The letter below was sent to FES Commissioner Darren Klemm today

Dear Darren,

In order to ensure the safety of our members and try to help your Department manage risks, the association has long sought to obtain details of the five safety issues DFES has confirmed are being investigated by WorkSafeWA regarding Career Fire and Rescue Service (CFRS) “Light Tanker” appliances – which are very similar to many that are currently in operation within the Volunteer Bush Fire Service.

Worksafe has informed us that it is not at liberty to share details of any investigation with 3rd parties and until recently, other communication from government has led us to believe that all five issues are specific to the CFRS use of Light Tanker vehicles and thus not a risk to our members.

However, the recent DFES Circular “New Procedures for Opening a Light Tanker Bonnet and Stowage of Kit Bags in Side Lockers” (Operational Circular 37/2021 – File D02225) clearly states that as a result of interaction with WorkSafeWA, DFES has undertaken to develop new procedures to reduce potential injury to CFRS employees which, “are encouraged to be adopted by volunteer personnel”.

Understandably, this series of events has created some confusion that I hope can be quickly rectified with your response to the following questions:

1. Is there any potential risk to volunteer Bush Fire Service firefighters relating opening a bonnet of, or stowing kit bags in, DFES-supplied Light Tankers?

If no;

a. Can you please urgently provide the association with a short written statement that we can distribute to assure our members that they are not at risk?

If yes;

b. Given the Circular says, “These procedures are to be used where a risk assessment, conducted by a Station Officer, determines that there is a potential risk of injury to CFRS firefighters,” can you please provide a Risk Assessment Template/Guide for us to share with volunteer brigades that do not have a Station Officer or the resources to develop their own instrument?

c. While the 2 firefighters inside a CFRS Light Tanker are rarely turned out in isolation, it is not uncommon for that to occur in the bush fire service. Given the new procedure requires 3 people to safely lift the bonnet of this 2 person vehicle, can you please provide a procedure that is achievable by a two volunteers who do not have the luxury of working with a larger crew?

2. Given that the Circular confirms that at least 2 of the 5 Light Tanker safety issues being reviewed by WorkSafeWA is relevant to our members, can you now please direct your staff to work together with the association and allow us to help ensure these and the other 3 issues are mitigated and managed in a way that is inclusive and empathetic of the unique culture and methodologies of the volunteer Bush Fire Service?

I look forward to your most urgent reply. As always, please don’t hesitate to pick up the phone or email if there is anything at all the AVBFB can do to help you and your dedicated staff keep our members safe and properly resourced.

Yours sincerely,

Darren Brown
Executive Officer