Fire & Rescue NSW

Commissioner’s Corner

Current National Terrorism Threat Level: Probable


Read online via the intranet at here

Wednesday 8 February 2017
Number 655


This issue of Commissioner’s Corner comes from Acting Commissioner Jim Hamilton.




New Minister welcomed

FRNSW’s new Minister, The Hon. Troy Grant, had responsibility for Emergency Services added to his Police portfolio when new Premier Gladys Berejiklian announced her new Ministry on 30 January.

Minister Grant is a former NSW Police officer who retired with the rank of Inspector after 22 years’ service. During that time he was awarded two Commissioner’s Commendations for Courage. In 2011 he entered the NSW Parliament as The Nationals’ Member for Dubbo. A former Deputy Premier, he has held a number of significant portfolios including Justice and Police, Trade and Investment, Tourism and Major Events, Regional Infrastructure and Services.

When I met with Minister Grant last Wednesday he stressed that he was the Minister for Police and the Minister for Emergency Services and that both portfolios, whilst closely aligned, were separate and extremely important to him. Minister Grant also expressed that it was indeed an honour to represent the many men and women who make up the emergency services of NSW.

I had the opportunity to brief the Minister on current matters and he is very keen to meet as many FRNSW personnel as possible, already visiting our Greenacre site and 78 Stn Ropes Crossing.

I welcome our new Minister and offer a sincere thank you to previous Minister David Elliott for his support over recent years.


Worthy awards on Australia Day

Four firefighters were recognised in the recent Australia Day honours, with three being awarded the Australian Fire Service Medal (AFSM) and the fourth an Emergency Services Medal.

AFSMs were awarded to Chief Superintendent David Felton, Captain Brian Clarke and Station Officer Ian Grimwood for their service to FRNSW and the community. The ESM was awarded to SF Shannon Crofton for his contributions to both FRNSW and SES. My sincere congratulations to all on your well-deserved recognition. For more information, see the intranet story.


“Tireless fundraising” recognised

Also on Australia Day, Qualified Firefighter Matt Pridham of 036 Stn Crows Nest was presented with a Northern Beaches Council Outstanding Community Service award for his “tireless fundraising for Motor Neurone Disease” at a citizenship ceremony.

QF Pridham founded and spearheads the now annual Firefighters Climb for Motor Neurone Disease, which has seen firefighters raise almost $700,000 its first two years for Macquarie University researchers. Last October, more than 400 firefighters, including international starters, climbed the 1,504 stairs of the tower to reach Matt’s 2016 $500,000 fundraising goal. Congratulations to Matt for his incredible determination and humility in the face of such a huge achievement. For more information, see the intranet story.


Commissioner Mullins farewelled in style

On Friday 3 February around 300 guests gathered at Dockside, Darling Harbour to farewell outgoing Commissioner Greg Mullins at a special retirement dinner. Following canapes and drinks on the balcony, distinguished guests, family, friends and colleagues were treated to a video charting Commissioner Mullins’s career. The moving tribute, which featured pictures of the fresh faced, karate-loving youngster who was eventually to become our respected and admired Fire Chief, had the crowd both in stitches and tears.  

A number of guests took to the microphone to speak about the significant impact the former Commissioner had on their experiences within and working alongside FRNSW, including Minister Grant, who spoke on behalf of the NSW Government. WAFA representatives SF Cathryn Dorahy and SO Bronnie Macintosh thanked Mr Mullins for his great steps forwards in gender progression and diversity, while NSW Police Commissioner Andrew Scipione spoke of the two Commissioners developing a closer relationship allowing the two agencies to stand side by side. Mr Mullins’s son and daughter, Phil and Kate, regaled the audience with stories of growing up in a Brigade family, attending incidents while on family outings and learning all the station numbers off by heart thanks to the constant presence of the radio.

I was delighted to present the Commissioner with a number of gifts. These included the traditional chrome helmet signifying the Chief Officer, his axe and insignia box, and a book filled with the written tributes sent in by staff from across the organisation. Following a champagne toast with his wife, Erris, Greg ensured everyone finished the night in high spirits with his signature rendition of the B-52s ‘Love Shack’. I’m sure I speak on behalf of all at FRNSW in wishing Greg a final farewell and all the very best for his next chapter.


Finley Captain John Hand retires after four decades

I had the privilege to attend and speak at Captain John Hand’s sendoff in Finely on Saturday 28 January. Captain John Hand AFSM joined the then NSWFB in 1975 and was appointed Captain in 1986. John was also a very active participant in the Firefighter Championships competing from 1976 until 2000, holding numerous State records. John then took up roles in the Firefighter Championship Executive Committee, including Treasurer and is the Firefighter Championship Historian, working closely with the Museum of Fire. John has received many awards for his service to the local Finley community and was awarded the Australian Fire Service Medal in 1995.

I wish John and Val long and healthy retirement.


Mayday Drag now standard operating technique

The Mayday Drag for Rapid Primary Assessment, a technique developed in the United States to greatly increase survival rates of firefighters who have suffered cardiac arrest while wearing PPC (including breathing apparatus), is now a standard operating technique for FRNSW. The Mayday Drag removes an unconscious or decreased level of consciousness firefighter from their equipment providing access for assessment and further medical intervention within 15-30 seconds.

A Mayday Drag demonstration video is now available on FireTube and as a Skills Maintenance Training Program session plan on the Learning Hub. Mayday Drag training will also be delivered during Basic Life Support and Advanced Resuscitation Technique sessions and the Skills Maintenance Program. For more information, see the intranet story.


Four new Chief Superintendents

Last Friday afternoon I was delighted to formally promote three Superintendents to Chief Superintendent and present their epaulettes at a brief ceremony. Newly promoted are: Roger Mentha, Chief Superintendent Capability Management; Philip Lindsay, Chief Superintendent Operational Communication; Paul Bailey, Chief Superintendent Specialised Operations; and Brett Davies, Area Commander Metro North. Unfortunately Roger Mentha was unable to attend, but it was a great pleasure to be able to congratulate all on their achievement.


We’re moving to 1 Amarina!

FRNSW will commence operating from its new headquarters at 1 Amarina on Monday 13 February. The move to our new building will occur over two weekends, with all staff relocated to Greenacre by Monday 20 February.

This move is the result of much planning by FRNSW to design and construct its new premises. The new building is designed for activity based working (ABW), providing people with flexible work spaces designed for a range of different activities. Staff facilities include a new on-site café – No. 9 Station, as well as an outdoor courtyard, BBQ facilities and fully equipped kitchens. The building will also be set up with all the tools and technology for ABW.

There will be plenty of staff parking spaces available at 1 Amarina, with overflow parking available in the adjacent Bunnings car park and surrounding residential streets. All staff are encouraged to visit 1 Amarina and view our new headquarters for themselves. Further information on 1 Amarina, including the latest site parking plan and fly-through video is available on the 1 Amarina toolkit (Toolkits > Organisation Wide > Asset Management & Property > 1 Amarina).

I would like to personally extend a BIG thank you to all involved in this major project, you have done an outstanding job and should justifiably be proud of your achievements – WELL DONE!




Blacktown 3rd Alarm unit fire

At 0733 hours on Tuesday 31 January, crews from 43 Seven Hills, 63 Blacktown and 97 Huntingwood were responded to a unit fire in Bruce Street, Blacktown. Due to the number of Triple Zero calls received, FireComms responded additional crews from 27 Parramatta, 67 Baulkham Hills and 96 Schofields.

Reports of ‘person trapped on upper levels’ were conveyed to responding appliances. Upon arrival, 43 Seven Hills Station Commander Philip Gardner assumed command, and sent a message confirming a working fire on a multiple level building with persons reported.

A number of people self-evacuated prior to FRNSW arrival, including a father throwing his baby from a second level balcony into bedding held by neighbours at ground level. Crews got to work with lines of hose and rescued four people via internal stairways, and one person externally using a portable ladder. Additional crews from 57 Wentworthville, 94 Kellyville, 77 St Marys, 32 Mt Druitt, 71 Castle Hill and 78 Ropes Crossing also attended.

Duty Commander MW1, Inspector Graham Kingsland arrived and assumed command. Both Inspector Kingsland and Operational Media Coordinator, Superintendent Ian Krimmer, conducted interviews onsite for the attending media. The cause of the fire is still under investigation with support from FIRU. Great work by all attending crews in limiting the amount of damage done to the building, and more importantly, ensuring the safety of all residents and firefighters.


Berowra truck MVA and hazmat incident

At 0404 hours on the same day, Tuesday 31 January, crews from 75 Berowra and 50 Hornsby were responded to a truck fire on the M1 Pacific Motorway at Berowra. Upon arrival firefighters were confronted with two trucks severely entangled and alight, with the whereabouts of both drivers unknown.

75 Berowra Station Officer Alan Bruce assumed command until relieved by Duty Commander North, Inspector Phillip Bedford. Zone Commander North, Superintendent Kel McNamara responded and subsequently assumed command.

Both drivers were accounted for and luckily suffered only minor injuries. Crews extinguished the fire and began the laborious task of decanting fuel, separating the vehicles using a thermal lance and rendering the area safe. The incident was complicated further by burning aluminium from one of the trucks degrading the road which required a resurface.

There was a significant hazmat component to this incident, with runoff from foam used to extinguish the fire. Team Leader Hazmat Station Officer Steven Perkins, with crews from 50 Hornsby, 51 Forestville and 228 Berkeley Vale, successfully managing the hazmat component preventing pollution of the nearby waterways of the Hawkesbury River.

FRNSW remained on scene until mid-afternoon with Superintendent Andrew Faunce and A/Superintendent Norm Buckley assisting as Liaison Officers at the Transport Management Centre during the incident. Well done to all attending crews for rendering the area safe during a protracted and difficult incident in very warm conditions.


Hytrans a ‘game changer’ at Redfern basement flooding

Following yesterday’s deluge of 37mm of rainfall in just 30 minutes in the Sydney area, 001 Stn City of Sydney’s Flyer was responded at 1356 hrs to basement flooding at the Salvation Army premises in Chalmers Street, Redfern. After conducting a size up, Station Commander Richard Lucas estimated approximately 250,000L of water in the basement. Attempts to pump out the water via R1’s Hoenig Turbine Immersion Pump were largely ineffective so a decision was made to respond the Hytrans bulk water transfer system to the incident.

Crews from the Flyer and R1 worked alongside LF Michael Harvey and SF Pete Murray from Capability Management to deploy the Hytrans for the first time since it was obtained by FRNSW in 2013. Water discharge via the Hytrans commenced at approximately 1630 hrs with observation of the pump requiring several relocations and/or repositioning of the discharge lines to improve efficiency and street drainage.

The Hytrans proved to be highly efficient and extremely capable in pumping out approximately 400,000L of water in 60 minutes in what SO Lucas described as a “game changer”. Well done to all crews involved in this fantastic outcome. For more information about the Hytrans, see the intranet toolkit (Toolkits > Operational > Equipment > Firefighting Equipment > Bulk water transfer system).




Q: What is happening with the rollout of new SCBA? We have completed the first part of the training via the Learning Hub but have heard nothing about when we will be able to complete the second part.

A: New MSA sets are now being sent out to stations to enable Part B (the fit check) to be completed by all crews. However, stations must complete Part A (the online training package available in the Learning Hub) before they can progress to the second stage and be certified as ready to receive and operate the new sets.

The Draeger sets will remain as the operational SCBA set for all firefighters until the station is notified to switch to the new MSA set. The full rollout is expected to commence in the coming months. For more information about the new SCBA see the intranet toolkit (Toolkits > Operational > Equipment > Hazmat Equipment > SCBA).


Q: Why don’t FRNSW use the same web browser for all web-based worksites? It’s a waste of time opening up Internet Explorer or Chrome and eventually realising the site doesn’t work properly with that particular browser.

A: Unfortunately, some webpage functionalities are incompatible with some browsers. It would be ideal if this weren’t the case. To assist, the Station Portal has now been enhanced to display the name and icon of the relevant browser when the mouse hovers over a link.


Q: With the consistent hot weather, I am worried about the wellbeing of my crew when they are on shift. What can I do to ease the intense heat stress we are all feeling? 

A: Heat stress risks to firefighters exist all year round, however the current periods of extreme temperatures being experienced in parts of the State present an increased likelihood of heat-related illnesses. Hazard Alert 7 – Working in hot weather reminds all staff about important steps to stay safe and healthy in hot weather. Some of the critical points are:

  • Prevention of heat stress and dehydration begins before you even start work or turn out – hydrate frequently and increase rest and fluid consumption to match your workload.
  • If you are in command of others, monitor their wellbeing and factor increased breaks and/or resources into your incident action plans.
  • If you are feeling unwell, tell your supervisor immediately.
  • Dress in the lightest PPE that is appropriate for the hazards.
  • Employ active cooling techniques such as forearm immersion – resting in the shade alone (a passive technique) can be very ineffective at returning your body temperature to normal.




Commissioner's email:

Amanda Ibbotson, EA to Commissioner: 9265 2930

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