Draft Grievance Service Standards for Comment

The following Draft Service Standards are currently out for consultation and members are encouraged to provide feedback.
The VFFA is sharing this material to help provide the widest circulation possible.
Send you feedback or enquiries by email to feedback.standards@rfs.nsw.gov.au or provide your feedback via the MyRFS forums.
1. Consultation Draft Service Standard 1.1.3 – Notice of Grievance Form.
2. Consultation Draft Service Standard 1.1.3 Grievances v3.0

RFS Volunteer Fire Fighter Discipline Procedures in Need of Reform

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.

Out-Sourcing of First Aid

This post raises several concerns, the foremost being the proposal that the cost of attending an outsourced first aid course be borne by the Brigade(s).
The following questions have been posted:
Does the NSW RFS desire to have as many members as possible qualified in first aid?
Is the proposal for Brigades of the NSW RFS to meet costs for outsourced courses approved or sanctioned by the NSW RFS?
Is there a proposal for the costs of other courses such as chainsaw being covered by Brigades and/or individual members?
Was the issue discussed with volunteer training groups and if so what was the outcome?

RFS Response to Volunteer’s Conviction for Fatal Traffic Accident

Associate Professor, Dr Michael Eburn (PhD), provides advice on his Australian Emergency Law blog.

1. A service such as the RFS should have a clear policy of when ‘response’ driving is permitted. It should be when a faster response is likely to significantly improve the outcome and is it necessary to save life, property or the environment. That will require consideration of the nature of the call, time of day, traffic environment etc. It may be appropriate for a first responder to a triple zero call to respond under lights and sirens, but once the service is ‘on scene’ the incident controller needs to consider whether an ‘urgent’ response will make a significant difference to the outcome.

2. The faster response must be necessary, not merely convenient.

3. When the criteria to justify response driving is not met, drivers must drive in accordance with the Australian Road Rules as adopted in your state/territory.

4. The fundamental obligation on all drivers is not to crash. Crashing an emergency service vehicle creates another emergency, delays the response to the first event and causes more trauma. People may die in floods, fires and other events but more people die in car accidents. Drivers should be reminded that no matter what they are responding to, the most important objective is not to crash.

Use of U-Turn Facilities and Cross-Overs

Service members are directed that crossover points or emergency U-turn bays on motorways or highways are not to be used. This applies to incident responses and normal traffic conditions, and even where a cross-over point is marked for use by emergency services.

NSW RFS vehicles should travel to the next exit ramp or point on the motorway and re-enter the roadway.

The only exceptions to this should be where a road is closed or operating under controlled conditions, such as traffic is being directed by police.

What are your thoughts on this?

RFS volunteer exercising rights as a ‘worker’ – By Michael Eburn

The decision here is certainly giving effect to the principle that a volunteer is a worker and enjoys the rights and privileges once only given to employees. Regardless of the merits of Mr Bryant’s claims, he is certainly committed and dedicated and willing to put his money and his effort into what he must see as the best interest of the RFS and its workforce.