Hot cell training banned

October 13, 2006

All members are hereby directed that no member is to be involved with Hot Fire Cell Training until further notice. This ban is applicable across the state and is to remain in place until officially lifted by the Union.

In what is now becoming a depressingly familiar scenario the Union holds grave concerns that members may yet again have been exposed to carcinogenic substances in the course of Departmental drill and training exercises. The latest threat to member’s health and safety concerns toxic substances and pathogens emitted from particle board while it is used in Compartment Based Fire Training (CBFT)

While the Department was quick to leap on the concept of live fire training and readily embraced the CBFT system as a cheap and easily utilised model, it appears the Department may not have properly considered the consequences for members. Putting aside the concerns expressed about having members roasted in makeshift ovens, very little if any serious thought appears to have been put into the very real risk that members may suffer a build up of toxins such as formaldehyde, hydrogen cyanide and nitrogen by-products known to be emitted from burning particle board.

Every permanent operational and many retained firefighters including Commissioner Mullins have now been exposed to the CBFT regime with the Department proposing to roll out a second stage of the system across the state. The Union has recently been informed that at least one member of the training college staff has raised levels of formaldehyde and that in the absence of a legitimate and systemic control process the extent of contamination amongst firefighters is yet to be established.

The Union has now written to the Department seeking an urgent briefing on what exactly the Department does know and what it proposes to do to ensure that no firefighter is placed in a situation that might have serious long term health consequences due to training. In order to avoid the pointless and totally unnecessary delays members faced in regards to the Holsworthy asbestos scandal earlier this year the Union has also lodged a Freedom of Information request seeking detailed information in respect of formaldehyde and the CBFT regime being operated by the Department.

Members should rest assured that no stone will be left unturned in getting to the bottom of the story as far as this matter is concerned. Our job is a dirty and dangerous one at the best of times and the Union will not sit idly by whilst members are unnecessarily placed in situations that may not manifest themselves for many years to come

Simon Flynn

State Secretary