This letter was sent by the RFS Commissioner, Mr Shane Fitzsimmons to Peter Cannon on the 29th February 2012. This letter was in response to the concerns that the VFFA has expressed relating to the impact of the Work Health and Safety Act 2011 (NSW) on Volunteers.
The VFFA is very pleased to see that the NSW State Government has created separate Police and Emergency Services portfolios and we would like to congratulate the two Ministers as they embark upon the management of their respective roles.
I listened to you speaking on the ABC yesterday (3rd Jan 2014), in which you attributed the recent bushfires in the Adelaide Hills to global warming/climate change. At the same time, I observe that southern Australia has always experienced hot,…
Volunteer Firefighter Recruitment and Retention The NSW Rural Fire Service (NSWRFS) currently boasts a volunteer membership of 70,000 members made up of active fire fighters, communication and catering personnel and other support roles. There has been much debate recently within…
Well I must say that the Commissioner must be unaware of the requirements of the WHS Act in relation to consultation and more to the point the determining of workgroups and the election of Health and Safety Representatives.
Whilst the commissioner talks about their commitment to the WHS Act, the RFS has stalled the request and election of HSRs in the Industrial Relations Commission stopping volunteers from this support mechanism yet at the same time consulting with the Public Service Association for HSRs for over 12 months.
The wasted monies to both RFS and SafeWork in the court matter and ultimately the taxed public is irresponsible. I estimate that both agencies would have spent around $80k each in the matter to stop the requirements of the Act and the volunteers having HSRs.
If the service was so committed to WHS why has it taken so long to get systems in place to comply with the Act. The Act commenced in 2012 and now in 2016 we are still waiting for compliance.
The majority of service standards reference to old OHS act and so does the commissioner in his letter.
The service standard for consultation and HSRs has been produced without the requirements of the Act and regulation Cl 17 being that workers must be consulted in determining workgroups. The RFS has determined that 49 workgroups which will mean that there will be 49 HSRs. Did the workers agree to this? Were you consulted?
The other fire agency in NSW has 147 HSRs that’s a ration of 1:150 workers were as the RFS is proposing a ratio of 1:1530. Is this reasonable? Have thy determined workgroups? Why are the workgroups, the district, head office and SMSS.
Workgroups are areas of operation such as District staff, Brigades(fire fighters), brigades(support, comms), Raft, Mitigation workers, Logistics personnel, FI, Air base, contractors, and many others.
The current consultation system that staff are meant to monitor, MyRFS is not consultation and many volunteers will not visit due to system failures.
It is a shame that the RFS has not kept up with the times and maybe change is required.