CODE 2, VOL 32, NO 5 : 27 february 2018
PROFESSIONAL FIREFIGHTER UPDATE
Removal of temporary firefighters – UPDATE
I have had multiple contacts from almost every region regarding the ongoing heavy reliance by your local management on the use of temporary firefighters (temps). I’ve looked at some of the rosters and the evidence is plain to see, almost two years after a Deed of Agreement to remove all temps was signed by your union and QFES (fire and rescue).
In response to my request that fire and rescue demonstrate how they plan to address roster shortfalls once temps are removed, Commissioner Carroll wrote to your union suggesting that dedicated recruit courses and an expansion of the reserve roster were options that may address the shortfalls. Your union has not been consulted on how the expansion of the reserve roster beyond Brisbane Region might work.
The reserve roster requirements as found in clause 30 of CA16 deliberately restrict the use of firefighters in a reserve roster capacity. I have doubts that the reserve roster could ever be used in the many creative ways your local management have (and continue to) roster temps, unless the standards required by clause 30 were dropped. I can inform you your union has no intention of ever agreeing to relaxing the way the reserve roster is to be used.
The UFUQ position is that neither the reserve roster nor any other weakened rostering principles will be allowed to fester into the new problem that temps turned into.
Many of you are questioning if fire and rescue has the intention and/or the capacity to comply with the requirements of the Deed between your union and fire and rescue, committing to removal of temps across the state.
In response to those questions, all I can report at this stage is that on 20 February 2018, I met with Chief Strategy Officer Mr Doug Smith to discuss the fire and rescue plan for complying with the Deed. Previous to this, two other meetings between your union and fire and rescue have occurred to discuss compliance with the Deed.
At that meeting, (and as both he and Commissioner Carroll have done previously on more than one occasion), Mr Smith provided an assurance to me that it is the absolute intention of fire and rescue to comply fully with the Deed, and that your union’s position on ‘safe’ crewing will not be affected by the removal of temps.
The potential for fire and rescue to drop crews to 1+2 has been ill-advisedly pushed by some in regional and senior management, but your union’s position is that we will fight any cut to safe crewing as a result of fire and rescue’s compliance with the Deed, (or indeed the outcome of any changes to the way fire and rescue crew appliances).
We also reject outright the often threatened idea of just crewing 1+2 and sending two trucks. Your union says safe crewing is a fully crewed 1+3 truck and nothing less. Fire and rescue keep saying that firefighter safety and community safety are paramount. The UFUQ says the internationally accepted standard of 1+3 is one of the cornerstones of firefighter safety and therefore community safety.
Further to the assurances given to me, there can be no doubt that fire and rescue are aware of their obligations to align themselves with the policy positions of the current ALP state government, and a number of the current (2017) ALP State Platform policy positions are specifically relevant to fire and rescue.
Directly relevant to the removal of temps and how that may affect crewing, fire and rescue need to be mindful that they maintain an alignment of their crewing methods with policy position 8.89 (see page 104 of the document) –
‘Labor affirms the importance of regulated requirements of safe crewing on the fire ground, which includes the principle of two-in two-out.’
I conclude by summarising that the assurances from Mr Smith and Commissioner Carroll, combined with the current state government’s clear policy, and your union’s ongoing discussions with fire and rescue and the state government, will see that 1+3 remains the minimum standard as default for crewing across Queensland and that there will be no reduction in crews as a result of the removal of temps across the state (or for any other reason).
I will report any further relevant details fire and rescue provide regarding how they intend to comply with the Deed as soon as they are presented to me.
For your reference:
You can find a copy of the Deed and your current certified agreement (CA16) on your union’s website www.ufuq.com.au.
The current ALP policy platform can be found at www.queenslandlabor.org
John Oliver - General Secretary
Authorised by John Oliver General Secretary
United Firefighters' Union of Australia, Union of Employees QLD