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.
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.
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.
Are modern firefighting agencies inciting fear as a method of risk management rather than applying appropriate risk control measures?
Fear is a powerful tool, it sells newspapers, keeps the television ratings alive, gives our radio stations some great material to talk about and it helps to drive campaigns to increase public spending on reactive and expensive firefighting strategies that we simply cannot afford.
Image if we could return to a situation where our local firefighters looked after their own patch without the red tape associated with hazard reduction. Image how nice it would be if our land management practices were returned to a commonsense and balanced approach that our Indigenous Australians, farmers and graziers have used in the past.
Instead of cooking the guts out of the country, we could see improved forest health and reduced risk to our native animals and the bush that we love so much.
Instead, we see another story that warns us of a bleak bushfire outlook. There is no mention of the massive fuel loads that are the root cause of this problem.
The Constitution of the NSW Volunteers Firefighters Association has been reviewed in line with the Associations Incorporation Act 2009. Draft reviews commencing in 2016 and were available for download (on the VFFA web site) during the review process.
The new constitution was adopted on Saturday the 10th February this year (2018) at the Executive meeting held at the Cottage Point RFB station. It has been lodged and registered with Fair Trading NSW and is now in effect.
The Constitution of the NSW Volunteers Firefighters Association will remain available for download on the VFFA web site.
Many volunteers took part in last year’s national Volunteer Welfare and Efficiency Survey, and the NSW Rural Fire Service Association (RFSA) is inviting NSW RFS members to once again participate in the 2018 survey.
The annual survey began with the CFA volunteers’ association, Volunteer Fire Brigades Victoria (VFBV) five years ago, and now for the third year, VFBV is hosting a version on behalf of RFSA. Once again the survey is available to volunteer fire associations through the Council of Australian Volunteer Fire Associations (CAVFA).
As I pursue my passion for bushfire safety I am frequently confronted by people who live in bushfire-prone residential situations but who make no preparations for fire. When I ask why, they say that they are not worried. “If a fire comes, I will simply evacuate” they say, “and if the house burns, I have insurance and will just rebuild”. This philosophy is usually based on the fear that preparing for bushfires (especially fuel reduction in bushland) means “destroying the environment”.
Several things have not been thought-through…
The recent bushfires in NSW are not in “mid winter”, where they occurred as suggested by many.
The bushfire season in mid-NSW always starts earlier than in southern Australia, with bushfires around Sydney and in the Blue Mountains historically occurring at this time of the year.
People forget how far north Sydney is (latitude), being closer to a sub-tropical than a temperate climate.
Every year when there are bushfires around Sydney in August or Sept, the cry goes out “Climate Change! Bushfires in mid-winter!”, while history and climatic zones are ignored.
On page 20 of the textbook, Bush Fire Control in Australia (1961), there is an excellent map of Australia showing the bushfire seasons. South-eastern Qld and central coastal NSW are clearly shown as having an occasional August / September fire season start.
It is worth noting that the weather varies from year to year, the diagram shows the average situation.
When you take notice of the date that this textbook was published (well over 50 years ago), these fires are nothing new. The intensity of the fires is increasing because of fuel loads and the drought in NSW will impact upon bushfire conditions.
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.
Questions Raised by our Readers
It has been suggested that the further away from the coast you live, this less important you are to the NSW State Government.
This suggestion is supported with the following questions:
1. Why did it take so long to begin the process of providing drought relief to the farmers of NSW?
2. Why are we still waiting for an investigation into the Sir Ivan (Dunedoo / Cassilis area) fire that occurred in November 2017?
3. Why have we not seen any changes to land management practices and fire trail development by the NSW State Government since the Upper House inquiry into the Wambelong fire?
On a more positive note, the NSW State Government should be congratulated for the quicker responses to the Tathra Fire inquiry and their support of the recovery process BUT… there actions appear to be driven by a range of factors including:
1. media interest
2. perceptions of what constitutes an asset. Is it bricks and mortar or livestock, fences and fodder?
3. an election just around the corner, or
4. all of the above.
The VFFA is constantly pushing the NSW Government, in particular the NSW RURAL Fire Service to restore it’s focus upon rural and regional NSW.
This does not mean that other areas need to suffer, but the service must undergo major reform to ensure that all people in NSW are afforded the same level of treatment.