Firefighter response times slowed after cyber attack

A crippling cyber attack on Victoria's professional fire service slowed efforts to reach time-critical blazes but it insists no lives or property were lost in the fallout.

Fire Rescue Victoria (FRV) fell victim to a cyber attack in December 2022, with the hack exposing sensitive information and impacting its IT and communication systems.

A briefing note prepared for Emergency Services Minister Jaclyn Symes, provided to the opposition under freedom of information laws and seen by AAP, reveals its automatic station turn-out system was not restored until August 2023.

Crews were instead dispatched through manual processes such as pagers, mobile phones and radios, increasing the time it took firefighters to leave their stations.

"Public information provided by FRV following the cyber attack stated 'community safety has not been compromised', which may be viewed as at odds with the decline in response time performance," the briefing document states.

FRV's benchmark is to respond to 90 per cent of structure fires within seven minutes and 42 seconds.

The Fire Services Implementation Monitor reported response times were 6.87 per cent lower in April, May and June of 2023, compared to the same quarter 12 months earlier.

They were also 4.3 per cent below the annual average for 2021/2022.

In a statement, the fire service said the time taken for crews to arrive after leaving the station remained constant despite reverting to the manual system.

"There was no evidence of loss of life or property caused by the impact of the cyber attack," an FRV spokesman said.

But opposition emergency services spokesman Richard Riordan said the government must explain why the community was misled about the impact and duration of the cyber attack.

"Victorians were told community safety would not be compromised following this attack, yet with response times having fallen as a consequence, this claim is simply wrong," he said.

There was no risk to public safety stemming from FRV reverting to back-up systems, a Victorian government spokeswoman said.

"Neither the Fire Services Implementation Monitor nor FRV have identified any negative impact on community safety because of the incident," she said.

Separately, the United Firefighters Union is calling for a public inquiry after firefighters allegedly entered a burning home in Melbourne's west overnight without water.

Panicked callers described the Truganina house as being fully alight late on Thursday, with the blaze threatening nearby homes before crews quickly brought it under control.

The water pump on a truck with a history of faults failed on arrival but firefighters entered the building instead of waiting for a back-up option on the back of advice children were inside, the union claims.

FRV said all four occupants were able to "self-evacuate" but the union suggested a man was removed and taken to hospital after suffering burns to his airway and arms.

Incident logs indicated there were no reports of equipment faults but FRV confirmed it was investigating a potential issue with a pumper.

Union secretary Peter Marshall said the incident demonstrated FRV's fleet is in a state of disrepair amid its long-running pay dispute with the service.

"We are now calling for an immediate inquiry into the state of Victoria's firefighting resources," he said.

Victorian minister Vicki Ward said the Allan government had invested in new fire stations and trucks, and she hadn't previously heard of the issue being raised by Mr Marshall.

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