Category: Putting the RURAL back into the RFS

Hero in the sky?

The VFFA says that the real heroes are the men and women on the fireground.

Unfortunately, the NSW Government and the NSW Rural Fire Service is relying upon aviation as our saviour when it comes to wildfire suppression.

The truth is that we cannot afford to continue along this path.

We must improve our land management practices, including cool (cultural or ecological) burning, to reduce the frequency and intensity of fires. This will eventually negate the need for large air tankers.

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Farmers told its not too late to prepare for fire season

This podcast was published on the 2GB network on the 9th November 2018.
Drought this year is expected to deliver catastrophic bushfire conditions.
Just out from the start of Summer, rural property owners are being reminded it’s not too late to start preparing.
Rural reporter Eddie Summerfield caught up with New South Wales Farmers Conservation Committee member Mitchell Clapham.
WARNING: Fire service bureaucrats are warned that this podcast may contain simple and common sense solutions.

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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.

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Winner Winner – A Henty Grinner

The VFFA, management and staff at Ecocrackenback congratulate the prize winner, Lyn Martin of Bethanga. Lyn (with family or friends) will be heading off on a Summer adventure, staying at Ecocrackenback in the beautiful Snowy Mountains.

The Ecocrackenback property consists of 18 luxuriously appointed ‘habitats’ nestled amongst the snow gums on 40 acres along Alpine Way close to Jindabyne and Alpine NSW.

Henty 2018, has been a winner all-round with some great opportunities to meet with Rural Fire Service Volunteers, talk to the public and continue to build our strength as an association that represents a large number of volunteer firefighters across NSW.

Another potential winner is the environment, as the VFFA continues to promote the advantages of cultural and ecological burning practices.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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Demolition moves RFS training centre closer to construction

This news article appeared in the Daily Liberal on February 2nd 2018. It is clear that the Lets put the RURAL back into the Rural Fire Service campaign is beginning to bear fruit.
Congratulations to Mayor, Ben Shields for his support.
Progress is being made on the construction of a Rural Fire Service training facility.
Dubbo Regional Council has awarded a tender for the demolition of buildings at Dubbo City Regional Airport where the training facility will be constructed.
The centre will provide specialist training in areas such as incident management, road crash rescue and fire investigation, as well as member induction training.
With a 30-year lease agreement in place, it is fair to say that the flow-on effects will be felt in the local economy well into the future, says Mayor Ben Shields.

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Private Fire Appliances

Tankers trailers, slip-ons and other privately owned fire appliances must be recognised by the NSW State Government as viable firefighting capability. Unfortunately, there are many reported instances in NSW, where farmers have been prevented from using their own equipment and have been isolated from their properties by unnecessary (according to local knowledge) Police road blocks.

This post includes an embedded CFA video and comments by Michael Eburn.

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