VFFA President talks to Graeme Gilbert (2SM Super Radio Network) about RFS Reform

The media has become interested in the need for major reform after the release of the NSW Upper House report, entitled Emergency Services Agencies NSW.
The audio file (below) was captured on Wednesday 25th July, by a VFFA supporter as he listened to an interview with the VFFA President, Mick Holton by Graeme Gilbert of the 2SM Super Radio Network.
Mr Gilbert gave our association approximately twenty eight minutes of air time.
The 2SM Super Radio Network broadcasts across Sydney, many rural and regional areas of NSW.
Comments and feedback are most welcome.
The audio file is provided is this post.

VFFA response to the NSW Upper House Inquiry into Bullying and Harassment in the NSW Emergency Services

VFFA response to the NSW Upper House Inquiry into Bullying and Harassment in the NSW Emergency Services

The Volunteer Fire Fighters Association (VFFA) President Mick Holton says he is encouraged by the release of the NSW Upper House report, entitled Emergency Services Agencies NSW.

The report focused heavily upon bullying and harassment in the NSW Emergency Services.

“The report confirms what many NSW Rural Fire Service (RFS) volunteers have known for a long time – that bullying, harassment and abuse of power is occurring in the RFS” said Mr. Holton.

“The VFFA recognises the courage of RFS volunteers and salaried staff in coming forward and working with the Portfolio Committee No. 4 – Legal Affairs, during this Upper House inquiry.”

“Volunteering with the RFS should be non-threatening, respectful, safe and free from all forms of bullying and harassment.”

“All volunteers have the right not to bullied or discriminated against in the RFS” said Mr. Holton.

“We are pleased to continue to lead and to participate in efforts to support volunteers who have suffered bullying and harassment in the RFS and will continue to challenge and call out this unacceptable behaviour,” said Mr. Holton.

The VFFA welcomes the release of the report and calls on NSW Government and the RFS to adopt all the recommendations of the Upper House Inquiry into Emergency Service Agencies.

Major Reform is Required.

Inquiry hears of bullying, nepotism in RFS

Inquiry hears of bullying, nepotism in RFS

THE Rural Fire Service (RFS) has lost touch with its regional roots, and volunteers who have spoken against the bureaucracy have faced bullying and harassment, including election interference at a brigade level, a parliamentary inquiry into the emergency services has been told.

The future of volunteering in fire and emergency services (Australia wide)

The future of volunteering in fire and emergency services (Australia wide)

A newsletter (from the Association of Volunteer Bush Fire Brigades WA Inc) clearly highlights that volunteer firefighters in Western Australia are endangered unless radical changes to the existing city-centric management occur. The VFFA continues to campaign to protect the future of volunteer firefighters in New South Wales from the same demise.

The decline of the NSW Rural Fire Service (RFS) has been documented in their own financial reports.

… our diverse volunteer family needs specialist understanding and better support… something that a city-centric, para-military bureaucracy simply can not deliver.

Put the RURAL back into the Rural Fire Service.

How do we stop volunteer emergency service workers quitting?

How do we stop volunteer emergency service workers quitting?

When the question “How do we stop volunteer emergency service workers quitting?” is asked, many volunteers will respond with “listen more and dictate less”

The NSW RFS Annual Report for 2014 / 2015 stated that there was a total of 74,516 volunteers.

The NSW RFS Annual Report for 2015 / 2016 (one year later) stated that there was a total of 73,162 volunteers.

This is a reduction of 1354 volunteers.

Although this decline was recorded in the NSW RFS Annual Reports, the VFFA believes that the total number of actively engaged NSW RFS Volunteers is grossly overstated.

Volunteer firefighters in many rural areas of NSW are distancing themselves from the bureaucracy and many farmers are choosing to “do their own thing” as we see an increase in “freelance firefighting” in rural areas.

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.

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.