Agreement has been reached with the Fire Service on issues arising out of the new requirement for B.A. Fillers to now undergo externally driven training and certifying as an Approved Filler.

The Agreement and this financial year’s numbers are attached. Key points of the Agreement are:

  • A one-off payment of $70 to recognize the external certification/qualification now necessary to undertake B.A. filling.
  • Your agreement is necessary for you to undergo the necessary training and certification.
  • Once you are trained and certified, you can be expected to fill cylinders.
  • Numbers to be certified are restricted for the balance of this financial year.
  • Being an Approved Filler will not form any criteria for Station placement (either moving in or out), or for undertaking overtime at any location.

The Union sees this Agreement as significant. Despite initial rejection of the Union’s claim, the Fire Service has now accepted the claim and consequently the principle of recognition for required external qualification. Although the sum may appear small, the qualification payment will become part of the Collective Agreement and consequently be subject to re-negotiation when the C.A. is negotiated.

Secondly, the Agreement makes it clear that no member can be instructed or required to become an Approved Filler. It is now clearly your choice.

Members should also once again note that certification as an Approved Filler is necessary to lawfully fill B.A. cylinders. Being a Trainer or a Telarc technician is not, in its own right, sufficient.

The Union has also received an assurance that Approved Fillers will be able to continue to fill dive cylinders.

Recognition must be given to the vast majority of members who respected the Union’s position on this matter. This is a significant part of the reason why the Union’s arguments succeeded.

To those very few members who did fill cylinders when not certified, the Union notes that these people committed an unlawful action - an action that is subject to a potential $500,000 fine and a potential term of imprisonment of 3 months, and also subjects the Fire Service to similar penalties.

The Union will watch with interest as to whether the Department of Labour will prosecute. The Union notes that committing such unlawful action must also be a breach of the Standards of Conduct.

Again, particularly given the obvious seriousness authorities take of breaches of this statutory requirement, the Union will watch with interest Fire Service management’s efforts to apply disciplinary action. This is particularly so, given the eagerness of management to apply severe disciplinary action against members for trifling matters.

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