Bulletin No:          071                                     Volume:  20                        Thursday 27 March 2014








The UFU has been proposing an appropriate system of GPS for many months now.

The system the UFU has proposed would cover every possible use GPS could provide for fireground accountability as it allows for the use of GPS once any appliance responds to an emergency event.

The UFU is at a loss to understand why the MFB has not implemented such system and instead is now seeking to unilaterally impose GPS on all employees in every and any circumstance.

In fact if the MFB were serious about fireground accountability they would have implemented GPS in accordance with the UFU’s proposed arrangements last year!

The UFU wishes to correct the MFB’s propaganda regarding this matter.

This matter traces right back to consultation regarding the proposed Next Generation Response program which the UFU and MFB spent many months consulting on.

NGR was a project projected to cost in the vicinity of $20 million and which would have provided hugely enhanced information to firefighters on the fireground and provided a highly modern and up to date fireground accountability component to be accessed via tablets.

This project was scrapped by the MFB in November 2012 and we understand it was due to budget cuts.

In response, the MFB sought to unilaterally impose a highly inferior ad hoc excel spreadsheet system which would not assist in relation to fireground accountability and would have likely resulted in inaccurate and therefore counterproductive information at incidents.

In accordance with your EBA the UFU filed a dispute in relation to the use of the spreadsheet and sought consultation on the matter.

The MFB however did not bother to consult and attempted to take the UFU to FWC claiming our members were taking unprotected industrial action.

The outcome of that matter set up a consultative process whereby the MFB were required to consult with the UFU regarding a more enhanced fireground accountability system than simply an excel spreadsheet system which could not be updated live on the fire scene.

In consultation the UFU proposed that the MFB investigate an ‘app’ to be placed on MFB issued IPhones which could provide a more up to date picture of exactly who was on the fireground. Out of that consultation process came the FAST Card system which members will now be using.

As part of the FAST Card proposal developed by a UFU and MFB working group, one component suggested was the use of GPS technology to allow those at, and/or managing an incident, to have live vision of appliance location on the fireground.

The UFU in consultative committee meetings was supportive of such technology and sought the development of protocols for its use to ensure that it could be used for fireground accountability purposes.

The UFU proposed numerous versions of these protocols which would allow the MFB to effectively use the GPS technology from the minute an appliance responded to any emergency event until they returned to station.

The MFB has continued to reject the UFU proposals seeking more broad access to the technology but providing the UFU with no valid operational reason as to why such technology would be necessary in other situations.

The MFB have simply demanded the UFU sign a blank cheque to implement a piece of GPS equipment for senior management to use in whatever circumstances and for whatever purposes they want.

In December last year the UFU filed a dispute with FWC seeking the implementation of the technology based on our protocols.

Since then the parties have met at FWC and in line with the Commissioners recommendation (agreed to by the parties) the UFU has exchanged further correspondence with the MFB.

The UFU is still seeking, and will continue to seek, the implementation of GPS technology for fireground accountability in a manner that protects firefighter and community safety.

The UFU is disappointed that the MFB has decided to focus on complaining about UFU behaviour and taking unilateral action.

To be clear the system proposed by the MFB is not agreed and is currently subject to a dispute before the Commission. The UFU is considering the matter further following the MFB’s current aggressive actions.

If members have any queries in relation to this matter please contact the UFU office on 9419 8811.

Strength in Unity


Authorised by Peter Marshall, Branch Secretary