THE Rural Fire Service (RFS) has lost touch with its regional roots, and volunteers who have spoken against the bureaucracy have faced bullying and harassment, including election interference at a brigade level, a parliamentary inquiry into the emergency services has been told.
A number of politicians on both sides have expressed their concerns about the possibility that New South Wales Rural Fire Service volunteers and Victorian Country Fire Authority volunteers could be dismissed because of their work to protect communities in trouble.
This post shares two resources to assist volunteers and their employers.
A core sample taken from a remote Tasmanian island suggests Aboriginal people were using fire management on the island at least 41,000 years ago, experts have said.
The findings by a joint project involving the Tasmanian Aboriginal Centre (TAC) and scientists could provide insight into how people adapted to changing climates.
The TAC invited fire ecologist David Bowman and Australian National University natural history professor Simon Haberle to lungtalanana/Clark Island in Bass Strait to conduct research after it was ravaged by fire in 2014.
They took a core sample from a lake on the island which contained charcoal and pollen.
From that they were able to reconstruct the island’s fire history by determining how often vegetation had burnt over thousands of years.
There are many common problems that volunteer firefighters face in an Australia wide context.
One issue that has been raised by the VFFA is the need for the NSW State Government to look at the rural culture that has been eroded by city-centric RURAL Fire Service management.
This media content is being shared to highlight the parallels that exist with our WA counterparts.
“Whilst you’ve got a city-centric department running a state-wide business you’re always going to have this conflict”
The 2017 Volunteer Welfare and Efficiency Survey is now open to all NSW RFS volunteers.
The survey will run until 16th October 2017.
The VFBV Volunteer Welfare and Efficiency Survey is an annual snapshot of volunteer opinion, which includes 33 questions on issues chosen by volunteers. Last year a record number of volunteers completed the survey and over 7,000 volunteers took part across the interstate surveys. Your comments are confidential, but the results go straight to the decision makers.
The survey will take 10 – 15 minutes to complete and is open until close of business 16 October 2017.
The survey continues to be an important and reliable method to capture the views of volunteers and track what has been achieved and is improving, as well as addressing areas that are the cause of dissatisfaction for volunteers.
Note: This survey is hosted by the VFBV and RFSA (NSW). The VFFA supports any initiative that promotes consultation with volunteers.
In Mr Eburns’ post:
1. Mr Eburn can’t say whether there has been any, or adequate consultation on the establishment of workgroups.
2. The fact that Mr Eburns’ correspondent does not ‘believe that 49 HSRs are sufficient nor does this represent the different work groups’ is irrelevant. The question is ‘has the establishment of the workgroups been arrived at in consultation, and by agreement, with the workers?’
3. The process for the RFS to conduct elections of HSRs appears to Mr Eburn to be inconsistent with the Act. It is up to each workgroup to determine how HSRs will be elected.
4. Without a detailed examination, the Service Standard looks broadly consistent with the Act and Regulation (with the exception of the election of HSR representatives discussed at (3), above) noting that if there is an inconsistency, the Act and/or Regulation will prevail.
5. Mr Eburn does not see any issue with respect to a perceived ‘lack of urgency’ in the resolution of health and safety issues.
Of course if there has not been proper consultation on the establishment of workgroups and the health and safety consultation arrangements then that is another matter. The model of the Act anticipates that resolution of health and safety issues, including the processes for consultation and resolution, will be subject to cooperative negotiation between the PCBU and its workers. If that has not occurred the PCBU’s policy, no matter how comprehensive and otherwise in line with Act, fails at the first hurdle. As noted, Mr Eburn cannot say whether or not there has been adequate consultation on the preparation of this service standard.
The Volunteer Fire Fighters Association (VFFA) has secured a site at the Henty Machinery Field Days. The focus of our presence at Henty will be to “Put the RURAL back into the Rural Fire Service”.
Our site will feature a couple of tanker trailers in an effort to create some discussion upon the need for the State government to formally recognise the firefighting capability that farmers bring to the table.
“Water doesn’t put out a fire, the crews do,” the anonymous pilot wrote. “Large aircraft such as what you have read about in this article take crews off the fire lines, sit helicopters on the ground for hours and stop precious production and critical gains,” the pilot wrote. “[The Bomber’s] water comes out at a force which sends embers out and start spot fires.”
“[The water bombing method] loosens ground, blows over trees creating hazards and ruins guards put in by crews.”
An extra (totally bias) round of applause to Gordon Hill. Those who know Gordon, also know that he wears many hats and he is dedicated to his volunteer service.
There is another, very active NSW RFS member in that group of worthy recipients. He is not representing the NSW RFS for the awards but, like Gordon, he wears many hats.
Who will be the first to point him out?