Band aids and library books



– A day in the life of a Union Official

With my 48 hr shift work week as a full time firefighter complete, my days off (dedicated voluntarily) as President of the NSW Fire Brigade Employees’ Union began, starting with a call from ABC radio at 6.30am. They were calling in regards to our media release on drug and alcohol testing in Fire and Rescue NSW. As I did the interview my family were waking, starting to get ready for school and work. The interview went well, and on completion of the call, my family pretended I didn’t just take a Union call so early in the morning.

Making lunches, and chatting with my girls was soon complete, one lot taking off in the car, the other princess placed onto the school bus. Successful morning (not including the incident involving lost socks) by 8.45am. I was due at my first event for the day at 9.30am, but first – the house work!

After running around the house, tidying up, making beds, and putting washing on, it was soon done, but I was now running late… quick change, and out the door, email by phone on the way.

En route to FBEU Union delegate training, I had time to speak to WinTV News, a Teachers Federation Official, and my Union office. Dad’s birthday too, have to find some quality time with him!

Into the car park, and up to the venue, just in time to meet and greet my fellow firey Union members, officials, and staff from the Union office. Delegates training was soon under way.

10 mins in, a call from Win TV again, they want to do an interview in the car park – so out I go. I get a good run talking about the FBEU training day, the Teachers Federation event on that afternoon, and our major public sector rally in Sydney on Sept 8. Good interview, good coverage – back to the training.

During the delegate training, several other issues arose requiring phone calls. Luckily I wasn’t presenting, so I could slip in and out of the well run event (thanks to the great FBEU staff and officials present). One of the issues on the boil was the immanent closure of our Fire Communications centres, and some member based issues around some bans we had in place at those centres. In and out – but got the calls covered, including some caucusing with (and solid support from) my Executive around those matters.

Back to the delegates, this time with a chance for some input, and a good chat with them while finishing up. Another successful delegate training day as part of the NSW roll out.

Cutting it fine for time to get home for my youngest coming off the school bus, I jump in the car, and head back home. On the way home, the office calls, FRNSW has listed us in the Industrial Relations Commission. Some strategic decisions around that are made, then I arrive home. Just in time for my daughter, and as she dawdles down the road, picking flowers and skipping, I’m reminded of why I do what I do. We have a chat about important issues, like her need for some band aids after a school yard fall, and a discussion on today’s library book decisions. Just then, my awesome wife arrives home just in time for the changeover. A quick cuppa, and I’m back out the door, off to the Teachers Federation meeting as a guest speaker.

Once again cutting the timeline fine, I’m back past the places I’ve already been today, with more time to make some follow up calls. The IRC didn’t go well, but we have some time to discuss further as an Exec tomorrow. The traffic is building but I get to Wollongong TAFE just in time for the meeting with Teachers and Labour movement figures. Another great Union event with discussions and info on the current draconian laws NSW public sector workers are facing under the new axe wielding O’Farrell Liberal government.

Finally getting through the main parts of the day now, but the phone rings off the hook all the way home. Some more work now building to followup tomorrow just like the traffic in front of me. Almost home – bugger! “Dad’s B’day!” A phone call (and good chat with my favourite bloke) saves the day, and time to pull in to get food shopping and something to cook for dinner. Evening time with the family and I cook a nice meal while my wife runs the kids around to various events. They’re busier than I am.

Homework with the little one, teenage discussion with the eldest, all part of the night time ritual. Couple of Union SMS’s and emails in between, kept secret like a double agent’s spy work so as to not (understandably) upset off my girls who want me at home on my days off as much as possible.

With them all settled in bed, and some emails to attend to, I thought, “what if I blog my days events – I wonder if it will be of interest to anyone?” – probably not….. but there you go.

Ready to do it all again on the rest of my days off, like I have for ten years, then back to firefighting for another week……

Darin Sullivan

About Darin Sullivan (1980 Articles)
Former President of the Fire Brigade Employees’ Union (2009-2018) and a professional firefighter with more than 30 years experience. I live and work on the NSW South Coast, Australia. I am a strong advocate for firefighters and emergency service workers with an interest in mental health issues and caring for those around me. I am a former Director on the NSW Fire Brigades Death and Disability Super Fund and work with charities including ‘The Movember Foundation’. As a leader and activist I have long been active in the campaign for action on climate change. I am a Station Commander in the fire and rescue service in NSW and have 30 years experience fighting fires, both rural and urban. I am passionate about highlighting the impact climate change is having on fire preparedness and fire behaviour in Australia, and the risks associated with inaction on climate change. I am also a spokesperson for the Australian Climate Media Centre.
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