TOLing Questions and Answers


Why is Fire & Rescue NSW pinpointing sick leave and overtime?

  • Fire & Rescue NSW has the highest rate of sick leave of any government agency in the State and any fire service in Australia.
  • This rate of sick leave has led to the overtime bill blowing out to $24 million in 2011/12 – more than $7 million over budget. With just one third of this financial year gone, approximately 70 per cent of the 2012/13 overtime budget has already been spent.
  • The blow-out in sick leave and overtime is not sustainable and must be contained.

What does the overtime reduction strategy involve?

  • Commissioner Mullins has decided to extend the ‘century-long’ long-standing practice of moving and using fire engines according to risk and need. This practice is not new.
  • The arrangements will involve moving up resources between fire stations where sick leave taking impacts safe crewing levels.

Why isn’t Fire & Rescue NSW considering other alternatives?

  • The FBEU was provided with every possible opportunity to propose alternate measures to save money and clamp down on absenteeism.
  • Unfortunately these alternatives were rejected by the FBEU membership. The resource movement arrangements are a responsible use of Fire and Rescue resources.

How many fire stations will be affected?

  • Only a small number of fire stations in metropolitan areas will be affected.
  • Reduced absenteeism will obviously reduce the need for stations and firefighters to be relocated to areas of greatest need.

Why is Fire & Rescue NSW targeting overtime?

  • Expenditure on overtime in July was $2.2 million, against a budget of $830,000. Since July, more than $7 million of the $10 million overtime budget has already been spent.
  • Tackling overtime and sick leave will deliver immediate savings while other measures are implemented.

Won’t this strategy impact on response times?

Fire engines will still reach incidents within acceptable response times. Only a few fire stations in metropolitan areas will be included in the new arrangements. All of these are in close proximity to other fire stations.