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SITREP 42/2012

October 26, 2012

  • FRNSW budget crisis update
  • Single Pump response to AFAs
  • Fire prevention: saving lives but costing jobs?

FRNSW budget crisis update

As reported in SITREP 41/2012, the Union and the Department return to the IRC’s Justice Backman next Friday, 2 November. In the meantime, the Union has filed an application with the Administrative Decisions Tribunal (ADT) under the Government Information (Public Access) Act to access all the documents held by the Department in relation to possible strategies to meet the Government’s labour expense cap, including station closures, moving up stations, increasing outduty limits, introducing outduties for officers, and other service delivery models. While the Department has agreed to release some of the information sought, it has also refused to release the vast majority of relevant documents.

One of the reasons given for refusing public access is that the information sought may be “misused”, which could in turn lead to “significant public safety risks”. And closing fire stations doesn’t?

Single Pump response to AFAs

Station Officers have been contacting the Union reporting that they have been instructed to review all AFA installations in their station area in order to advise management which installations can be downgraded to a single pump response. Meanwhile, management is telling Station Officers they can’t be trusted with petty cash or corporate cards. The Department appears to want it both ways. So which is it?

Double standard aside, Station Officers are not paid to decide which FRNSW response levels and services should be cut and any member who is asked or ordered to do so should contact the Union immediately.

Fire prevention: saving lives but costing jobs?

Vicious budget cuts in the UK are biting hard, with fire service management now closing stations and cutting firefighter jobs across the country. Disturbingly, fire service managers are increasingly responding to these cuts not with concern or alarm, but rather with soothing reassurances for the public that more fire prevention work and less fire calls and fatalities mean that these fire stations, appliances and fire crews are no longer needed.

West Yorkshire’s Chief Fire Officer Simon Pilling was recently quoted as saying “The success of the brigade’s fire safety work over the past 10 years means there is undeniable scope for change … . Accidental fire deaths and injuries are at an all-time low and some stations are now half as busy as they were a few years ago so I’m confident we can rationalise and modernise the service whilst still providing effective fire cover.”

And the London Evening Standard last month reported that “brigade chiefs have been told to cut their £448million annual budget in response to the declining number of fire deaths. These have fallen from 81 in 2001 to 55 last year, with 28 fatalities up to the end of August this year.” This, according to the article, was expected to “result in the loss of 1,000 jobs and the closure of 30 fire stations”.

How long before similar arguments emerge here to justify station closures, temporary or permanent?

Jim Casey
State Secretary 

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