As you can see from the Code Reds we are encouraging members to talk to members of the community about our campaign. Below are some key talking points you can use when discussing the campaign provided under key themes:
- Health and safety
Firefighting is an inherently dangerous workplace. We face risks to our health and safety every day not just when responding to an emergency event but also at our stations and other workplaces.
Scientific evidence supports the fact that firefighters have increased risk of certain cancers and other illnesses due to things we are exposed to daily in our job like carcinogens, and other chemicals.
There are things we can do in workplaces to reduce the risk. This includes ensuring things like proper clean/dirty areas so we don’t take dirty gear into clean areas of the fire station, proper diesel exhaust capture systems in our engine bays reducing our exposure to diesel emissions, ensuring we only train with clean water that’s of a potable standard etc and making sure we are regularly screened for the illnesses we know our job causes like cancer.
We want to address these issues by insisting on a proper review of FRNSW infrastructure, appliances and equipment so we can ensure our fire stations, appliances and personal protective clothing and equipment keep us safe.
We also want to institute proper health screening to make sure we get tested for the cancers our job causes us and other illnesses and injuries we suffer from our work.
- Resources and response times
Modern homes burn 8 times faster than older homes. This is because our homes are increasingly filled with synthetic materials and plastics. This also means our homes now emit smoke that is 200 times more toxic.
This is why it’s absolutely vital that we can respond to your emergency with a guaranteed response and the right numbers of firefighters, with the right training and equipment to protect you, your family and your home.
Once a modern house fire starts, the temperature in the home rises rapidly. In as little as 4 minutes, the fire starts to transition to flashover – the sudden and simultaneous ignition of most flammable materials and gases inside. After this critical point, the fire spreads quickly and becomes extremely difficult to contain. Backed by this scientific research, modern fire services aim to deploy within the critical 5-10 minute time frame in order to save lives and property. Our NSW Firefighters’ rapid response times can literally mean the difference between life and death.
On top of the need to be responding in less time, we also have more to respond to. In the last ten years the population of NSW has grown by approximately 1 million and we have added 500,000 new homes. In this time we have not increased the firefighting workforce by one single additional firefighter. Our employer and the government are also allowing the closure of up 50 fire stations in NSW at any given time.
We have also seen the increased risk of climate change fuelled natural disasters with our state experiencing the worst bushfires and floods we have ever seen in the last 5 years stretching our resources thin and leaving us at breaking point.
You deserve better.
Our industrial campaign is not just about wages and conditions, we have proposed real solutions to our staffing and resources problems including mandated staffing models that will lock in the resources we need in the places we need them and able to respond in the timeframes you need us.
It will also ensure proper training and promotions so that we can make sure we have the right numbers of firefighters with the rights skills to protect you in all the events we respond to including structure fires, bushfires, floods, hazmat incidents and motor vehicle and other rescues.
Firefighting is an incredibly specialised industry where every decision made in relation to our work can directly impact our health and safety.
To ensuring the right recruitment and training standards, making sure our appliances, equipment and personal protective clothing are the best available and fit for purpose, down to reviewing policies, operating procedures, and instructions, all of these can go to whether we can not only keep ourselves safe, but whether we can keep you safe.
That is why a key claim for us in these negotiations are to make sure that firefighters are properly consulted about the decisions that affect us. We know our jobs best and we should have impact into the decision making that impacts our work every single day.
More importantly, implementing this would not cost FRNSW and/or the government a single cent.
- Fair wages and conditions
Like all of you, firefighters have been feeling the pinch of increased cost of living pressures. We all know that life is getting more expensive. From housing, to child care, to groceries we’re all struggling to keep up.
What you might not know though is that firefighters took wages freeze in 2021 of 0.3%. This was supposed to apply across the public sector but ultimately only applied to industries. This has left us falling behind other public sector jobs.
Likewise, our job has particular challenges and costs associated with it. Could you imagine finding childcare to account for a 24 hour shift? How do you pay for housing near your work when you are required to work in central Sydney?
This is the reality of our job and we only ask to be properly compensated with fair wages and conditions that keeps us on track to meet our cost of living pressures and bring us into line with other fire services across Australia.