SITREP 38/2011

September 30, 2011

Inside this issue:

  • LSVs: all bets are off
  • It’s “Department”, not “Service”
  • Presumptive legislation: Department gives the thumbs down
  • Drug and Alcohol petition
  • Firefighter Alumni – free labour
  • Mental Health Month

LSVs: all bets are off

With the Department’s hyenas displaying appalling conduct by threatening to sack numerous injured comrades (including members injured on the job) and citing a lack of available alternative duties positions as part of the excuse, the Union has called off any further negotiation over the LSV staffing arrangements that were agreed through the Waratah Fire Station settlement (see SITREP No. 8/2010).

So there is no confusion, the current, and only, agreed position for the staffing of the LSVs was set out in correspondence between the Union and Department last year whereby:

“the LSVs would in future be primarily staffed by permanent firefighters and officers on alternative duties. It was also understood that in the event of insufficient alternative duties permanents, other “spare” permanent firefighters could be used to staff the LSV and failing that, that the LSV in question would effectively be grounded until:

a) it could again be staffed by a permanent firefighter or officer on alternative duties; or

b) it could again be staffed by a “spare” permanent firefighter;

c) it was required immediately for urgent duties, in which case it could be staffed by a retained firefighter who would respond to the LSV station as he/she would respond to any other incident.”

It beggars belief that some of the members targeted for termination on 20 October are actually still driving the LSVs at the moment. More to follow.

It’s “Department”, not “Service”

We note that the Department recently started referring to itself in letters as “the Service”. Why? Who knows – it may even just be just sour grapes after the Union knocked off the Commissioner’s preferred name of NSW Fire and Rescue Service last year (see SITREP 50/2010, “New century, new name”). Either way, FRNSW is not a “service”. It was a government Department as the NSWFB, and it remains a government Department as FRNSW.

We agree that it’s not the year’s biggest issue, but members are nonetheless encouraged to continue referring to management as “the Department” because (1) it is accurate and (2) it annoys them.

Presumptive legislation:

Department gives thumbs down

SITREP 36/2011 reported on the Senate Inquiry’s report into presumptive legislation, which basically recommended that the list of deemed cancers be expanded to the 14 cancers proposed in the FBEU’s submission. We also reported that FBEU lobbying saw the Greens and the ALP Opposition now offering in-principle support for presumptive legislation in NSW. But what of the NSW Government?

In a letter to the Union last week, the Minister’s office informed us that “I am advised by Fire and Rescue NSW that, at present there is insufficient conclusive evidence of an association between the occupation of firefighter and some cancers, and a lack of high quality research studies on the matter.

So the O’Farrell Government, operating on the advice of our very own Department, knows better than the Commonwealth Parliament’s Senate Inquiry. Stay tuned.

Drug and Alcohol petition

An anonymous petition has been circulating this week calling for a General Meeting to ban random D&A testing and to ratify the existing policy based on the capacity to work rather than punishment.

The State Committee had already resolved to oppose the Department’s AOD Policy at its July 2011 meeting (see SITREP 29/2011), but yesterday also resolved to endorse the petition’s only direction that ‘this meeting bans random and targeted testing of alcohol and other drugs and ratify the existing policy based on the capacity to work rather than punishment” thereby making this Union policy, and a General Meeting unnecessary.

Members are reminded that the Union’s officials are all willing and available to speak with any member who wishes to have something considered by the State Committee at their monthly meeting. While it is not required under the Rules, members are encouraged to do this before they spark off unnecessary petitions and general meetings.

Firefighter Alumni – free labour

In another cost cutting exercise the Department recently launched a ‘Firefighter Alumni’ program for firefighters to field calls, without pay, from potential permanent firefighter applicants about the job and aspects of working at a fire station and referring them to FRNSW various policies and other information.

Members are always willing to share our knowledge of our industry to interested applicants who visit fire stations, but a systematic voluntary program of this kind has no place in our job. Why? Because this program is nothing more than a cynical attempt by the Department to offload paid work currently performed by the Department’s Human Resource and Recruitment staff on to FBEU members on an unpaid basis. At the very least, it’s a cost saving for management. If we wanted to be volunteers we would have joined the RFS!

Mental Health Month

For the month of October organisations across the country, including the FBEU, will be raising awareness of mental health as part of Mental Health Month. Organised by the Mental Health Association, Mental Health Month aims to promote social and emotional wellbeing to the population in this state by encouraging people to maximise their health and increasing mental health literacy.  There are a number of events being held across NSW, details of which can be found at along with other mental health resources.


Darin Sullivan

Acting State Secretary and President



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