Update – Inquiry into emergency services agencies

Mick Holton, Brian Williams and Neil Crawley represented the VFFA on Monday, 18 September 2017 before the Portfolio Committee No. 4 – Legal Affairs Inquiry into Emergency Services Agencies.

A transcript of the proceeding is available as an uncorrected proof for anyone who may be interested in following the progress of this inquiry.

Putting the RURAL back into the RFS – Petition

Putting the RURAL back into the RFS – Petition

The objective of this campaign is to decentralise the operations, logistic and training sections of the New South Wales Rural Fire Service (RFS) Head Office to country New South Wales, west of the Blue Mountains.

The existing plans to build a new RFS Head Office in Greater Sydney could easily be modified to create a State Emergency Operations Centre that is badged as such (with a State Government Logo) and used by all emergency service agencies.

Inquiry hears of bullying, nepotism in RFS

Inquiry hears of bullying, nepotism in RFS

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.

Some parallels with WA

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”

See us at Henty Machinery Field Days (site 54a)

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.

Headquarters does not put fires out

Headquarters does not put fires out

Mr Grant forgot one simple fact. The NSW RFS headquarters does not put the fires out.
Firefighters (full time, part time and volunteer) put the fires out.

The Hon. Philip Donato (Orange) asks the question (directed to the Minister for Police, and Minister for Emergency Services) “In light of the recent announcement on the new Rural Fire Service training facility in Dubbo, will the Minister now reconsider the relocation of the entire Rural Fire Service headquarters to the Central West?”

NSW Rural Fire Service announces $9 million Centre for Excellence

NSW Rural Fire Service announces $9 million Centre for Excellence

The announcement to build a Centre of Excellence in Dubbo is a victory for the people of Dubbo, the VFFA, all volunteers, regional and rural people of NSW.

This news is certainly a step in the right direction as it will pave the way for increased regional and rural influence in the RFS Learning and Development Directorate.

The VFFA congratulates MP Troy Grant, Dubbo Regional Council, NSW RFS Commissioner Shane Fitzsimmons and NSW RFS Deputy Commissioner Rob Rogers for this commitment but does it goes far enough? The VFFA believes that a much larger chunk of the NSW Rural Fire Service, if not all, needs to be decentralised.

Emergency services leaders meet

Emergency services leaders meet

Enough talking, it’s time to listen.

After the 2003 Canberra fires, Mr Gary Nairn, MP stated that the House of Representatives, Select Committee heard a consistent message right around Australia:

1. There has been grossly inadequate hazard reduction burning on public lands for far too long.
2. Local knowledge and experience is being ignored by an increasingly top-heavy bureaucracy.
3. When accessing the source of fires, volunteers are fed up with having their lives put at risk by fire trails that are blocked and left without maintenance.
4. There is a reluctance by state agencies to aggressively attack bushfires when they first start, thus enabling the fires to build in intensity and making them harder to control, and
5. Better communications between and within relevant agencies is long overdue.

Very little has changed in the 13 years since the report by Mr Nairn with every increasing bureaucracy, disregard for volunteer firefighters, failures to engage local knowledge and a reluctance by state agencies to aggressively attack bushfires. In fact, the situation has become worse.

It goes without saying that a step in the right direction would be to re-engage with locals and move away from the city-centric management that will never be able to fully understand regional and rural issues.

The only people who can possibly understand regional and rural issues are regional and rural people. This is a no-brainer.

We need to decentralise all of the NSW Rural Fire Service so that regional and rural engagement begins to happen as it once did under local government support.

Inquiry into Emergency Services Agencies close on 23rd July 2017

Inquiry into Emergency Services Agencies close on 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.