Firefighter speeding fines claims not true

Published: 4th April 2008

NSW Fire Brigades (NSWFB) Commissioner Greg Mullins said today said that claims by the Fire Brigades Employees Union (FBEU) that firefighters are being fined for driving fire engines to emergencies are simply untrue.

"Firefighters are exempt from most traffic regulations and laws when responding to emergencies, and if a speed or red light camera activates there is standard procedure that sees any fines immediately waived. Occasionally firefighters receive an infringement notice by mistake, and it is a simple matter to correct this when it occurs."

According to Commissioner Mullins, the possibility of firefighters incorrectly receiving infringement notices has increased because the Union itself has imposed a ban on vital paperwork.

"Unfortunately, without any consultation, the Union banned firefighters from filling in the necessary paperwork to enable fines to be waived, but now appears to be trying to blame the Government for a problem of its own making."

"Unfortunately this appears to be yet another instance of the Union either not checking its facts, or of greater concern, intentionally using misinformation to support its wages campaign," he said.

"There have been no changes to the rules, other than the Unions' paperwork ban, and as soon as we know the circumstances of each genuine case of emergency response, the fines will be waived by the Debt Recovery Office."

Commissioner Mullins said the only time emergency workers should receive a personal infringement notice is if they break traffic laws in non-emergency situations, and this has been a long-standing procedure that is well known and accepted.

Commissioner Mullins said that this is the latest in a string of claims by the Union that seem aimed at supporting the current wages claim.

"First it was the claim about Bathurst fire station being built back to front, even though the Union signed off on all aspects of its design including the direction of response, then an absurd claim that a relocation of equipment led to Monday's major fire at Alexandria. Today it is these untrue claims about traffic fines. At present I think people would be entitled to be very sceptical about any claims made by the FBEU."

The FBEU has been in dispute with the Government since February about pay rises for firefighters, and the matter is before the Industrial Relations Commission.