The VFFA is concerned that the voices of all persons (including our volunteer firefighters) is being muffled at the hands of political influence and manipulation.
How many government inquiries does it take to bring about change?
The issues surrounding turf wars have been around for a long time but those with empires to build don’t wish to discuss options.
A Trigger Point for Change
The NSW Government have never been able to settle upon a trigger point that is used to activate a change in firefighter engagement.
For example: As a rural area develops and the population explodes or major industry is established, it may be appropriate to consider a shift from volunteer to part-time firefighter engagement. Further development may lead to a shift from part-time to full-time engagement.
Expanding the type of firefighter engagement has nothing to do with the level of professionalism, it is all about have a healthy respect for the work that our volunteers do. There comes a time where we are expecting too much. It has been suggested by many volunteers that they are sick of being over used as a type of cheap option for the NSW State Government.
The VFFA is not wanting to see our volunteers tossed away when the trigger point is reached, we see some advantages in developing career path options for these people.
The VFFA is also happy to admit that we don’t have all the answers, but we do promote upfront, open and honest debate on this issue.
VFFA President, Mick Holton discussed the turf wars issue on air with Shoalhaven CBF – Barry, Frenchie, Bec and Chance Hanlon:
What the RFSA has said:
Volunteer Fire Fighters reject calls for “one single fire service”
Wednesday, 21 March 2018
(Click HERE to view on the RFSA web site)
The New South Wales Rural Fire Service Association (RFSA) strongly opposes any plans to establish a single fire-fighting agency and any attempt to affect the volunteer culture of the NSW Rural Fire Service (NSW RFS) through union influence as witnessed in Victoria.
RFSA President Ken Middleton said any attempts to create one fire service in New South Wales would significantly undermine the ability to provide ongoing fire protection to rural communities across the State.
“Under existing co-operative fire-fighting arrangements, there are clearly stated protocols in place for response to incidents within the urban rural interface,” Mr Middleton said.
“These protocols have the agreement of both the NSW RFS and Fire & Rescue NSW (FRNSW).
“In addition The Fire Services Joint Standing Committee (FSJSC) is a Statutory Committee that comprises representatives from the NSW RFS, FRNSW, the RFSA and the Fire Brigade Employees Union (FBEU).
“Through the FSJSC there are specific procedures in place regarding response to incidents within the urban rural interface. Given the joint participation of related fire management agencies and member representatives it is now difficult to understand the push for a single agency.
“Whilst the RFSA supports the announcements of a referral to the Coroner and an independent review, it is adamant that the formation of a single agency would erode volunteer culture and commitment, thereby jeopardising property protection throughout New South Wales.
“This would also lead to a breakdown of local community relationships and support as well as increasing the cost to Government and ultimately the community.
“Our members serve in the world’s largest volunteer fire fighting agency – covering a massive distance from suburban Sydney to the most remote bushland parts of the state.
“They are locals who drop everything during an emergency to assist their communities, saving lives and homes during fire disasters.
“They are some of the most highly skilled and highly trained volunteers in the world, and their efforts are remarkably valuable. In fact, a 2011 report by Deloitte found volunteers provide services to the people of New South Wales and the State Government to the value of $1.3 billion each year.
“We all know why we need volunteers – New South Wales is a huge state with remote and difficult to access bushland areas.
“While we work well alongside FRNSW on a daily basis, we are not the same organisation. Our vehicles, equipment, safety gear, operations and the demands we face are significantly different.
“Combining the firefighting agencies into one single agency would not be practical. Volunteers are from local areas, they make the decisions on the ground because they know the terrain and conditions better than anyone.
“Our volunteers do an amazing job protecting the people of New South Wales. It’s a job they love and volunteer their time to do.
“The RFSA will fight any plans for a ‘single fire service’ and, having heard from members across the state, they too will robustly oppose any plan to change the current system which has a proven record of saving lives.”
Rural Firefighters provide valuable feedback for Independent Review
Tuesday, 17 April 2018
(Click HERE to view on the RFSA web site)
The New South Wales Rural Fire Service Association (RFSA) is thanking rural firefighters across NSW for the feedback that they are providing on the review into the response to the Reedy Swamp fire Bega that occurred on 18 March 2018, and subsequently impacted on the township of Tathra.
RFSA President, Ken Middleton said the feedback received was constructive and would inform the RFSA’s response to the Keelty Commission of Inquiry.
“I want to thank our members for the insights they have provided to us in regards to the review into the recent Bega Valley bush fire,” Mr Middleton said.
“Our members serve in the world’s largest volunteer fire fighting agency and they know their ‘patch’ better than anyone else.
“This means they are best placed to advise on issues impacting their local areas.
“Throughout the feedback it is obvious that NSW RFS members simply want the best for their communities.
“Their comments reinforce our members’ commitment to do whatever needs to be done to ensure the safety of the people of NSW in the most efficient manner possible.”
Middleton said volunteer firefighters are adamant about the importance of maintaining their autonomy and culture, but recognised the opportunity to drive further improvements in service delivery.
“Our members have clearly stated the importance of the NSW RFS remaining an autonomous agency due to its training, specific equipment and volunteer firefighter ethos,” he said.
“But there is also support for driving improvements, such as vehicle tracking as it adds to crew safety.”
Mr Middleton also reiterated the valuable role volunteer firefighters play in keeping NSW safe.
“Our members are locals who will drop everything during an emergency to assist their communities, saving lives and homes during fire disasters.
“They are some of the most highly skilled and highly trained volunteers in the world, and their efforts are remarkably valuable. In fact, a 2011 report by Deloitte found volunteers provide services to the people of New South Wales and the State Government to the value of $1.3 billion each year.”
NSW Rural Fire Service – Operational Brief
The NSW RFS Operational Brief (dated April 2018) seems contradictory.
Paragraph 3 states that the existing arrangements and the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between the fire services does not change but there are changes as detailed in the paragraphs that follow, including:
- Refinements and enhancements to the process of passing triple zero calls
- Responding the nearest resource
- Consideration to timings and capability
Click the pdf icon below to view the NSW RFS Operational Brief.
Your comments are most welcome.