CODE 2, VOL 35, NO 40 : 08 DECEMBER 2021
SAFE CREWING TASK FORCE – REPORT PUBLISHED AND AVAILABLE TO ALL
Following some incredibly useful input from members across the state, I am pleased to report that the Safe Crewing Task Force (SCTF) Report has been published by the QFES Commissioner. Those of you who participated in the many UFUQ forums and discussions about safe and full crewing across the state will recall this report is the opportunity to set out the UFUQ position on a range of barriers to safe and full crewing, and to use your ideas on how to put forward ways to reduce or remove those barriers.
You can find a copy of the SCT report here.
The task of working with QFES and QFRS on bringing these ideas into reality has only just begun. But I thank all involved for contributing to this once in a generation effort to improve the operational firefighting and fire communication roles you all perform, while also increasing your safety and enhancing the services we provide to communities right cross Queensland.
Individual, work and employment location, and Branch contributors will be called upon as the work to bring these ideas to life continues.
357 ADDITIONAL FIREFIGHTERS – UPDATE
Much work has been done by your union to secure the funded commitment from the Palaszczuk government for an additional 357 professional firefighters on top of attrition numbers between the 2020-2021 and 2024-2025 financial years.
Your union is aware the numbers are unlikely to be enough to solve all of the crewing problems across the state, and I make the point that whilst this 357 (on top of the 147 from 2017) represents growth of approximately 25% in full-time professional firefighter numbers across Queensland communities, the amount of leave, training and other impacts such as increasing frequency of deployments means the numbers are probably still not enough. Work by your union will continue to obtain further increases of professional firefighters beyond 2025.
One of the first visible changes to crewing in all 10/14 stations is the planned move to ensure 23 full-time professional firefighters are rostered to the station. This is an improvement on the current model which provides for 19. The SCTF work allowed your union to demonstrate all the ways 19 was never enough. Over the next few years, we will see how 23 works, but as I’ve said, it’s likely many more are needed. 7 Day and 5 Day stations are also all seeing an increase in numbers.
Agreed placements from the 357:
Your union has obtained agreements on placements for this current (2021-2022) financial year including –
• Yarrabilba Fire Station opens with a fulltime professional crew of 23 firefighters, and
• Port Douglas Fire Station, Emerald Fire Station, Coolum Fire Station and Kingaroy Fire Station will all have a full crew of 6 rostered at these stations, and
• Beerwah Fire Station transitions to a 5 day station from Auxiliary only, with a crew of 6 professional firefighters with Auxiliary support, and
• Charters Towers Fire Station transitions from a 5 day station to a 7 day station with a crew of 12 professional firefighters, and
• Discussions continue on the specific placement numbers for Far North, Brisbane, South East and North Coast Regions this financial year, with the remainder of regions to be included in discussions throughout next year. Importantly, with the training school having to handle recruit training for both attrition replacements and this uplift, the total additional firefighter numbers will not be in place until mid-2025.
Local Branches will be involved as all regions are included in the discussions and I will update all members on agreed outcomes as they are finalised.
Still to be worked through:
Many matters are yet to be agreed, such as –
• Additional opportunities to place further numbers once the first round of agreed placements are finalised, and
• The outcomes of an audit and review of day work roles across the state, and
• The dropping of sick leave replacement each month (this is considered by the UFUQ as a failed, flawed and fading reliance on outdated thinking and we will seek, its removal and for all sick leave to be replaced), and
• A state-wide training calendar, to ensure all regions, all specialities and all members know when training is going to be available and/or when they will be required to attend training, removing the last minute tap on the shoulder style of poor workforce planning prevalent across the state, and
• Other state-wide crewing matters.
And as with placements, these discussions are ongoing and local Branches will be involved, and I will report outcomes as they are agreed.
Overall a great outcome:
This is a once in a generation uplift of firefighter numbers and whilst your union thinks many more are needed, at least for the first time in over 30 years, a significant change to crewing numbers is taking place, for the betterment of your capacity to take leave, obtain training and so much more.
John Oliver - General Secretary
Authorised by John Oliver General Secretary
United Firefighters' Union of Australia, Union of Employees QLD