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.
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)?
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.
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.
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.
A VFFA Annual General Meeting is being held at the Parkview Hotel, 281 Summer St, Orange NSW on Saturday August 5th, 2017 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 in the Services Club Bistro from 12.30pm to 1.30pm.
The VFFA would love to see our members, supporters and special guests attend this important event.
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.