CODE 2, VOL 34, NO 45 : 02 september 2020


WHY 350?
Here are some reasons why 350 additional firefighters is a good start.

1. The now outdated and non-functioning model of providing 19 firefighters to a station (known as the Pagano model) was flawed even when developed (but was introduced as it was the cheapest option possible) and is totally incompatible with the explosion in the variety of our roles to attend almost every emergency, we are now required to train for, reaccredit in, and perform.

2. In the years since the 19 per station model started, there have been multiple legislated additions to the types of leave available to you, none of them planned for in the crewing model you’re forced to work with.

3. One very real and obvious (and easily measured) failure of the 19 per station model is the ongoing dangerous and ill-conceived practice of QFRS of not replacing someone who calls in sick, unless the replacement fits within a financial statistical model instead of ensuring the safety of full crewing.

4. You can read the astounding similarities between Queensland Rail (QR) and QFRS in a report about train crewing problems (see link below). I encourage you to review the report, and wherever you see QR, think QFRS, you’ll agree the bloated structures and the failure to focus on core business (firefighters, fire trucks and fire stations), are mirrored in the way One QFES currently runs QFRS.

5. Queensland has the most natural disasters, according to the federal government agency Disaster Assist (see link below).

The numbers there don’t lie, a significant number of natural disasters occur in Queensland.  In fact, there have been 20 natural disaster in Queensland since September 2018 alone, requiring an ongoing combination of BAU and deployments to handle Queensland’s fire and rescue needs.  And disasters are becoming both more frequent and more intense.

Who in their right mind wouldn’t think more firefighters are desperately needed?  350 will barely fill in the current BAU needs. 

An increase in firefighters and fire communication officers will start to provide opportunities for you and your colleagues to address safety and crewing issues, obtain some training and professional development, improve rostering reliability and maximise full crewing, and to ensure that Queensland communities and those that live in them are as safe as they can be when it comes to the expectations they have regarding what professional firefighters can do to keep them safe.

350 more professional firefighters means we need immediate increases in funding NOW for an additional 70 professional firefighters (including the requisite number of fire communication officers) to be recruited per year for 5 years in addition to recruitment for attrition.

Funding commitments can be a mix of an increase in government contributions to the QFRS budget, but importantly, QFRS and One QFES can also find their own money through cutting out wasteful and unnecessary non-operational practices and directing funding to QFRS recruitment of professional firefighters.  Killing off the PSBA is also a good start, as I reported to you in Code 2 V34#43. But there is so much more unnecessary work within One QFES that misdirects vital funds away from firefighters, fire trucks and fire stations and therefore so much more work to be done.

I will keep reporting your union’s efforts as this battle to improve safety of crews and the communities you protect continues.

Here are some relevant links for your reference and for further reading:

Click here to read the Disaster Assist data 

Click here to read the Strachan Inquiry 

John Oliver - General Secretary

Authorised by John Oliver General Secretary 
United Firefighters' Union of Australia, Union of Employees QLD