Friday 14 July 2006 Number 392 NSWFB The Rumour Mill No (02) 9265 2627

Asbestos at the USAR training facility at Holsworthy
Letters have been forwarded to all NSWFB employees who have registered as having visited the Holsworthy site. The letters summarise the latest scientific findings, which confirm low risk levels.To be thorough and responsible, I asked the Director-General of NSW Health to arrange review of the health management plan by experts. On the basis of successive tests finding no evidence of respirable asbestos fibres, the Department of Health reviewed the proposed health management plan (developed by experts from the NSWFB, Police, Ambulance, SES, Health and Department of Commerce) and suggested that individuals should visit a Doctor who would determine, on an individual basis what, if any, further health assessment is necessary. Due to the continuing FBEU ban on health assessments by the NSWFB the letters suggest that employees use their own Doctor, and that the Doctor should bill the NSWFB directly. (ie No cost to the employee).

On Wednesday afternoon, the NSWFB became aware that the FBEU's position appears to have changed, and mass screening will be demanded. The FBEU was offered a briefing by health experts to explain why this may no longer be necessary, however the offer was rejected. An allegation made by the FBEU that the NSWFB had “reneged” on an undertaking is unfair. As per the understanding with the former FBEU leadership (which was stated publicly by the FBEU only months ago) screening was not made compulsory but is voluntary and is available to anybody who requests it. The purpose of the suggested visit to private doctors was: (a) to recognise the FBEU ban on health assessments, (b) to eliminate delays as far as possible, and (c) to ensure that every employee receives clear, personalised clinical advice.

My message to staff and the scientific reports are available on the intranet . I will circulate a further update to all NSWFB employees next week.

John Anderson retires
After more than 40 years serving the NSWFB, my friend and colleague, Deputy Commissioner John Anderson, is hanging up his helmet for the last time on 21 July. However, his “retirement” will be short-lived with him taking over the prestigious role of Chair of the State Emergency Management Committee. John has been a driving force for decades in improving and modernising the NSWFB, both as an officer, and when he was President of the Fire Brigade Employees' Union in the 1980s. John is highly regarded in the fire and emergency services community nationally and internationally due to his operational and technical expertise, excellent management credentials and also because he's a terribly nice bloke. Good luck in your new role John, and thank you for the huge contribution you have made to the NSWFB. You will be missed and long remembered.

Executive restructure
This week interviews were held for the new positions of Deputy Commissioner Emergency Management and Deputy Commissioner Capability and Support. Appointments to the positions will be announced next week.

Visit to western NSW
On Tuesday 4 July and Wednesday 5 July, I visited the far west of NSW to present numerous awards to firefighters and meet members of the community.

During the two days I visited 238 Broken Hill, 256 Cobar, 406 Nyngan, 465 Trangie and 280 Dubbo. It was great to meet the firefighters and their families and see the pride on their faces when they received their awards.

Thanks to all of the firefighters and officers for their support and hospitality during the visit. Read the full story on the intranet.

Retained Telephone Alerting System allowance

I am pleased to confirm that following agreement being reached between the NSWFB and the FBEU on payment of the Retained Telephone Alerting System (RTAS) allowance to retained firefighters, a back payment covering the period April 2005 to May 2006 was made to all eligible staff last month. From now on, payments will be made on a monthly basis.

In order to receive the RTAS allowance, all retained firefighters must have a valid phone number recorded in Employee Self Service (ESS) as their primary contact number. This number is used by the RTAS system to contact retained firefighters in the event of a turnout. If you require assistance in entering your number into ESS or in the use of RTAS, please contact the FireCAD help desk on 02 9318 4888 between 8:30am and 4:30pm, Monday to Friday. For enquiries relating to the payment of the RTAS allowance, please contact your Zone / Region office.

Please note that pagers remain the primary method of alerting firefighters to a turnout.

Frank Rushbrook visits NSWFB
On Thursday 6 July, I had the privilege of meeting retired Scottish Chief Fire Officer Frank Rushbrook. Many of you would know Dr Rushbrook's name as the author of books including Ship Fires and the Law: Through the Eyes of a Firefighter and Fire Aboard - the Problems of Prevention and Control in Ships and Port Installations . Fire Aboard was a recommended text for the old District Officers' exam.

Read the story on the intranet.

Major Fires
The last 36 hours has seen a spate of serious fires throughout NSW, and this reinforces the need for all of us to push fire safety messages in the community. The fires included:

  1. House fires at Botany, Baulkham Hills, Ambarvale, Tamworth, Parramatta, and Redfern.
  2. Church fire at Adaminaby
  3. Shop fire at Warialda
  4. Store room at Coffs Harbour
  5. Retirement home at West Gosford
  6. Unit fire (fatal) at Concord West
  7. Factory fires at Taren Point (2 nd alarm) and Caringbah
  8. Warehouse fire at Moree
  9. Basement fire (2 nd alarm) at Newcastle West
  10. 2 storey buildings at Chippendale (4 th alarm) and Petersham (4 th alarm).

Rumour: Is it true that there will be an additional SOPP exam held in December 2006, and if so what will be the pre-requisite for firefighters to apply for this exam?

Response: No. The exam will be held in November as per the award. The pre-requisites are those identified in Standing Orders.

Rumour: When does the NSWFB envisage having the public safety training package for current QFs to be promoted to Senior Firefighters?

Response: The NSWFB has been in discussions with the FBEU regarding the progression and promotion provisions from Qualified Firefighter to Senior Firefighter. An In Order is ready for publication which informs eligible firefighters of the necessary training competences that will need to be completed for promotion. The In Order will also detail the arrangements for firefighters who have been waiting to commence the necessary study and assessments. A further meeting is scheduled with the FBEU where it is hoped the FBEU will endorse a proposal to continue current arrangements, possibly with minor changes, pending resolution of the wider question of PSTP. This will provide clarity and assured promotions to those wishing to study and advance.

Rumour: Is it true that the Brigades have indefinitely extended the trial of the CRMO in Region South 3 and will shortly call for EOI's to relieve in this position? If so, why is this the only CRM position that won't attract a special duties allowance and why are firefighters stationed outside of the Illawarra Region being told that they cannot applyto relieve in this (special duties) position?

Response: No. The CRMO South 3 trial in the Illawarra has been concluded pending the implementation of the current operational restructure and the ongoing assessment and development of CRM roles and responsibilities as they relate to the future establishment of the proposed Area Commands.


Chipping Norton family saved by smoke alarms

Blayney firefighters tested at multi-vehicle accident

Emergency response capabilities on show following gas leak

Fuel tanker overturned at Gin Gin

Commissioner’s e-mail:
Cora Sarmiento, Commish’s PA: 9265 2930
PACSU: fax 9265 2882
Commish’s Corner Rumour Mill: 9265 2627
To contribute a story to the intranet, please contact Public Affairs Officers: (West) 9265 2613, (South) 9265 2802 or (North) 9265 2631