Parliamentary Committee recommends all firefighters are equal

Tuesday, 8 Sep 2015

Now it’s up to Parliament to vote it into legislation.

The report into Firefighter cancer report was released this evening and the discriminatory 150 fire attendance for volunteer firefighters has been dropped to the same number that paid and part time fire firefighters need to attend, which is 1.

Due to the historically poor record keeping of the fire service, volunteers will need to have their claims assessed by a Government Panel until a proven record keeping system is implemented and to be shown to be workable.

This is a great achievement on behalf of the 36,000 volunteer firefighters in Queensland and will be the driver for profound change within rural fire, with the supporting conversations of improved PPE, support equipment and facilities being driven from this recommendation.

Compared to all other States and Territories in Australia, the Rural Fire Service in Queensland has been historically starved of funding and support for over 20 years through successive governments, and todays’ recommendation is the platform that is needed for major improvements in brigade support and equipment to be based.

This report will also be a driver in allowing brigades to acquire the training and equipment necessary to adequately defend communities across Queensland. As increased volunteer safety and reporting would be a driver for the QFES to reduce WorkCover premiums.

With Rural Fire Brigades attending over 200 structure fires last financial year, another discussion to be had is the re-introduction of Compressed Air Breathing Apparatus sets to brigades that have an identified community need. This re-introduction would not only increase community safety and increase the capacity of the QFES as a whole, but also provide a safer working environment for volunteer firefighters.

The Bill will still need to go to Parliament to be voted upon, and this could be as early as next week when the house sits.

The RFBAQ would like to thank every MP who made this recommendation possible and Jarrod Bleijie MP specifically for tabling his Private Members Bill for firefighter protection.

RFBAQ Representatives, Brigades, volunteers and concerned members of the public have made their voices heard throughout this process, and with 213 submissions made to the committee, only 1 submission did not support equal cancer coverage for volunteer firefighters. That submission was from the United Firefighters Union of Australia which is based in Melbourne.

In what is already a very large and dangerous fire season, the RFBAQ wishes all firefighters, regardless of truck colour and pay status the best and encourages all to “Stay Safe”.

Link to committee report

 

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