On Wednesday 6th December 2017, a day after International Volunteer Day, a Sydney based Volunteer Firefighter was convicted of dangerous driving in a Local Court case that was heard over three days. The Volunteer was charged by the NSW Police some months after the Police attended a Hazard Reduction Burn.
The Police attended following a phone call from a paid staff member of the NSW Rural Fire Service (the RFS) reporting an alleged incident. The volunteer was on route to the fire station to assist with a pre-planned hazard reduction burn. The matter was reported to the Police without the RFS taking any steps to investigate the allegations internally, or to even hear the Volunteer’s account of the event.
Legal costs to protect the good name of this Volunteer are now in the tens’ of thousands of dollars and the Volunteer Firefighter was sentenced and ordered to pay a $750 fine and had his license suspended for a 12-month period The legal proceedings have been underway for approximately 14 months, they have taken an incredible toll on the volunteer, his family and brigade.
The Volunteer has not received any support or communication from the NSW RFS.
It is very important that we inform our readers that information provided by anonymous persons is noted and followed up where possible, but the level of support and assistance could be limited if we are unable to correspond with people who remain anonymous to the VFFA.
The privacy of our members, volunteers and whistle-blowers will always be treated as the highest priority when dealing with information provided.
With the state already facing “extreme” bushfire risks with hot and dry weather, a parliamentary inquiry has heard of allegations of bullying and nepotism within the Rural Fire Service. The hearing was told by vice-president of the Volunteer Fire Fighters Association that the community could no longer be protected.
At the public Emergency Services Agency hearing, chaired by Shooters and Fishers’ Robert Borsak, RFS Commissioner Shane Fitzsimmons was quizzed by Greens member David Shoebridge after it was revealed 48 per cent of RFS members had witnessed bullying while 18 per cent had been victims of bullying and that “only two people have been dismissed because of it”.
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.
VFFA President, Mick Holton had a chat about bullying and harassment with the Shoalhaven FnB Team.
The most important date to remember is the closing date, get your submissions in before the 23rd July 2017.
This post includes a VFFA video that was created to help promote the NSW Legislative Council, Upper House Committee inquiry into Emergency Services Agencies.
Submissions close on the 23rd July 2017.
This inquiry is not limited the the RFS. It is looking at bullying, harassment and discrimination in all emergency service agencies as well as relocation of the NSW RFS head office or Headquarters to a regional location.
Radio 2UUU morning host, Barry Mac talks to the Hon. Robert Borsak MLC (Shooters Fishers and Farmers Party) about the inquiry into and report on emergency services agencies with a focus upon:
1. Bullying, harassment and discrimination
2. Support structures in place to assist victims
3. Support services available to emergency services workers and volunteers with related mental health issues
4. The appropriateness of uniforms provided to personnel in emergency services agencies
5. The relocation of the New South Wales Rural Fire Services Headquarters to Orange, Dubbo or Parkes
Submissions close on the 23rd July 2017
Please don’t remain silent, the VFFA is prepared to assist where possible and we have been assured that a range of protective measures can be applied if you are worried about retribution.
Members of the Central Coast District were advised via email on Friday 26th May that the RFS has no stocks of current PPC and if new members require gear they will have to beg or borrow PPC from other members.