New fire dispatch system slammed by operators
Updated June 26, 2012 10:18:45Photo: NSW Fire and Rescue 000 operators describe a new dispatch system as rushed and a disaster. (ABC News: Dan Cox)
Triple-0 operators have described the restructuring of the communications system for Fire and Rescue New South Wales as a “disaster”.
Communication centres at Wollongong and Katoomba were closed as part of the rationalisation this month, with all triple-0 fire calls now directed to either Newcastle or Sydney.
Newcastle has a new $10 million computer system and management says it will improve response times to emergencies across the state.
But a triple-0 operator with 19 years experience has told the ABC the upgraded system is causing extreme levels of stress for staff.
The operator says they have “no control” and are “severely under-trained”.
The staff member has described the new system as a “disaster”, because multiple units are being sent to the same job and on other occasions the system has allocated jobs to stations that are eight hours away.
Fire and Rescue NSW Assistant Commissioner Mark Brown was in Newcastle yesterday to inspect the new system.
He acknowledged the changes have been stressful for staff.
“There certainly has been some problems with the first period of the operation of the system,” he said.
“There’s been some technical problems but they’ve all been sorted out, so I don’t think the community should have any concern about the ability of Fire and Rescue to take triple-0 calls and then dispatch appropriate fire trucks to their emergency.”
Assistant Commissioner Brown rejects claims the new system was rushed by management.
“The introduction had been delayed from its original ‘go live’. There was some issues with the earlier training for operators, but we’ve compensated for that by putting in extra support into both of the communications centres,” he said.
“Even today we’ve got an additional supervisor and an additional technical support person in the Newcastle communications centre.”
The president of the Fire Brigade Employees’ Union, Darin Sullivan, says the problems are concerning.
“Our position is that’s not acceptable. It’s not OK to have teething problems in emergency services when you’ve got important systems that need to be in place working all the time,” Mr Sullivan said.
“We’re collating the information that the fire comms officers are passing onto us and we won’t hesitate to inform the community of any problems that actually endanger the community.
“We’ve got some other side issues coming up. We’ve got part-time firefighters’ wages being affected by this new system, because they’re not being responded to areas that they used to be responded to.
“So there are a raft of detailed issues here that we’re trying to look at throughout the next few weeks.”
First posted June 26, 2012 06:48:52