In a Rural Fire Service Association (RFSA) newsletter (issue 39), the RFSA President was responding to the recommendations after the NSW Upper House Committee inquiring into the Wambelong Fire.
He stated: Most concerning was the suggestion, perceived or otherwise, of a disconnect between NSW RFS fire ground management and volunteer members.
This disconnect is experienced at many levels and by many volunteers. You only have to ask around and you will find many operational and non-operational examples.
It is also worth noting that the suggestion of a disconnect between NSW RFS fire ground management and volunteer members is based upon submissions made by people, including many volunteers.
Don’t take our word for it, click HERE have a look for yourself.
Even in day-to-day business, the RFS has failed to recognise the importance of working with the locals.
A great example is in the area of purchasing goods and services.
Because the RFS is being forced by government policy to make purchases through contracted suppliers, the connection to local business is being eroded.
RFS District used to buy tyres from Joe Bloggs Tyre Service.
Joe is also a volunteer firefighter when he is not fitting tyres.
RFS District informs Joe that they now have to buy from Tyres Are Us on a State Government contract.
Imagine how Joe feels when they then ask him to leave his business to help out as a firefighter.
Joe continues to assist the RFS because he is committed to his local area.
Then… at the next big fire, they need Joe’s help “hey Joe, can you us repair a truck tyre in the field?”
Joe does so because again he is committed to his local area.
There are many examples like the one (above), volunteers like Joe are not impressed with the disconnect that has developed over time.
Surely there can be some exceptions made so that these government policies can be flexible enough to suit local engagement.