Developing a data conceptual framework for CFA

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CFA undertakes a wide range of activities related to the prevention of fire and response to fire and other emergencies, and the protection of life and property. These activities, consistent with its vision and mission, are generally focussed on the question “What do we do?” rather than answering the questions “What are we achieving?” and “How can we improve?” This change in focus can be described as an “outcomes-based” approach where it is understood that the activity CFA undertakes is not the only influence on outcomes and that it is also important to understand the broader context of the full range of factors impacting on an outcome (Data Management Proposal, Country Fire Authority 2012a). Moving to an outcomes-based approach involves identifying and measuring high level outcomes against which strategic targets can be set; understanding the chain of causality leading to fire events, and to death, injury and property damage once an event has occurred; and identifying the structures that support production of results-focused programs and services.

A critical aspect of implementing an outcomes-based approach involves the collection of high quality and reliable data and information. The CFA document Data Management Proposal (Country Fire Authority 2012a) described a lack of quality data and information on key outcomes such as fire fatalities, injuries and property damage, a lack of clear responsibilities around data improvement and a culture of managing data for individual area rather than organisational needs. It was concluded that this meant CFA was not in a position where it could readily rely on organisational data to know how it is performing, or have a reliable evidence-base to inform decision making or to develop policy to improve performance. CFA is not a data poor organisation and significant resources are devoted to collecting data across areas of CFA’s business. The Data Management Proposal (Country Fire Authority 2012a) notes that a large number of staff, systems, technical know-how, processes and reports are focussed on these activities. However harnessing these efforts in a strategic and coordinated way requires a cultural shift from data management practices focused on individual area needs to one focussed on the needs of the broader organisation.

A case study undertaken by CFA on performance management and moving to an outcomes-based approach (Country Fire Authority 2012b) explained that historically, data and information collection at CFA has focused on activity mainly around fire response, whereas a focus on outcomes-based performance is currently considered best practice. Shifting to an outcomes-based approach represents moving from a reactive model of data management where practices have been adopted in an ad hoc and uncoordinated way to meet individual area needs and specific requirements, to a proactive approach that puts CFA’s broader strategic objectives at the forefront. This requires an organised and comprehensive approach to data collection and analysis and a forward vision as to the types of data that will be required to facilitate the best possible strategy and policy development to support the full range of activities that CFA undertakes and what it is expected to achieve by the public, government and legislation.

Recent work undertaken as part of the CFA Monash Injury Research Institute (MIRI) collaboration focussing on performance measurement within the CFA (Monash Injury Research Institute 2014) noted the lack of an organisation-wide framework underpinning the rationale for the use and collection of data. In particular, it was recommended that a data conceptual framework be developed to underpin CFA’s organisational data requirements. Establishment of a data conceptual framework defines the scope and content of strategic data that CFA should collect in moving towards an outcomes-based approach. Long-term implementation of the framework would lead to comprehensive and integrated organisation-wide data collection that would ultimately provide CFA with the evidence to undertake performance measurement and monitoring; inform strategy development and target setting; evaluate program effectiveness and develop appropriate policy and programs through a better understanding of the drivers of key outcomes.

The objective of this project was to develop a data conceptual framework for CFA that will identify requirements for organisation-wide data collection of strategic data to support an alignment towards an outcomes-based approach.

In order to fulfil the stated objective, the following tasks were undertaken:

• Development of a data conceptual framework for defining the scope and content of strategic data and information the CFA should collect to support an alignment towards an outcomes-based approach;

• Review of existing CFA strategic data and information and other data relevant to CFA;

• Demonstration of how strategic data requirements can be identified from the data conceptual framework; and

• Documentation of key recommendations and requirements for moving from the current situation to a more comprehensive and strategic approach to data.

Original languageEnglish
Commissioning bodyCountry Fire Authority (CFA) (Victoria)
Number of pages86
Publication statusPublished - 2015


  • Prevention
  • Safety

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