What have we become?

What have we become?

I love the simplicity, culture and attitudes of my local Bushfire Brigade. The members of the Dry Plains Brigade are a practical bunch of rural people that don’t like wasting money and are willing to fix things when they are broken or damaged. All around us, we see a world that is becoming wasteful and items are discarded in place of the newer product.

I love the new stuff as much as anyone else, but I do try to move things along to another user, recycle and reuse wherever possible.

In a stark contrast, the NSW Rural Fire Service and the NSW Government seems to be wasting huge amounts of money on many unnecessary empire building developments including expensive fire suppression strategies. Meanwhile the simple things like accepting and allowing Aboriginal land management practices to be used by communities and Brigades gets kiboshed by red tape. These simple and effective land management practices have the potential to save huge amounts of money and the environment from certain destruction.

I’m not suggesting that we discard new firefighting technologies but we seem to have thrown the baby out with the bathwater, discarding much of the local knowledge, bush skills and practical firefighting skill (formerly referred to as firemanship).

RFS Membership Form Update

RFS Membership Form Update

The new RFS Membership Form has been updated with changes that include:
Section 5, Child Related Activities was updated because the agency responsible is now known as the Office of the Children’s Guardian (formerly known as the Commission for Children and Young People).
Section 8, Applicant Declaration was updated to address the changes in legislation concerning personal information, privacy, child related activites and the Australian Criminal Intelligence Commission’s (ACIC) National Police Checking Service requirements.
Section 9, Parental or Guardian’s Consent was updated with additional information and two check boxes for the parent or guardian to give their consent based on the applicant’s age at the time of joining.
Section 10, Brigade Validation was updated to include a Brigade checklist with three checkboxes to ensure the Nationally Coordinated Criminal History Check/Application and Informed Consent Form has been reviewed and relevant documents have been sighted.
Section 11, Confirmation of Interview was updated with checkboxes for the Brigade to consider the applicant’s suitability for membership.
Section 6, RFSA Membership was updated to fix the tick or cross error (as reported in a recent VFFA web site post).

Bargo’s new Fire Station

Bargo’s new Fire Station

Bargo’s volunteer firefighters finally have a new shed to call home.
The NSW Rural Fire Service, brigade members and dignitaries officially opened the Bargo fire station at 10 Avon Dam Road on Saturday, May 12.
NSW RFS senior assistant commissioner Bruce McDonald said the $1.3 million station was partly funded by the brigade members’ fundraising effort.
The station features four truck bays, clothing racks, a meeting room, office and kitchen. The station is larger than the brigade’s previous site and also features training areas.

Honeybugle Rural Fire Brigade

Honeybugle Rural Fire Brigade

Honeybugle is located on the Pangee Road in the Bogan Shire, central New South Wales. It is approximately 40km from Nyngan and about 460km west-northwest from Sydney.
We visited the crew from the Honeybugle Rural Fire Brigade last year to collect photos for the 2017 VFFA Christmas banner.
The VFFA thanks the members of the Honeybugle Rural Fire Brigade for their hospitality and support.

Karuah Rural Fire Service battles own crumbling shed

BEYOND frustrated with sub-standard conditions Karuah Rural Fire Service has broken ranks in its fight for a new shed.
The acting captain Ken Smee has revealed a long list of problems from structural cracking to flooding and improper facilities for men and women working in close quarters.
“We’ve done everything by the book until now and it’s got us nowhere,” he said.

What are the implications of setting up an independent fire service?

There has been some discussion (even in NSW) about the implications of setting up an independent fire service.

When you look back in time, at the way that the NSW RFS began, it seems to have gone full circle:

1. Neighbours pooling resources and working together to protect themselves and each other from the threat of fire.
2. A larger group of people working together as above but forming a brigade that is supported by local government.
3. A state based organisation working with local governments to support local brigades.
4. The state based organisation builds an empire that looses focus upon the reason they are their in the first place.
5. The state based organisation grows bigger with bureaucracy and over complication clouding their ability to properly serve those local brigades.
6. Local brigades get frustrated.
7. Experienced people often leave.
8. Neighbours consider pooling resources and working together to protect themselves and each other from the threat of fire.

Is Social Media the problem or Lack of Respect?

The NSW Rural Fire Service published a reviewed Service Standard that relates to the use of Social Media on 23 November 2015.
The Social Media Service Standard states that members must not post information on social media which could:
a. be misleading or deceptive;
b. result in bullying, victimisation or harassment;
c. lead to criminal penalty or civil liability;
d. divulge confidential or sensitive information;
e. reasonably be found to be vexatious, offensive, obscene, threatening, abusive, defamatory or culturally insensitive; or
f. be interpreted to be of a commercial or political nature.

Sadly, there are plenty of cases where bullying and inappropriate comments have been made on social media and other electronic media platforms.

Bruie Plains – Cold Drinks, ABBA and Plenty to Sing About

Bruie Plains Brigade, located 26 Kilometres from Trundle (in the Central West) has plenty to sing about…
The Brigade are now the proud owners of two Engel Fridges thanks to Deputy Captain Andrew Rawesthorne and the VFFA.
In an earlier edition of the volunteer fire fighter magazine, we ran a Photo Competition with a prize of $1000 for whatever equipment a brigade needed. The winning photo was submitted by Deputy Captain Andrew Rawesthorne of Bruie Plains Brigade. After consideration, the brigade decided two fridges would be great for their tankers so they no longer had to drink hot water in the field.
What about ABBA?

Rank v Responsibility – Law v Policy

By Michael Eburn
One of our members who was previously not an officer of the brigade gained employment with the RFS and as part of his employment was given a staff rank that outranks any of the officers in the brigade.
This member has since informed us that he also carries that rank into his volunteer time with the brigade and that as a consequence he has to wear his staff rank to jobs with the brigade and if he is unhappy with the way an incident is being run by the brigade he has a legal obligation to take over control of the incident, and that he is the one that will be responsible if something goes wrong as he would be the senior officer on scene.