The Union and some of our members have been approached by management regarding having PRFO’s and DPRFO’s on response to fill IMT positions or respond alongside/as well as, on the fireground where Career urban Firefighters are operating or undertaking on call duties in Urban areas.
FENZ management have been told by the Union that we see this as unsafe and untenable as we have said time and time again, we do not know what qualifications these people have, they are not urban based incident trained qualified, experienced or assessed.
Despite assurances by management, we see this as the start of role creep by rural firefighters. Career firefighters have every expectation that they will be commanded and controlled by Urban Career Officers, including Executive Officers. They have demonstrated competencies and have qualifications that are required to command and control incidents involving Career urban firefighters.
There is also a move to have PRFO’s and DPRFO’s given silver helmets, the same colour as Urban Area Managers/Commanders and Assistant Area Commanders. The Union sees this as a dangerous and confusing move. Clearly, Firefighters with silver helmets have an Authorised Command Level (ACL) of 3. This immediately identifies the person wearing that helmet is responsible, has been assessed, trained and qualified to command and control major incidents. To have a rural incident only qualified person arrive will confuse the incident.
The Integration programme is working on, as a priority, the project ‘Unified Service delivery’ and within this are the topics of unified organisation, modular brigades, rank and roles, visual identifiers and command and control. We have consistently asked for command and control working groups to be set up with Career Urban Firefighters to address the obvious issues with command and control such as described here as we knew this sort of creep would and has started happening. Effectively people are incorrectly pre-empting decisions that have not been made.
Additionally, these integration projects are developed in co design with the Partner agencies and thus will include the communications to FENZ staff, the Union and our members. To date, these moves are not seen as co-design and therefore disingenuous activities.
The National Operations Manager and Integration Director has been sent correspondence by the Union outlining our concerns.
Members are asked to forward any and all requests or actual events where PRFO’s and DPRFO’s have or been asked to respond and act other than observers at incidents involving Career urban Firefighters or these people being used on any on call roster, to the Union office via e mail.