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FBEU SITREP 4/2013 “On-shift Rescue training “

January 25, 2013

Rescue training

  •      On-shift Rescue training to commence
  •      AMP show cause letters
  •      Department’s Retained Stand By confusion
  •      Dad and Partner leave (DAPP) update
  •      Australia Day public holiday – Monday 28 January 2013

On-shift Rescue training to commence

The Union is pleased to advise members that agreement has now been reached for the commencement of on-shift rescue training. Under the agreement two models will be trialled:

a)    Members from one platoon (to be decided by the Department) will complete pre-course training at their own station and once they are ready to be assessed will apply to undertake 6 day-shift outduties at City of Sydney Fire Station where a Rescue Instructor will assess them.

b)    Members on the remaining three platoons will undergo a face-to-face training program over 8 day-shifts at their own station with a Rescue Instructor whereby training and assessment shall occur simultaneously.

A training schedule shall be finalised in the coming weeks, with training priority initially given to stations with a shortage of qualified rescue operators. In early May, the Union and Department will jointly review the performance of each model. If a preferred model cannot be agreed upon the trial will continue, and the matter shall be referred to the IRC. Having said that, the Union is confident that the parties will be able to finalise the most effective model for on-shift rescue training together.

It is also agreed that in the case of any model which requires the firefighter to undertake pre-course training (1) An appliance and equipment familiarisation component including understanding the identification and purpose for specialist rescue equipment and maintaining records of availability and good repair of equipment via Station Inventory Management (SIMs) checks; (2) Modules of theory to revise the various competencies including lesson plans and practice skills drills with assessment undertaken by the trainee within the rescue station with assistance of Rescue Qualified Station Officer and/or firefighters) the commencement date for payment for the Rescue Allowance shall be backdated in each instance to the date that the firefighter concerned applied to be assessed.

To avoid doubt this will ordinarily result in payment from the date of completion of the pre-course training, as certified by the Station Officer, and not the completion of the final assessment to be undertaken with the City of Sydney Fire Station. The exception to this would be when a firefighter undertaking assessment is deemed not yet competent and therefore requires reassessment, in which case the commencement date for payment for the Rescue Allowance shall be delayed by one month (ie 28 days) for each such reassessment.

The Union is pleased that, despite arbitration being scheduled for today, the parties could settle this matter and acknowledges the work of representatives on both sides so that training can now commence as soon as possible. Members undertaking on-shift rescue training are encouraged to provide feedback over the next few months to assist with the review.

AMP show cause letters

 In SITREP 46/2012 (click here), members were advised that the IRC had ordered a new AMP, including a trial of the ability to carry over unused NMCs. The Union is aware that a wave of show cause letters has been sent to members in the last week or two, some of which appear to have not been through the screening process which the AMP requires. Regardless, if you have received an AMP show cause letter you should fax a copy to the Union office as soon as possible, and an Industrial Officer will be in touch to provide advice and assistance in preparing a response.

Department’s Retained Stand By confusion

Since the start of the current bushfire season the Department has been deploying retained members in task forces and standing by at fire stations … just in case of a major incident. There is nothing new about any of that except for the fact that the appropriate payment for retained has had more inconsistencies than the TOLing policy.

It’s been brought to our attention that management instructed firefighters to stand by at their station on “Stand by” rates only to have that changed to incident rates after the deployment. They have instructed retained to attend task force duties on incident rates which attract penalty rates and then change it to clause 29 major emergency rates. We even had two separate instances where zone management attempted to call the deployment a stand-up (?) with the intention of not having to supply meals and refreshments.

Understandably our members are confused and disgruntled at the lack of consistency and confirmation of what payment they would be working under. The Union will be addressing these concerns in relation to appropriate payment and will keep members advised of progress in resolving these matters.

Dad and Partner leave (DAPP) update

SITREP 2/2013 (click here) reported on the Federal Labor Government’s new ‘Dad and Partner Pay’ scheme. Members have since reported conflicting advice from the Family Assistance Office (FAO), so the Union has investigated the matter further. Following discussions with the FAO, it appears that DAPP is not payable whilst on paid leave. However, also during these discussions the Union identified that there are gaps in the legislation for shift workers and for workers who are only entitled to paid paternity leave whilst ever there is another primary care-giver. These issues had not previously been raised or considered by FAO, the Department of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations (DEEWR), or the relevant Ministers.

The Union has also contacted the office of Jenny Macklin, Minister for Families, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs and they are now looking into the matter with DEEWR. As with any such government benefits the Union encourages members to get in contact with the FAO and discuss you personal situation before finalising your paternity leave plans, however at this stage most members do not appear to have an entitlement to DAPP. We hope to continue working with the relevant Departments to correct this anomaly.

Australia Day public holiday – Monday 28 January 2013

The Union office has received several queries as to whether Monday 28 January is an additional public holiday. The answer is that although Monday 28 January 2013 has been proclaimed as the Australia Day public holiday it is not an additional public holiday. In this case, the public holiday has simply been moved from Saturday 26 January to the Monday, and therefore does not attract extra consolidated leave.

Darin Sullivan
President and Acting State Secretary

About Darin Sullivan (1967 Articles)
President of the Fire Brigade Employees’ Union and a professional firefighter with more than 25 years’ experience. Father of two daughters, he lives and works on the NSW South Coast, Australia. He is a strong advocate for firefighters and emergency service workers with an interest in mental health issues and caring for those around him. He is a Director on the NSW Fire Brigades Death and Disability Super Fund and works with charities including ‘The Movember Foundation’. As a leader and activist he has long been active in the campaign for action on climate change. Now a Station Commander in the fire and rescue service in NSW and has decades of experience fighting fires, both rural and urban. He is 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. Darin is also a spokesperson for the Australian Climate Media Centre.
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