work, Mr Block will commence with the Department of Justice and Community Safety in February 2020 before transitioning to Fire Rescue Victoria when it officially comes into operation on 1 July.
Fire Rescue Victoria will bring together career firefighters from CFA and MFB under one organisation to lead fire services in metropolitan Melbourne and major regional centres and provide support to our thousands of volunteer firefighters across the state where necessary.
The Labor Government has enshrined in law the modern emergency services our state needs, with the Firefighters’ Presumptive Rights Compensation and Fire Services Legislation Amendment (Reform) Bill passing Parliament earlier this year.
Importantly, the laws provide presumptive rights to cancer compensation for career and volunteer firefighters that have been denied for far too long. This recognises the invaluable service they provide which often requires them to work in inherently dangerous conditions.
As stated by Minister for Police and Emergency Services Lisa Neville
“We said at the last election we would get on and deliver a more modern fire service for all Victorians – and the appointment of Ken Block as Commissioner is another critical step in getting this done.”
“With almost 40 years of firefighting experience, Mr Block has the skills and the distinguished emergency services history to serve the Victorian community and lead the establishment of Fire Rescue Victoria.”
“Our firefighters are the best in the world and we will continue to give them the support they need to deliver the modern fire service that the Victorian community deserve.”