May 15, 2018

Inside this issue:

  • FRNSW Plus Plan launched
  • Fitness Drill update
  • DISC profiling is voluntary
  • Recalls and kilometres – update #4
  • 2018 REX set for 24 July

FRNSW Plus Plan launched

Key points:

  • Plus Plan supported, but …
  • MFR not agreed and will be opposed without extra pay

Commissioner Baxter and his Executive Leadership Team today launched their new “Plus Plan” for FRNSW, which the Union’s State Committee broadly supports as a positive initiative to raise the profile of FRNSW and its firefighters and how we are perceived by Government and the wider community (see SitReps 40/17 and 5/18). That’s the positive part.

While the reworked logo is a mixture of old and new and will help differentiate professional firefighters from other services, the replacement of the “&” with a “+” is about much more than simply a new badge. The Plus Plan sees FRNSW expanding its current roles in firefighting, rescue, hazmat and prevention to include new but unclear counter terrorism and humanitarian relief roles and, of course, medical response.

It’s about new roles, new training and additional work for FRNSW firefighters, but without any mention of new allowances or additional pay for these extra skills and work. That’s the bad part. They expect you to do all of this extra training and work for free.

It is important for members to understand that none of this has been discussed with us, let alone agreed to. That includes new stickers (see below) that the Department has ordered for the pocket shutters of appliances, which members will be instructed to remove or cover up if management proceeds to roll them out without our agreement. The Union’s officials remain willing and available to discuss these new roles, but we will not be ignored and/or worked around and FBEU members will not be taking on any of this extra work without extra pay.

Fitness Drill update

Key points:

  • Fitness drill problems sorted, now OK
  • Does not need to be done with full crew/station – you decide when to do it, and who with
  • Drill does not replace regular retained drill program, or count for authorised duties

Further negotiations on the annual fitness drill have led to agreement on all outstanding matters, with next week’s Commissioner’s Orders 9/2018 expected to include the agreed arrangements.

The main sticking point back in March was the Department’s requirement that firefighters complete and sign a Pre-activity Readiness Questionnaire (PAR Q) before undertaking the fitness drill. It has now been agreed that while members will still need to complete the PAR Q, you will no longer be expected to sign and/or submit it to the Department. It has also been agreed that members will no longer need to complete the PAR Q once they have undertaken their first health check, and therefore entered the periodic review cycle.

As previously advised, members on a shift or at a station do not all need to undertake the fitness drill at the same time. Provided that doing the drill does not interfere with station operations and that there is at least one other firefighter available to assist you (and for retained members, that it is not Easter Sunday or an additional public holiday when penalty rates apply), then you are free to choose the date and time of your fitness drill each calendar year.

The annual fitness drill is not part of, and should not be performed in lieu of, the retained Station Drill Program, or as part of the station’s Authorised Duties quota. The Union was careful when negotiating the D&D Award to argue for the insertion of the following wording:

The annual fitness drill for retained firefighters will be considered and paid for as if it is a regular drill provided that attendance at the fitness drill will not count towards the 75% regular drill attendance requirement of subclause 28.1.2 and will be additional to the two regular drills per station, per month provision of subclause 6.5.2.2.

This means a minimum payment of 2 hours per member (the drill should not take longer than one hour per member), which should be entered and paid via SMART.

Finally, while the agreed fitness drill is now compulsory, it is a drill, not a pass/fail assessment. The objective of the drill is to enable firefighters to enhance their personal understanding of their functional capacity as it relates to their role as a firefighter. Members are not required to perform the drill in front of their colleagues or supervising officers, and may refuse to do so if asked.

The periodic health checks remain on track to commence in July, with the remaining outstanding issues around the health check process expected to be finalised by the IRC next week. More then.

DISC profiling is voluntary

DISC profiling is (according to the Department) “a tool that allows firefighters to gain insight into their behavioural preferences which can then help predict their behaviour towards others in everyday activities”. If that sounds like your bag and your zone offers it to you then you are welcome to participate, but participation is voluntary so you can also say no. Any member told otherwise should decline and contact the Union asap.

Recalls and kilometres – update #4

There has been nothing from the Department since our last update in SitRep 12, with the only development being that members are now reporting not being paid any recall kilometres at all! The next SitRep on this issue will either confirm that all outstanding payments have been made, or that bans have been implemented.

2018 REX set for 24 July

Midday on Tuesday 24 July has been confirmed as the time date for the fourth Rex Threlfo Annual Toast, rounding off the platoons with 2018 being D Platoon’s turn to be on shift. Further details on venue and ticket sales to follow shortly.

Mick Nairn
President and Acting State Secretary

For a print version of this SITREP click here.