On 18 August 1997 the Manager Operational Personnel released a memorandum to all NSWFB staff regarding entitlements for staff in attendance at the Thredbo Snowfields incident. The memorandum simply stated that “the provisions of the respective awards apply”, but did not specify how these entitlements applied.
Prior to the release of this memorandum, the Union was involved in detailed negotiations with the Department regarding the application of the negotiated award entitlements.
For the benefit of retained members, the Union provides the following information regarding the relevant provisions and their application in this particular instance:
Retained firefighters are entitled to payment of the appropriate rate for the first hour of attendance at the incident and the appropriate half‑hourly rate for every half hour thereafter. As per any incident, the period of attendance at Thredbo is determined by the time entries recorded in the station occurrence book.
Retained firefighter Smith left the fire station to which he is attached on Friday at 1000 hours. Smith then returned from Thredbo and arrived back at his fire station at 1000 hours on the following Monday. Smith is therefore entitled to 72 hours pay (24 hours x 3 days). This would be claimed as 1 hour ~ $15.83 (entitlement code F) and 142 half hours ~ $7.92 (entitlement code H), which equates to a total claim of $1140.47.
Any firefighter who utilised their own private transport to attend Thredbo is entitled to claim the kilometre allowance of $0.68 per kilometre for every kilometre reasonably and necessarily travelled, in accordance with subclause 9.1 of the Award.
Members who were transported in another member’s vehicle or in transport provided by the Department are not entitled to claim the kilometre allowance.
Travelling Compensation Provisions
Since all travelling was be conducted within paid time, and accommodation and meals were provided, the only relevant component of the Travelling Compensation provisions relate to the Incidentals Allowance. Members may claim the allowance of $8.80 set at Item 5 of Table 2 of the Award per day.
Where accommodation and food was not provided to members, such members should contact the Union Office for information on how to submit claims pursuant to Clause 19 of the Award.
Brigades Standing By at Thredbo Fire Station
The Union understands that some members were required to stand by at Thredbo Fire Station in the days following the completion of the search and rescue operation. Where members stood by at the fire station, such members shall have the same entitlements as above, but may only claim the incident rate(s) for the time spent at the fire station (or in attendance at incidents).
The negotiated entitlements for Retained firefighters attending Thredbo are essentially straightforward. Members who have further questions should contact Iain Bailey at the Union Office on (02) 9267‑5552.