Over recent years, many members have expressed their concern to us about the Brigades’ changing approach – and growing addiction – to AFA charges. The Department’s increasingly inflexible approach saw a growing number of elderly, poor and disadvantaged being hit by blanket fines for AFA’s which were often beyond their control. Management’s decision to remove the Station Commander’s discretion on whether or not to charge suddenly saw the pensioner who burnt her toast being slapped with the same $250 AFA charge that the corporations copped for skimping on their installation’s servicing regime.
There were other problems that we raised too, like the overseas tourists who were being slugged with a $1,000 fine and their hotel trousering the $750 difference between that and the $250 AFA charge for “administration charges”!
Ongoing Union agitation in recent years on behalf of the community has resulted in revised, simplified stop codes which also returned a degree of discretion to members on whether or not to charge being published in In Orders. After many months of negotiation, disputation and the assistance of the Industrial Relations Commission, we’ve also been able to reach agreement for the re-introduction of FANS in a form that meets the standard set by the State Committee’s resolution of November 2006:
“That whilst holding ongoing concerns over both the effectiveness and appropriateness of the current charging regime for repeat AFA false alarms, State Committee acknowledges that through the provision of an appropriate FANS form, FBEU members may be able to help save many members of the community from wrongly incurring AFA charges and as such, this meeting resolves to lift the Union’s ban on the completion by members of FANS forms provided that the Department first agrees to amend those forms so as to make it crystal clear to general members of the public:
1. the grounds upon which someone can be charged;
2.the amount of the charge itself (ie, $250) so as to discourage price gouging by third parties; and
3. the steps required to appeal a charge once it has been levied.”
Accordingly, the Union’s bans on FANS forms are hereby lifted, effective immediately and members may now complete and issue the new, agreed FANS that were recently distributed to all stations.