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.
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.
The Bega Valley Fires Independent Review was commissioned by the NSW State Government in response to public pressure and media interest in the Reedy Swamp Fire that occurred on 18 March 2018, and subsequently impacted on the township of Tathra.
The media reported a long-standing turf war between the two predominant fire services in NSW and the Minister for Police and Emergency Services responded with an announcement that Mr Keelty will be conducting a full review for the government so that we don’t get these questions in the future.
The VFFA welcomes any opportunity to openly and transparently review and debate topics that impact upon public safety and the provision of emergency services to the people of NSW.
This post contains the VFFA response to this review other related documentation.
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.
In the interest of promoting an open and honest debate, the VFFA has decided to publish our submission. We hope that other groups will do the same.
The VFFA is somewhat disappointed in the way that this inquiry has been handled as follows:
1. The timeframes for groups to make submissions was very short and rushed
2. The information regarding the review was not actively promoted by the NSW State Government, and
3. What is happening with the referral of this fire to the Coroner?
One could be excused for thinking that the NSW State Government just wants these problems to go away, particularly with an election just around the corner.
The VFFA is promoting open debate from all persons involved. This includes the NSW Rural Fire Service (RFS), Fire and Rescue NSW (FRNSW), NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS), Forestry Corporation of NSW, the Rural Fire Service Association (RFSA), the Volunteer Fire Fighters Association (VFFA), the Fire Brigades Employees Union (FBEU), the insurance companies and most importantly, the firefighters (from all fire services) and the public of NSW.
Click the Read More link to see the VFFA submission.
March 21, 2018
Reedy Swamp, Bega (Tathra Fire)
The Tathra Fire was a terrible tragedy for all involved. The Volunteer Fire Fighters Association (VFFA) has decided to publish the following 6 points in response to the media generated interest.
1. Firefighters did a good job
The firefighters did a great job, but they can only do so much on a bad day.
2. Less Fuel equals Less Fire
A lot of fuel on a bad day is a recipe for disaster. This situation will only get worse if we don’t change our approach to land management.
Hazard reduction in NSW deals with approximately 1% of bush fire prone land each year (that’s 100 years of work to get the job done). Bush fire scientists (the likes of Phil Cheney) state that we should be treating more like 8% of bush fire prone land annually.
Less fuel will result in lower intensity fires (less fire). Proper land management is vital to protecting the environment, animals, human lives, our property and our way of life. Big fires can destroy everything in their path, but the right fire can prevent the destruction…
Mr Grant has announced an independent investigation into the callout procedures for bushfires, in the wake of the blaze that destroyed 69 homes on the south coast.
Questions are being raised about the responsibilities of, and competition between, the Rural Fire Service and Fire and Rescue New South Wales.
The RFS declined two offers of assistance before the fire jumped the Bega River and tore through the seaside town.
Several people within Fire and Rescue NSW have told Alan a “turf war” between the two organisations has been putting people’s homes and lives at risk for decades.
Emergency Services Minister Troy Grant tells Alan he won’t be taking action until an independent investigation looks into the matter.
“The RFS Commissioner has already referred this fire to the Coroner… why is that a problem?
“The working relationship between the two, I don’t think has been better for years.”
Alan, “You’re kidding me. You are a disappointment Troy, you’re miles off the pace!
“If you were returning to a home that had been burnt to the ground and you’d lost everything, you’d want a better response than Troy Grant has given me today.”
Listen to the explosive interview in full…