SITREP No. 41/2010

October 15, 2010

Inside this issue:

  • Extra permanent jobs now in place
  • 2010 Recruitment campaign #1 – off to a limping start
  • 2010 Recruitment campaign #2 – Dept forced to consult on MR quals
  • Workplace Standards  – new name but same approach
  • SES and NSWFB – a perfect match?
  • FBEU Centenary – PPE transport arrangements
  • FBEU Centenary – RSVP now

Extra permanent jobs now in place

We shouldn’t always focus on the negatives. The conclusion of the Waratah dispute earlier this year led not only to LSV staffing changes, it also resulted in permanent staffing enhancements at Batemans Bay, Maitland, Cessnock and Nelson Bay, which all went S/O and 3 on the Special Roster, and Lismore and Holmesville both going S/O and 3 on the 10/14. All of the expected additional permanent positions are now in place, joining the retained members already in place at each location.

2010 Recruitment campaign #1 – off to limping start

The Department this month changed the pre-requisite for permanent firefighters from the School Certificate to the Higher School Certificate (HSC) or equivalent. The Union was not consulted about this change and has written to the Department to ask why. We now have the farcical situation where many of our retained members are now excluded from becoming permanent firefighters simply because they have not sat the HSC. There is no good reason, and certainly no educational reason, to require applicants to hold the HSC. Concerned members in this situation should email their details to

2010 Recruitment campaign #2 – Dept forced to consult on MR quals

Also to be included in the list of pre-requisites is a requirement for all new recruits to have a Medium Rigid (MR) licence prior to starting. That’s right, in the same week the Department began its advertising blitz calling for more women to apply, it introduced a pre-requisite that will turn most women away. The fact is that while 110,000 men in NSW currently hold an MR licence, only 9,000 women do. And this is how the Department makes it easier for women to apply?

The Union this week took the Department to the IRC over the MR issue. While the Department insisted the issue was closed, the IRC said otherwise. The Department must now consult with the Union on the question of whether MR training will continue to be delivered as part of the Recruit training program, with the outcome to be determined if necessary by the IRC. More to follow.

Workplace Standards – new name but same approach

The new Workplace Standards Branch (WSB) started up on the promise of improved handling of workplace issues and the correct application of the disciplinary process. Regrettably, the Union continues to see cases of intimidation and harassment from management. In one recent example the WSB ordered a member facing off-duty Police charges that he “must, within seven days, advise the Commissioner, in writing, of the facts of the matter giving rise to you being charged”. The member was also asked to “provide a copy of the Court Attendance Notice or other relevant court documentation” and further directed that he “must inform the Commissioner of the outcome of your appearance before the Court

Fortunately for our member, but unfortunately for the WSB, Standing Orders clearly states that a member cannot be required to incriminate himself/herself. But the WSB’s atrocities didn’t stop there, the letter to our member concluding with the clear threat that “failure to comply with this instruction may result in disciplinary proceedings pursuant to Part 4 Fire Brigades Regulation 2008 being

initiated against you”. Again, Standing Orders, clearly provides that “a member should not be threatened with prosecution for refusing to supply a report intended for use against him/her”.

While this member was not required to submit anything further after the Union intervened, all members should note that not all orders from management are lawful orders.

SES and NSWFB – a perfect match?

In 2008 we saw NSWFB Assistant Commissioner Murray Kear appointed SES Director General (now Commissioner). Then in July 2009 the Govt changed the funding arrangements for the SES so that it now mirrors the NSWFB’s three way (insurance companies/state govt/local govt) funding model. And today comes news that NSWFB Chief Supt Steve Pearce has been appointed SES Deputy Commissioner Corporate Services & Planning. Steve leaves the Brigades, and the FBEU, with our congratulations and best wishes.

But is there more to all this than we know? The last time a government suggested merging the SES and the pre-RFS bush fire brigades, in the 1970’s, the SES volunteers were open to the idea but the bushies went bonkers. While nobody – the Union included – is actually suggesting a SES/NSWFB merger now, the FBEU has always welcomed the opportunity to participate in calm, considered reviews of the state’s emergency services and will do so again if and when the opportunity arises.

FBEU Centenary – PPE transport arrangements

Arrangements have been made for members who are marching in next Thursday’s parade, and who do not want have to take their PPE home after the AGM function, to have their PPE returned to one of 13 drop sites in the GSA, or to 503, 260, or 304 for members outside the GSA. Members who use this service will be responsible for collecting their gear, which will be bagged and tagged at the venue, from the drop site they have chosen (presumably the site closest to their home or station).

FBEU Centenary – RSVP now

With over 800 members and guests already confirming their attendance at next Thursday’s Union Centenary function, places are filling fast. Don’t risk a full house and being turned away on the day, RSVP to the Union office on 9218 3444 or



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