Wednesday 22 February 2012 - Number 533    The Rumour Mill No (02) 9265 2627

United Nations Classification of our USAR Task Force
Planning continues for the United Nations External Classification (IEC) exercise that will take place in September this year. The exercise will commence in Sydney on 10 September under the watchful eye of UN Classifiers who will review our USAR Task Force response procedures at Ingleburn. The IEC will then continue from 11-14 September when we deploy a 72 person multi-agency team -- including equipment and capability -- to work in the field for ten days. The planning team is currently discussing a proposal to fly a full deployment to Queensland using an Australian Defence Force C17 aircraft. The IEC is being funded by the Australian Government.

Christchurch 1 year later
Today marks one year since Christchurch New Zealand was devastated by a 6.3 magnitude earthquake. Local emergency services were stretched to the limit and a request to deploy international USAR teams, including Australia, was made soon after the earthquake hit. NSW Task Force 1, under the leadership of Chief Superintendent Gary Picken, deployed immediately and was the first international team to arrive and provide relief for exhausted local emergency workers. Over the following 12 days, the NSW Task Force attended numerous USAR related incidents including the rescue of a deeply entrapped female from a collapsed office block, locating and assisting with the removal of numerous deceased persons and conducting search and clearance of over 700 buildings. The USAR deployment experienced constant aftershocks and conditions were both austere and challenging. When the TF1 departed, a follow-up combined Australian USAR Task Force took over operations, lead by Chief Superintendent John Denny. They assisted by shoring collapsed buildings, making areas safe and helping with local community recovery tasks. Our thoughts are with the people of Christchurch as they continue the massive task of rebuilding their city while coping with the tragedy of the 181 lives lost on that day. This morning Deputy Commissioner Benson represented us at a ceremony in Christchurch where he was presented with a thank you plaque by the Mayor.

Beat the flu bug! The vaccination clinic is open for bookings
As flu season is approaching, I'll be lining up at City of Sydney Fire Station to receive my ‘flu jab’, as I do every year. I encourage you to be a part of this invaluable FRNSW commitment to promoting health and reducing illness. We will again be offering flu vaccinations for all FRNSW staff throughout NSW. To find out more about the FRNSW vaccination program and to make an appointment, visit the Health and Safety intranet site via this link.

National incident management working group
Tomorrow Assistant Commissioner Mark Brown and I will be in Melbourne working with other fire agencies, land management authorities and the SES on further developing the Australian Inter-service Incident Management System (AIIMS). My role is alternate Chair, and AC Brown is the national urban fire service representative. AIIMS has evolved over the years from a primarily bushfire-focused ICS, to an “all hazards” system. FRNSW has been at the forefront of developing incident command tools for urban scenarios, such as hazmat, rescue, high rise and major structure fires. Our SOGs were originally written by me after I was awarded a Churchill Fellowship in 1995 to research incident command systems and other fire service issues. They were based on the Phoenix (Arizona) Fire Dept. “Fire Command” model developed by Chief Alan Brunacini. 17 years later, we are trialing the “Blue Card” online ICS training course developed by Chief Brunacini and his sons, which is a significant advancement on what I saw back in 1995. AC Brown and I are feeding the key concepts of urban ICS into the national work on AIIMS.

Possible replacement of FireAir1
FRNSW has enjoyed a successful partnership with the NSW Police Force (NSWPF) in the joint operation of FireAir 1/ PolAir 5. The time has now come to look at a possible replacement of the BK 117 helicopter and after a review of FRNSW and NSWPF requirements, the Bell 412EP helicopter has been identified as a suitable replacement. The Bell 412 has double the carrying capacity and range of the current aircraft, and has a far greater capacity for water bombing bushfires (1,900 litre belly tank). Along with several other senior officers from FRNSW and the NSWPF, I recently visited the Bankstown Aviation Base to inspect a similar aircraft and learn more about it’s capabilities. FRNSW and NSWPF will now work together on a business case in an effort to secure the necessary funding.

IPP Entry Test review and a “country” IPP As a result of feedback from the Inspectors Promotional Program (IPP) Entry Test review process we have updated the information available for the Incident Management section of the entry test. Go to the IPP intranet page and see the links for Incident Management format - Fire (Powerpoint) and Incident Management format - Hazmat (Powerpoint). Today’s special edition of Commissioner’s Orders advertises an IPP entry test targeted at newly created country Duty Commander positions. All candidates for the IPP will need to be prepared to serve in regional NSW.

US Fire Chief visit
Last week Chief Bruce Stedman from Arlington Fire Department, Washington State, USA, visited Sydney. We discovered we have many mutual fire service acquaintances in the US, and coincidentally we were both the same age when we joined the fire service back in 1978. Chief Stedman spent 33 years with the very busy East Los Angeles Alhambra Fire Department, and retired as Fire Chief before being offered the new possible in Arlington. In 1992 he led a Strike Team into the centre of the Los Angeles riots, where many buildings had been set alight. During his stay, Chief Stedman met with firefighters from City of Sydney,
Western Sydney and South Western Sydney and attended a 2nd Alarm structure fire scenario at Liverpool Fire Station. The firefighters were keen to hear his stories of firefighting during his career, particularly during the LA riots. Chief Stedman told me he was extremely impressed with FRNSW firefighters and reiterated that even though the two services are half a world away, firefighting in NSW and the USA is fundamentally the same. “It’s the people who make firefighting the best job in the world,” he said. My thanks to Inspectors Kernin Lambert and Glenn Launt for hosting Bruce.

Be Safe News
This week you will have received your first edition of the new Health and Safety newsletter,
'Be Safe News'. The responsibility of making sure everybody returns home safely after very shift and every callout is something I take very seriously and as far as I am concerned, the most important part of my role. Safety is not just important for us at work - it’s just as important in every aspect of our daily lives. The intent of the newsletter is to help us think about safety all of the time, whether we are at work or with the people most important to us - our families. The new approach of Be Safe News includes general health and safety messages and topics that are relevant at work and at home. The focus of the newsletter will range from the latest research on dietary and exercise guidelines, new promotional programs and services available for all things 'health', as well as general information on prevention of injury and/or illness, for both at work and at home. Any suggestions for future topics can be sent to health&

Firefighter for a Day
On Wednesday 8 February 2012, members of the media attended the State Training College
to experience ComSafe’s Firefighter for a Day program. Participants gained a greater insight and understanding of FRNSW operations through hands-on training in basic firefighting skills, simulated search and rescue, car accident rescue, hazmat incidents, and communication demonstrations. This is the second event of its kind and has now been attended by various external media representatives and staff from the Office of the Minister for Police and Emergency Services. The event has proved to be highly successful in building understanding and strengthening positive relationships with our stakeholders and the media, and has resulted in a number of very positive newspaper, radio and TV stories.

Physical aptitude test review update
Following a very good response to the organisation-wide survey on physically demanding job tasks, the University of Wollongong has now completed the task analysis phase of it’s research into FRNSW’s Physical Employment Standards. Simulations conducted at Ingleburn, Londonderry, Beecroft and the State Training College involved physiological monitoring of 57
firefighters from 10 stations during a range of hazmat, rescue, bushfire and structural firefighting scenarios. I would like to personally thank all firefighters who participated in, or assisted with, the simulations for the professionalism they demonstrated. The efforts of all involved will allow FRNSW to lead the field in the application of physical employment standards. The next stage of the research will focus on developing the PAT itself. For more information please see the intranet article link.

FRNSW Chaplains
The FRNSW Chaplaincy Service provides assistance to FRNSW employees and their families during times of stress. Whether the issues relate to work, home, relationships or health, our Chaplains can offer confidential and non-judgmental emotional care and support. Lyndsay and Dawn Smith have been our Senior Chaplains for eight years and provide a listening ear, a shoulder to cry on and perhaps some guidance on where to get the best help - whatever the situation. They can meet you at home, work, hospital or coffee shop - all discussions are totally confidential. The Chaplains are actively involved in all FRNSW support services including the Critical Incident Support Program, Relief and Welfare Fund and Employee Assistance Program. As Salvation Army Officers they have access to the wider resources of The Salvation Army in NSW and as part of the FRNSW are available to conduct weddings, christenings, naming ceremonies and funerals for family members. To contact them, email: or phone Lyndsay on 0418 869 280 or Dawn on 0418 268 754.

Toughest Firefighter Alive (TFA)
The Toughest Firefighter Alive competition is the blue ribbon event of the World Firefighters’
Games. The event tests competitors physically and mentally with firefighters having to complete 4 timed stages of firefighting related activities. TFA is only open to permanent, retained and volunteer firefighters and is a very popular event limited to 250 participants – so be quick to register, or miss out. Competitors will be pushed to the limit with all aspects of agility, power, strength, stamina and endurance being tested, not to mention the mind. There are also Gold, Silver and Bronze medals to be won in all the respective men and women’s age groups. A full detailed layout of the 4 stages in the TFA as well as the rules etc. is available on the website at WFG Events is flying out the current World Champion Toughest Firefighter Alive, Joachim Posanz from Germany who was the overall winner in Daegu, South Korea last year to be part of the official countdown to the Games launch. This will be happening on Monday 27 February in Martin Place at around 12pm. If you can, come to Martin Place and meet Joachim and see what it takes to become a champion. While you’re there, don’t forget to get your discounted registration for the Sydney Games in October.s


NSW floods
During the recent severe flooding in Moree, firefighters from 381 Station were kept extremely busy assisting local SES and RFS crews. Apart from providing fire protection to the town throughout the flooding, 381 Tanker responded to three hazmat calls, a flooding and an AFA. It was a challenging time as 381 Station had three retained staff members unable to get to the station, with another member suffering major damage to his home. The town was cut by road in all directions, and towns to the south, including Narrabri, Wee Waa and Gunnedah, were facing their own flood problems. Warialda and Bingara to the east were cut off from Moree due to major road damage and flooding. As the combat agency, SES was in charge of coordinating jobs, and all calls for flood assistance were relayed through them. The recent flood in December and subsequent debriefs had enabled the SES to ensure they had adequate personnel on the ground before the floodwaters arrived. When the Mehi River cut the town in half, a FRNSW pumper was placed on the least flood-affected southern side of the town while the tanker remained on the heavily-flooded north side. At the flood peak, 381 Tanker was the only vehicle able to cross the main bridge, transporting the Local Area Police Commander from her residence to the EOC. The tanker crew also assisted nursing staff from Moree Hospital and Fairview Nursing Home to safely cross the river and return home as well as enabling the Mayor of Moree to inspect the damage after the flood had peaked. The tanker also transported much needed milk supplies to flood affected homes. After the floodwaters subsided, 381 Station assisted with the mammoth clean up. The mid-north coast has also seen its fair share of wet weather, receiving 1.4 metres of rain in the last four weeks. FRNSW Stations in RN1 have been kept busy responding to flooded commercial basements, assisting SES crews with flood operations, attending MVA’s resulting from the wet wether, assisting with evacuations from areas that have been affected by swollen rivers and creeks and helping remove fallen trees from across roads. The FRNSW crews predominately involved in these operations were 221 Bellingen, 235 Bowraville, 257 Coffs Harbour, 453 Taree, 502 Wingham and 507 Woolgoolga. Bellingen, which is affected by flooding probably more than any other location in RN1 was extremely busy both during and after the floods. The crew from 221 assisted other Emergency Services by washing away debris and mud from roads and bridges after the Bellinger River subsided.
Bowraville also had roads cut and bridges flooded which resulted in firefighters living out of town having to stand by at the fire station to ensure there were adequate crew numbers in case of a call. As is always the case, all firefighters and support staff performed their duties without fuss or complaint despite the extremely arduous and uncomfortable conditions.

Lightning strike at Mullumbimby
At 0234 hours on Tuesday this week firefighters from 388 Mullumbimby, 240 Byron Bay and 316 Goonellabah Hazmat were called to a fire in a local church. Upon arrival, the crew from 388 found a serious fire on the 2nd level and mounted an offensive attack, backed up by crews on 240 pumper and tanker. Several lines of 38mm hose were deployed internally by BA crews and the fire was controlled within half an hour. During salvage and overhaul operations it was found that the fire had originated from a lightning strike – the church becoming another casualty of the wild weather. Well done to the crews on a good save.

Recycling complex fire
At 0804 hours on Thursday 9 February, crews from 28 Marrickville, 5 Newtown, 13 Alexandria, 35 Botany and 26 Mascot responded to a fire in a recycling complex in St Peters. Arriving crews were confronted by a large area of waste paper alight inside the recycling plant. A male employee who was suffering from smoke inhalation was treated by firefighters at the scene before being transported to hospital by NSW Ambulance Paramedics. Crews wearing breathing apparatus attacked the fire but gaining access was difficult without the use of front end loaders and oxy cutting equipment. Staff working at the site assisted firefighters in reaching the seat of the fire and the blaze was subsequently extinguished. Exceptional work by fire crews saved the complex from major damage.

Are there any plans to develop a FRNSW App. I have noticed many people now using iphone and ipad technology. It could contain many helpful tips, skills, facts or contacts etc pertinent to our organisation. Maybe even a game eg “FRNSW Trivial Pursuit” which would be a fun way of maintain our knowledge and learning. Just a thought.

A. A what?? (sorry – I’m getting older). At the moment we are concentrating our effects on creating mobile friendly websites. We already have an iPhone app for the Brigade Kids game which is available here

When you visit our website homepage ( from an iPhone or Android mobile device, you are presented with a cut down mobile friendly version of our website which includes fire safety materials for the community and includes an automatic fire station locator. This mobile website is always undergoing improvements and additions. Figures from our website show that last month, 19% of visits where from mobile devices. We are currently developing mobile device specific applications for the public and for internal use so please watch this space. Our IT-savvy people tell me that the suggestion to look at developing “apps” is a good one that we can look at in the future.

Some time ago, in line with our values of dignity and respect in the workplace, you issued an instruction about removing anything from personal and station lockers that could be offensive to others. This isn’t being observed 100%, and some officers allow offensive material to remain. Why?

A: Hopefully this is an isolated case. I have always been very clear on this – anything that offends, excludes, or discriminates in any way, has no place in FRNSW. Something that might be seen as harmless and funny, can be devastating to the person it refers to. A couple of things need to happen – in line with our respectful workplace training, all of us need to have the courage to speak up if we see something that is not right. If you find something offensive or fear that somebody else might be offended, bring it to the attention of the person who placed it, in a calm and respectful manner. If you are approached in this way, don’t react aggressively – the person has done you a big favour. Acknowledge this and remove the offensive material immediately. Officers of all ranks and non uniformed managers must not walk past or ignore something that clearly has no place in a FRNSW workplace – whether it is offensive language, material, or aggressive behaviour. Walking past something effectively condones it, and this is not good enough. It is an abrogation of responsibility. We have an enviable workplace culture and we look out for each other. Ensuring that all of our workplaces are welcoming and safe for all is what we expect and want, and all of us have a responsibility to try to address any concerns immediately at the local level before they become big problems. If something cannot be addressed, please escalate the issue immediately via the chain of command, and to the Workplace Standards Unit if necessary.

· Commissioner’s email:

· Sandra Garcia, EA to Commissioner: 9265 2930

· Ask the Commissioner:

· To contribute a story to the intranet, please contact the Media, Ministerial and Communications Unit: 9265 2907