The VFFA is concerned that in NSW volunteer rural fire-fighters who are subject to disciplinary action and who lodge grievances against paid staff have no option than to place faith in a system that is owned, controlled and arbitrated by the RFS.
Under the NSW Rural Fires Regulation 1997 a member of a rural fire brigade can be guilty of a breach of discipline if they are negligent, careless, inefficient or incompetent in the discharge of their duties. Hence the grounds for bringing discipline charges against a volunteer rural fire fighter are very broad, poorly defined and wide open to interpretation.
Volunteers and auxiliary firefighters with all major fire services across Australia were invited by the Council of Australian Volunteer Fire Associations (CAVFA) to participate in a nationwide survey that takes volunteer opinions and advice direct to Government and Emergency Management sector decision makers.
A VFFA Annual General Meeting is being held at the Parkes Services Club on Saturday August 6th, 2016 from 10.00am to 11:00am.
It will be followed by an ordinary meeting from 11.30am to 5.00pm at the same venue with a lunch break in the Services Club Bistro from 12.30pm to 1.30pm.
The VFFA is deeply concerned at the current turmoil facing Volunteer fire fighters in the Victorian Country Fire Authority (CFA). Their 60,000 Volunteers are the backbone of the CFA, they contribute an enormous amount.
Have volunteers lost control of local firefighting?
Who has experienced this type of behaviour on the fire ground?
Is bullying and harassment going on in the RFS?
Has anyone been directly impacted either personally or knows someone?
Have we lost experienced and long standing volunteers as a result of the bullying?
How do we rectify this problem?
The RFSA is sitting on $9,788,262 (ref: NSW RFSA Annual Financial Report – 31 March 2015).
This article poses the question “what is the RFSA doing with all that money?” and looks at the fund raising activities of the RFSA.
There has been many occasions where the VFFA has been approached by the public with questions on fundraising activities. The VFFA has informed those people that we do not conduct telephone based fund raising therefore it must be an RFSA call centre.
When you get that phone call requesting support for Rural Brigades, how much of your money gets there?
The NSW Rural Fire Service published a reviewed Service Standard that relates to the use of Social Media on 23 November 2015.
The Social Media Service Standard states that members must not post information on social media which could:
a. be misleading or deceptive;
b. result in bullying, victimisation or harassment;
c. lead to criminal penalty or civil liability;
d. divulge confidential or sensitive information;
e. reasonably be found to be vexatious, offensive, obscene, threatening, abusive, defamatory or culturally insensitive; or
f. be interpreted to be of a commercial or political nature.
Sadly, there are plenty of cases where bullying and inappropriate comments have been made on social media and other electronic media platforms.
A recent case was presented by a current RFS Volunteer to a VFFA Executive Meeting and it showed the utter frustration of a Volunteer being injured on the fire ground. The Volunteer’s injury was an ongoing one and over the years the RFS had accepted every medical certificate from the treating doctor allowing the Volunteer to go on the fire line with restrictions in place as per the certificates, Work Cover also accepted the certificates. The Volunteer recently needed to have surgery which had the Volunteer requiring four months of work. Although the Volunteer was entitled to workers compensation payments, there was still quite a significant short fall compared to their regular income.
Michael Eburn says that he is asked this question by a NSW volunteer and jumps to a quick conclusion – lights and sirens don’t give you any rights.
The question was: I was told other vehicles must give way to emergency vehicles when under lights and sirens but I’ve also been told that if you’re under lights and sirens it does not give you the right-of-way. Of course you have to take care at all times but I’m interested in know what rights does the driver of an emergency services vehicles under lights and sirens have.
Only three months into the job and Emergency Services Minister David Elliott has upset some of the very people he is in the post to represent.
Volunteer firefighters along with landowners who lost property and farm animals in the Wambelong Fire on “Black Sunday” in January 2013 say they are insulted by comments made by the minister at a recent conference.
Image: Martin Lill, son of stud farmer Stephen Lill, who lost more than 200 stud cattle in the fire. Photo: Jacky Ghossein