A firefighter who suffered facial burns during an explosion has criticised the fire brigade for arguing it should be allowed to send a single fire truck to bin fires in the city.
The Metropolitan Fire Brigade says the requirement to send two fire trucks to every bin fire is an example of the powerful firefighters’ union’s ‘‘enormous control’’ over operations and refusal to change workplace rules.
A fight over the MFB’s bid to tear up a 2010 employment agreement – which management claims is inflexible and gives too much authority to the United Firefighters Union – is entering its second week at the Fair Work Commission. Leading firefighter Andrew Wood, who was badly burned along with another firefighter and three police officers during an explosion at a Middle Park apartment in January, has spoken out against the application to scrap the agreement.
In a witness statement,MrWood recounts how the decision to only deploy one truck of three firefighters to the Middle Park incident left emergency services dangerously under-resourced. Seconds after a gas bottle exploded and left him severely injured, Mr Wood returned to the burning flat to drag two police officers to safety, while his two colleagues doused the flames.
“This is an example of how unpredictable an incident firefighters are tasked to address can be… a seemingly routine call-out can change quickly,’’ he said. ‘‘I never want to be in position where I am responding with only one appliance and three firefighters ever again.’’
The MFB has described the 2010 enterprise agreement as unworkable and illegal. The commission has heard that the agreement restricts management from running the brigade effectively, and goes as far as requiring union approval to shift a truck from one station to another or fit trucks with GPS-enabled smartphones.