The bottom line on traffic infringements
April 4, 2008
As members are probably aware, the media has today widely reported on the farcical situation regarding traffic infringements that the Union first brought to members’ attention in our notice of 20 March.
Despite receiving a copy of our notice at the time, the Department did nothing to address the problem over the intervening fortnight. And today, rather than putting its hands up, accepting that it got it wrong and agreeing to fix the problem, the Department instead spent the day trying to convince anyone who’ll listen that this ridiculous situation is OUR fault!
Like the issue itself, this pathetic attempt at blame shifting from management would probably be funny if it was not so serious. It is also quite untrue.
The fact is that the two firefighters already fined had both filled out and returned the paperwork to the Department which confirmed they were responding to an emergency incident at the time of their speeding infringement. They did everything asked of them, and expected that to be the end of it. Remember, this all occurred before the Union’s notice of 20 March. The next they heard of it was when they received their $238 fines made out in their names and delivered to their home addresses.
In both instances, the State Debt Recovery Office sent the original fine to the NSWFB because they had no idea who was driving the fire appliance. We say that it is at this point that the Department should check the particulars and, upon confirming that the fire appliance was responding to an emergency, advise the Police to tear up the infringement notice. And we say that all of this should occur without our members even knowing that an infringement notice had been issued.
Instead, it was only because the firefighters filled out all of the forms and returned them to head office that they were then personally fined – hence our advice to check the circumstances and, provided you are sure that the infringement occurred while responding to an incident under lights and siren, to bin these notices if you receive one. Frankly, if the NSWFB can’t protect firefighters from speeding fines and red light cameras then management deserves to wear the ensuing fines.
Of course we could just turn up to contest the penalty notice in court. After all, we’re confident that no court is going to uphold a traffic infringement against a firefighter who was responding under lights and siren. But what a monumental waste of our time, public resources and public funds.
We cannot conclude without responding to our employer’s wailing protests that this is somehow a part of some wider union wage campaign. The unavoidable truth is that someone, somewhere within the NSW bureaucracy changed the rules about fire appliances and traffic infringements, and it wasn’t us.
When it comes to this issue, the only campaign the Union is involved in is the campaign for common sense.