October 26, 2005

Inside this issue:

  • Response Protocol – 257 Stn. Hazmat Van
  • Refreshment allowance at incidents

Response Protocol – 257 Stn. Hazmat Van

The Union’s officials were recently made aware of a memorandum from Zone N5 management headed “Response protocol for 257 hazmat van” and dated 12 November 2004.

Members are advised that the Union’s present position (as reaffirmed by the State Committee of Management on 24 September 2004) is that permanent members at No. 257 Station (and indeed any station) should not staff the hazmat appliance until such time as permanent staffing has been increased to S/O and 5. It follows that the hazmat appliance at 257 Station should only be staffed by retained members, except where there are more than four permanent members available on any particular Special Roster shift, in which case the excess permanent member(s) may then staff the hazmat appliance. In other words, if permanent staffing for a particular shift is S/O and 4 (ie, there’s one permanent firefighter “spare”) then the hazmat van’s staffing for that shift could be 1 permanent and 1 retained.

The Zone memo is also incorrect insofar as it advises that “Two retained firefighters will be required at the station to maintain appropriate staffing levels. This will be paid at fire call rates.” Retained firefighters who stand by at the station in this manner attract the Award’s stand by rate (currently $50.11 per hour).

Finally, the Zone memo states that neither the Station Officer not Captain may respond on the hazmat van as “these officers will be required to maintain their responsibilities as OIC at 257 Station.” Whilst Union policy (as explained above) prevents the Station Officer staffing the hazmat appliance, the Union also sees merit in requiring the Zone’s OIC argument for the Station Officer/Captain. However, as the Captain is not the OIC of the Station whilst the Station Officer is on duty, the Union’s position is that any retained firefighter (including the Captain) may respond on the hazmat van during Special Roster hours only.

Refreshment Allowance at Incidents

The Union’s officials have also become aware of a memorandum from Zone N5 management headed “Refreshment Allowance at Incidents” and dated 5 October 2005.

The Zone memo advises that “if you are at an incident over the two hours but you return to the station under three hours, THEN YOU ARE NOT ENTITLED TO THE [REFRESHMENT] ALLOWANCE, because you can sit down and have a cupper and then restow the appliance.” This narrow reading of the Award is as predictable as it is wrong. Relying on “a cupper” back at the station (where the Department does not even provide the milk) does not get the Zone off the hook – refreshments still fall due after two hours (the hour lee-way under subclause 8.1.2.2 notwithstanding), and those refreshments must either be provided by the Department (at a minimum standard of tea, coffee, milk, sugar and biscuits) or the allowance paid.

The Zone memo concludes with a directive that “When claiming this allowance on miscellaneous voucher you are now instructed to state the incident number so that the Zone management team can verify the claim.” This is also wrong, and in breach of Award clause 8.3 which provides that the allowance is to be paid by the OIC (Station Officer or Captain) “prior to cessation of duty”, or “at  the earliest practicable opportunity after the cessation of duty.” In other words, members are to be paid from petty cash. Members are instructed to ignore management’s direction and to report any difficulty in receiving your Award entitlements to the Union office.

Craig Harris
State Secretary