Fresh from a roasting in the NSW Industrial Relations Commission the Department has now started rolling out a series of new hair brained schemes aimed at pushing firefighters out into new roles, new responsibilities and new work. The latest of these is the plan to get firefighters door knocking senior citizens in Department of Housing premises in Western Sydney handing out fire safety advice and conducting inspections of hydrant systems.
The plan now circulated to brigades in the Western suburbs is pitched around reducing ‘fire related deaths and injuries’ by targeting elderly people in public housing. The Department has informed members that one particular platoon has been “volunteered” to take responsibility for the program and members are directed to fill in Community Activity Reporting Statements (CARS) enabling the Department to monitor member’s participation and involvement in the program.
Whilst the people developing the program may have had a sincere and genuine concern for elderly people this is clearly neither an appropriate nor suitable use of front line firefighting resources, it has never been raised with the Union and it is now banned. Firefighters have an important emergency role in society and should not be used as an alternative to a properly funded and resourced community sector. The Union has today written to the Department informing it of the Unions concerns. Clearly the Department needs to train, equip and resource its firefighters if it expects us to dispense fire safety advice and develop Pre Incident Plans to deal with contingencies in these high risk premises.
The news however is not all bad with the Union’s State Committee of Management having recently considered the Station Inventory Management System (SIMS) and deciding that this initiative is in the interests of members and as such has been agreed to. In coming to this decision the State Committee considered that the SIM System is a reorganization of existing work practices and will substantially contribute to improvements in the safety and welfare of members. For further information on this issue members should contact local elected Union officials.