As expected, the relieving bans which were introduced at 1800 hours last night have resulted in considerable additional overtime being required. However, our Inspector members have struggled (and today were unable) to locate enough off-duty members – both officers and firefighters – who were willing and available to work the required overtime. As a result, No. 85 Stn. Chester Hill was today closed and the remaining on-shift members were sent elsewhere to fill outstanding vacancies.
By way of clarification, no member – relieving or otherwise – should leave their base station whilst relieving bans are in place. If staff shortages cause a Station to fall below safe minimum staffing, then that Station is to go off-line until such time as additional members may be brought in on overtime. The remaining members are, of course, to remain at the station.
Nonetheless, no Station should have to go off-line if the following rules (in order of priority) are followed:
One: Off-duty members who are rostered for recall must call in and make themselves available to work if they are required to do so.
Two: Off-duty members who are not rostered for recall, but who are nonetheless willing to work overtime should contact their Operational Commander by 0745 hours and/or 1745 hours to advice of their availability. Alternatively, off-duty members can contact their own Station and let the oncoming S/O know that they are available. The S/O will then inform the Operational Commander of your availability to work overtime (not just at your Station, but anywhere) if required.
Three: Whilst these relieving bans are on, Station members can (and should) assist their Operational Commanders by attempting to contact the off-shift members of their Station to ascertain their availability for overtime.
Four: Operational Support members (eg Training College, Fire Safety, etc.) not on alternative duties are also permitted to work overtime, and if willing should declare their availability to work weekend shifts (day or night) in accordance with the above point.
Five: There is no reason why members from outside the Sydney Fire District (eg Wollongong, Central Coast and Newcastle) cannot work overtime shifts within Sydney, nor vice-versa.
Six: If there are no permanent members available to work overtime – something which should not happen given that there are between 600 members (one Platoon) and 1200 members (two Platoons) off-duty in Sydney alone at any one point in time – then retained members can and should be brought in on stand-by rates ($43.43 per hour) to fill the permanent vacancies.
Seven: Finally, and if all of the above points fail (which they shouldn’t) then Executive Officer members (ie, Superintendents and above) may and should report in to keep the Station on line.
Your employer is quite happy closing Stations and cutting out overtime. And not just during Union bans, either – they’d do it all the time if we let them. Don’t give them the chance.