November 22, 1997

  • This dispute is NOT about one member, it is about principles which affect ALL members: job-security, fitness testing, off-duty injury & superannuation.
  • It DOES affect both permanent and retained members.
  • The Dept., through the BMO, continues to refuse to return a member to firefighting duties after a workers compensation injury – not because of that injury, but because the employer now alleges him to be “obese”.
  • The member has been forced onto sick leave, which will expire shortly.
  • He will then be forced onto social security.
  • The Dept. will not restart the member until he has dropped to 100kg, which it expects will take more than six months. He is more than 6 feet tall!
  • The Dept. insists it is a “medical condition” – not fitness – but will return him to firefighting duties if he reaches 9.6 on the shuttle run – a fitness test!
  • The member has been an active firefighter for nine years and is only 7kg heavier than when the Dept. first employed him. Both his doctor and the GIO doctor judged him fit to return to firefighting duties – the BMO disagrees.
  • If the Dept. defeats our Union in this dispute, ANY member could be deemed to be suffering from a “medical condition” and put off on their own sick leave.
  • Below is a working example of a permanent member under First State Super:

QF Smith joined NSWFB in 1992. He is 38 years old with a dependant spouse and 2 children. His current pay is $771.16 (gross)/week.

Example 1:    QF Smith terminated – not fit to carry out the duties of a firefighter

Superannuation:                      $0.00

Workers Comp.:                     $0.00

Social Security:                       $145.45 (married rate)

Family Allowance:                   $96.00

$241.45 (less tax)/week

Example 1:    QF Smith crippled on the job – never work anywhere, ever again

Superannuation:                      $29 000 (one-off lump sum)

Workers Comp.:                     $440.30

Social Security:                       $298.80 – Disability pension (married rate)

Family Allowance:                   $96.00

$536.30 (less tax)/week

The Commissioner’s “Duty of Care” clearly doesn’t extend to injured or otherwise unfit firefighters, who will be driven into poverty by this latest attack.

  • There are currently three different superannuation schemes operating for NSWFB firefighters – SSF, SASS and FSS:

Scope of Coverage

Partial And Permanent Invalidity  (PPI)

Incapable of performing the duties of a firefighter

Total and Permanent Invalidity (TPI)

Incapable of ever working again, anywhere





15 December 1992-Present

  • Cover not automatic.
  • Members must elect to be covered.
  • $5 per month: $60 per year.
  • No benefit exists.
  • “One off” lump sum maximum $50,000 (decreases rapidly with age).
  • Displaces age retirement benefit.






1 July 1985 – 15 December 1992

  • Automatic cover for basic benefit (PPI)
  • Members must “opt in” for “additional benefit cover” (TPI).
  • Costs about $4 per month: $48 per year (depending on years service and rank).
  • “One off” lump sum.
  • Slightly greater than the resignation benefit, about $75,000.
  • Displaces age retirement benefit.
  • “One off” lump sum roughly same as what member would receive as age retirement benefit, about $250,000.
  • Displaces age retirement benefit.





1916-30 June 1985

  • Automatic cover.
  • Pension at full rate applicable to normal retirement benefit.
  • Option at 60 to continue with pension or commute to lump sum.
  • Does not displace age retirement benefit.
  • Pension at full rate applicable to normal retirement benefit.
  • Option at 60 to continue with pension or commute to lump sum.
  • Does not displace age retirement benefit.
    • How can the Commissioner’s “Duty of Care” allow firefighters – who work for the same employer, doing same job, who go to the same fire and who are injured by the same brick wall – receive such wildly different compensation?
    • Every year 100 or so permanent SSF members retire, and they are replaced by 100 FSS members – “cut-rate” firefighters who have little or no protection.

The Dept. has provoked this dispute because it wants to start weeding out light-duties firefighters, off-duty injury firefighters and generally speaking, anyone and everyone who management thinks is “dead wood”. Fat? Over 40? Bad knees? How’s your hearing? Thankyou for your 20 years, there’s the door and there’s the dole. The Commissioner has not hidden his desire to see the current 3% per year staff turnover lifted to 11% or 15%. If you seriously think this dispute is about one overweight retained firefighter’s “medical condition”, it’s time you started thinking again. THEY STARTED IT, WE’LL FINISH IT – STAY UNITED!

Chris Read



Recent news: