A volunteer with Victoria’s Country Fire Authority wrote and asked:

As a qualified CFA volunteer, is my vehicle/myself insured at fire through the CFA? I found the answer was yes but need it in writing again to be sure.

The answer in short, is ‘yes’. The long answer might turn on the actual meaning of insured, but I won’t explore that, rather I’ll justify my short answer.

The Country Fire Authority Regulations 2004 (Vic) provide for compensation for CFA members. Regulation or section 76 says:

(1) If a member, in the course of, or arising out of, performing service as a member-
(a) suffers a personal injury; or
(b) suffers destruction, damage or loss of-
(i) wearing apparel or personal effects worn while performing the service; or
(ii) a motor vehicle, equipment or property (other than aircraft) owned by, or in the possession of, the member and used in the performance of the service-
the member is entitled to compensation.

The amount of compensation for property damage is “the amount the Authority considers reasonable” (s 77). Where the member is entitled to recover from an insurance policy or other source, the Authority only has to make up the financial loss after that claim, in short you have to claim on your own policies first and the Authority will make up any shortfall or financial loss that is not covered by the policy.

In determining the amount to be paid for personal injuries, the Authority is to “give consideration to” the provisions in the Accident Compensation Act 1985 (Vic) “in so far as they are not inconsistent with these Regulations” so they are meant to give compensation in the same manner as the 1985 compensation Act but if there is an inconsistency between the Accident Compensation Act 1985 (Vic) and the Country Fire Authority Regulations 2004 (Vic), then the Country Fire Authority Regulations 2004 (Vic) prevail whether that provides for more, or less, compensation.

Where a member claims compensation from the Authority and also sues someone else for the same injuries, they must repay the compensation paid by the authority, or a proportion of that amount if the damages received are less than the compensation paid by the Authority. If the member sues the Authority then any damages that the Authority has to pay are reduced by the amount already paid as compensation (s 78).

None of that is the same as being ‘insured’ but it does provide that the Authority is to compensate its members but it there is to be no double compensation so if the member can and does get compensation from another source, the obligation of the authority is reduced.

Michael Eburn
21 April 2013