Parks Cuts – Volunteers Expected to Pick up the Slack

Parks Cuts – Volunteers Expected to Pick up the Slack

There are many examples of how the NSW Government is cutting back services and expecting our volunteers to pick up the slack.

The lack of Ambulance Officers in some rural areas creates a situation where our volunteers are too often, required to drive the Ambulance to emergency medical care, whilst the paid officer tends to the patient. Most volunteers are happy to provide support from time to time, but there comes a point in time that these expectations become unreasonable.

The same could be said for the restructure of the NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS).

The NPWS claims that the cuts and restructure has not impacted upon the service’s firefighting capacity, but the VFFA is receiving a very different story from many NPWS staff. They say that a large number of very experienced NPWS firefighters have left the service and the restructure has not always replaced those people with a comparable experience base.

It has been suggested that the NSW Government is cashing in on the good will of NSW Volunteers (not limited to firefighting).

The NSW Government needs to be reminded that volunteers are a valuable resource that must be respected, not abused.

Past (and New) VFFA Political Relationships

Past (and New) VFFA Political Relationships

Dear VFFA Members and Supporters
The VFFA has maintained an apolitical approach with a desire to work with any political party that best represents the needs of our volunteer members.
We are witnessing a massive shift away from the major political parties and I would encourage you to consider your vote in the next State Election very carefully to ensure that your needs are being properly addressed by your political representative.
This letter (post) is written to inform you of some political history surrounding your Association.

Emergency Services Legislation Amendment Bill 2018

The Emergency Services Legislation Amendment Bill 2018 is being debated by the Legislative Assembly. It is an Act to make miscellaneous amendments to various Acts that relate to emergency services and associated matters.
Some members have expressed concerns about this Bill.
Rather than publish those concerns at this time, we are asking that our readers consult the Bill and submit comments as posts or emails to our Executive Council.

The Sky’s the Limit – It’s a Different Story if you need a Shed

The Sky’s the Limit – It’s a Different Story if you need a Shed

Are we Forgetting Something?
There is no disputing that aviation plays a vital role in our firefighting capability, but is the state government spending too much time and taxpayers money developing RFS capability whilst they are neglecting the simple principles of mitigation, early detection and suppression using their vast network of volunteer firefighters on the ground.
When it comes to fire suppression, the VFFA is not convinced that large fixed wing aircraft are the answer. We do support using smaller fixed wing aircraft and helicopters for transportation of remote area fire teams (RAFT) and to support ground crews with aerial suppression activities.
With reference to fixed wing aircraft, it should be noted that a fire retardant drop using a DC10 (Very Large Air Tanker – VLAT) costs us $45,000 per drop. Operation of helicopters for firefighting activities is significantly cheaper.
Whilst we acknowledge that this helicopter aquisition has the potential to enhance the states remote area response reach and capability, but we must not neglect the resources that we already have.
It has also been suggested that the money could have been invested into fire towers and early detection systems that have the potential to alert firefighters of a fire before it becomes too large.

Farmers Deserve Better

Farmers Deserve Better

Farmers in NSW are facing the worst drought in decades and our Government is doing nothing about it. 
The time for listening and touring is over. 
NSW Farmers have spoken – they want:
Legislated drought assistance. 
Reinstate freight subsidies for farmers. 
Drought prevention programs and infrastructure like sheds, silos and stock fodder bunkers. 
SIGN and SHARE this petition to send a message to the NSW Government that farmers deserve better.

VFFA President’s takes on the Deputy Premier

VFFA President’s takes on the Deputy Premier

The Shooters Fishers and Farmers Party announced the campaign of their candidate for the Monaro electorate, Mick Holton yesterday (4th June) in Queanbeyan .
The electorate is currently held by National Party leader John Barilaro on a slim margin, and Mr Holton says that locals deserve better.
“What I keep hearing from people across this electorate is that ever since John Barilaro became National Party leader after the Orange by-election he just stopped listening,” Mr Holton said.
“Mr Barilro promised change, but like National Party leaders before him, he just does whatever the city Liberals tell him to do.”

Being Upfront and Open about Turf Wars

Being Upfront and Open about Turf Wars

The VFFA is concerned that the voices of all persons (including our volunteer firefighters) is being muffled at the hands of political influence and manipulation.
How many government inquiries does it take to bring about change?
The issues surrounding turf wars have been around for a long time but those with empires to build don’t wish to discuss options.
A Trigger Point for Change – The NSW Government have never been able to settle upon a trigger point that is used to activate a change in firefighter engagement.
The NSW RFS Operational Brief seems contradictory and is included in this post.

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.

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”

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.