Stories of Fatigue – Part 1


We have decided to share stories of fatigue to highlight the importance of fatigue management.

It is important to remember that we all have a responsibility to assist with the management of fatigue. If you feel that yourself or your crew are at risk, you need too speak up and a solution must to be found.

Solutions might include:

  1. Giving plenty of notice that your crew needs a break or needs to go home.
  2. Calling in some support to assist with driving the crew and the appliance back to your brigade station.
  3. Arranging some accommodation.

A Guide for Managing the Risk of Fatigue at Work is available from Safe Work Australia.

It states:

Officers (section 27)

Officers such as company directors, must exercise due diligence to ensure the business or undertaking complies with its work health and safety duties. This includes taking reasonable steps to ensure the business or undertaking has and uses appropriate resources and processes to manage the risks associated with fatigue.

Workers (section 28)

Workers must take reasonable care for their own health and safety and must not adversely affect the health and safety of other persons. Workers must also comply with any reasonable instruction and cooperate with any reasonable policy or procedure relating to fatigue at the workplace, such as policies on fitness for work or second jobs.

Workers’ duties in relation to fatigue do not mean they must never work extra hours. However, they should talk to their manager or supervisor to let them know when they are fatigued. They should also avoid working additional hours and undertaking safety critical tasks when they know it is likely they are fatigued.

Recent Correspondance

Jan 2018

  • A Strike Team was sent from (name suppressed).
  • The strike team had been available (at their brigade stations) since 12 midday.
  • It was estimated that most of the crew would have been awake since 0700hrs.
  • It took approx. 1 hour 45 minutes to drive from (name suppressed) to a staging area.
  • Upon arrival, crews waited while information was gathered.
  • Crews were provided with water and snack packs.
  • They were sent to the fire ground on an evening shift.
  • The Strike Team was stood down at 0300hrs.
  • They drove back to (name suppressed).
  • It would be fair to say that the crew members had been awake for almost 24 hours.

Remember the incident with the Belrose Tanker

On the 24th of January 2014, a Belrose tanker was returning to the Perthville Base Camp outside Bathurst after completing a night shift on the Section 44, Hell’s Hole Fire. The crew was operational for 26 hours from leaving the Warringah Fire Control Centre (FCC), with only 2 1/2 hours rest.

At about 0930hrs, the Belrose tanker was involved in a single vehicle rollover for reasons officially unknown (fatigue most likely) with four RFS crew members aboard. They were admitted to Bathurst hospital by ambulance with a number of injuries. Three were released after being examined by a doctor. The fourth member was kept in hospital (due to his injuries) and released later that same day.

Do you have a similar story?

We are hearing stories of frustrated firefighters who are deployed, only to sit around without doing much (sometimes without doing anything). This in itself is tiring.

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