2018 Volunteer Welfare and Efficiency Survey – NSW RFSA

2018 Volunteer Welfare and Efficiency Survey – NSW RFSA

Many volunteers took part in last year’s national Volunteer Welfare and Efficiency Survey, and the NSW Rural Fire Service Association (RFSA) is inviting NSW RFS members to once again participate in the 2018 survey.

The annual survey began with the CFA volunteers’ association, Volunteer Fire Brigades Victoria (VFBV) five years ago, and now for the third year, VFBV is hosting a version on behalf of RFSA. Once again the survey is available to volunteer fire associations through the Council of Australian Volunteer Fire Associations (CAVFA).

VFFA AGM and Ordinary Meeting – Sat 4th August 2018

VFFA AGM and Ordinary Meeting – Sat 4th August 2018

A VFFA Annual General Meeting is being held at the Parkview Hotel, 281 Summer St, Orange NSW on Saturday August 4th, 2018 from 10.00am to 11:00am.
It will be followed by an ordinary meeting from 11.00am to 5.00pm at the same venue with a lunch break from 12.30pm to 1.30pm.
The VFFA would love to see our members, supporters and special guests attend this important event.

VFFA President talks to Graeme Gilbert (2SM Super Radio Network) about RFS Reform

The media has become interested in the need for major reform after the release of the NSW Upper House report, entitled Emergency Services Agencies NSW.
The audio file (below) was captured on Wednesday 25th July, by a VFFA supporter as he listened to an interview with the VFFA President, Mick Holton by Graeme Gilbert of the 2SM Super Radio Network.
Mr Gilbert gave our association approximately twenty eight minutes of air time.
The 2SM Super Radio Network broadcasts across Sydney, many rural and regional areas of NSW.
Comments and feedback are most welcome.
The audio file is provided is this post.

VFFA response to the NSW Upper House Inquiry into Bullying and Harassment in the NSW Emergency Services

VFFA response to the NSW Upper House Inquiry into Bullying and Harassment in the NSW Emergency Services

The Volunteer Fire Fighters Association (VFFA) President Mick Holton says he is encouraged by the release of the NSW Upper House report, entitled Emergency Services Agencies NSW.

The report focused heavily upon bullying and harassment in the NSW Emergency Services.

“The report confirms what many NSW Rural Fire Service (RFS) volunteers have known for a long time – that bullying, harassment and abuse of power is occurring in the RFS” said Mr. Holton.

“The VFFA recognises the courage of RFS volunteers and salaried staff in coming forward and working with the Portfolio Committee No. 4 – Legal Affairs, during this Upper House inquiry.”

“Volunteering with the RFS should be non-threatening, respectful, safe and free from all forms of bullying and harassment.”

“All volunteers have the right not to bullied or discriminated against in the RFS” said Mr. Holton.

“We are pleased to continue to lead and to participate in efforts to support volunteers who have suffered bullying and harassment in the RFS and will continue to challenge and call out this unacceptable behaviour,” said Mr. Holton.

The VFFA welcomes the release of the report and calls on NSW Government and the RFS to adopt all the recommendations of the Upper House Inquiry into Emergency Service Agencies.

Major Reform is Required.

Helping the RFSA obtain an Informed and Accurate View

Helping the RFSA obtain an Informed and Accurate View

The VFFA is pleased to learn that the NSW Rural Fire Service Association (RFSA) is seeking active participation from Brigade / RFSA membership in presenting an informed and accurate presentation of the current state of the NSW Rural Fire Service (NSW RFS) to the Keelty Commission of Inquiry.

It is important to the VFFA that Mr Keelty obtains an accurate, open and transparent view from ALL firefighters and members of the public.

Please respond to this campaign quickly because the submissions are required before Wednesday, 11th April 2018.

We have provided a link that can be used to submit your views to all three of the following recipients:

1. The Minister for Emergency Services (troy.grant@parliament.nsw.gov.au)
2. NSW Rural Fire Service Association (submissions@rfsa.org.au)
3. Volunteer Fire Fighters Association (feedback@volunteerfirefighters.org.au)

NSW RFS Volunteers at Risk of Prosecution without Support or Assistance

NSW RFS Volunteers at Risk of Prosecution without Support or Assistance

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.

Appropriate Duty of Care or Over-Complication?

Appropriate Duty of Care or Over-Complication?

A volunteer sent us an email and a document that was circulated from a Fire Control Centre recently. We have decided to share this information in a quest to discover if this Tick Insect Bite Pro Forma documentation is widespread and are there other injury specific forms in use.

The Tick Insect Bite Pro Forma is dated August 2016 and the document control states that it is version 1.3.

The questions being asked on the form are:

1. Was insect repellent containing Picaridin (e.g. Johnson ‘OFF!’ repellent) available to the injured member on the day of injury? If yes, did the injured member apply the repellent before commencing work and reapply as necessary during work?
2. On the day of injury did the Supervisor remind the injured member that repellent MUST be applied prior to work, then reapplied at regular intervals (particularly when sweating)?
3. When the tick was found was the removal undertaken by a competent first aider and can you confirm that the whole tick was removed (i.e. No head left behind)? If more than one tick, specify number of ticks.
4. What part(s) of the body were bitten by the tick(s)?
5. Has the injured member had any medical complications from the tick bite(s)?

What is the volunteer perception of this form?

We cannot respond to anonymous requests

We cannot respond to anonymous requests

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.

Rural Fire Service faces accusations of bullying and nepotism

Rural Fire Service faces accusations of bullying and nepotism

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”.

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.