December 12, 2007

Hundreds of professional firefighters from around the State have now been called in to assist with storm damage in the Western suburbs of Sydney following a severe hailstorm on Sunday. The Department has now written to the Union seeking agreement to activate Clause 27 of the Retained Firefighters Award “Attendance at Major Emergencies”. This will facilitate the use of firefighters from all parts of the state in helping communities patch up their homes.

This morning alone 60 appliances from Sydney, the Blue Mountains, the Illawarra and the Central Coast were dispatched to the area and many more are expected to follow over the remainder of the week.  Whilst all members are keen to help and assist where possible this help and assistance shouldn’t come at a personal cost to firefighters. Therefore members are to strictly abide by the following instructions.

Roofs

Any member working on a roof is to bound by the WorkCover Authority Code of Practice which states the following:

“All persons involved in work on roofs should be trained to follow systems of work and work practices that enable them to perform their work in a manner that is safe and without risks to health. Only those persons who have received training and instruction should carry out work on roofs”.

Asbestos

Members who are asked to work on substances that they believe may contain asbestos are to refuse to do so until Hazmat members properly trained and equipped for the job are called in to assess the material. The Department has informed the Union that a substantial number of homes in the effected area may have asbestos roofs and that two specialized Hazmat units have been allocated to deal with this work.

Meals

The Union has also received a substantial number of complaints in regard to substandard meals on the incident ground. This issue is not new and the Department has been getting it consistently wrong for a long time. The Department has a clear responsibility to provide a healthy and nutritious meal to members working in excess of four hours. If the Department tries to offer up a half cooked sausage on a slice of bread and claim that it has satisfied its obligations under the Award members are to immediately inform their supervisor – and if required – purchase an adequate meal in the locality and charge the actual expense to Petty
Cash on return to station.

Simon Flynn
State Secretary