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“Critical”: Union concerns about a shortage of aviation firefighters at airports across Australia

The “crippled” shortage of aviation firefighters due to headcount reductions during the pandemic has reportedly exposed a major safety gap and urged unions to initiate political and industrial action.

Wes Garrett, secretary of the United Firefighters Union’s aviation branch, said headcount reductions have serious safety implications for Australian air travelers.

He said Airservices Australia reduced the number of firefighters by 94 during the pandemic.

“With the growing demand for airline services, this dramatic staff reduction means that there are not enough aviation firefighters to safely and effectively support Australia’s aviation rescue fire service network. “He said.

Garrett said the number of firefighters at Sydney Airport has dropped from 94 to 77.

In Melbourne, the number decreased from 91 to 65, and on the Gold Coast it decreased from 31 to 21.

He said it was a similar situation at many large airports throughout Australia.

“As a result of these staff cuts, the rest of the firefighters are forced to work excessively overtime to cover the shifts needed to ensure the protection of air travelers and airport workers,” he said. Told.

Camera iconAccording to the United Firefighters Union, Airservices Australia reduced the number of firefighters by 94 during a pandemic. credit: supply

“In some places, aviation firefighters have little or no opportunity to take leave and are exhausted, raising serious concerns about fatigue management.”

A spokesman for Airservices Australia told NCA NewsWire that some team members chose to retire early.

Airservices is also actively hiring, with 48 firefighters this year and 72 firefighters next year.

“The staffing requirements for air rescue fire services at 27 of Australia’s busiest airports are regulated by the Civil Aviation Safety Authority and continue to meet all service requirements for air rescue fire services across the country,” said a spokesperson. I am saying.

Garrett said the level of protection offered at Australian airports is often below regulatory requirements.

“There were 17 firefighters working at ARFFS in Precovid, Sydney and Melbourne. Today, there are only 11 of them,” he said.

“Current levels of personnel in Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane and Adelaide are sufficient to control fires, leave trucks, board crashed aircraft and assist or rescue passengers in a timely manner. There are no aviation firefighters.

“There is an unstable balance between our ability to save lives and the time it takes us to respond.

“Emergency response is unpredictable. Time-critical. Aircraft intervention is time-critical. Determining the ability to intervene and save lives is a matter of minutes and seconds.”

Generic Qantas airliner standing at the airport apron in Sydney.
Camera iconGarrett said the level of protection offered at Australian airports is often below regulatory requirements. credit: News Corp Australia

However, an Air Service spokesperson said Garrett’s claim was wrong.

“We continue to meet all service requirements nationwide to ensure the safety of airlines, airports and travelers,” they said.

The union has launched a new campaign entitled “Three Minutes to Live-Keep Our Sky Safe” to draw urgent attention to this issue.

The title reflects an aviation firefighter who takes only three minutes to respond before an aviation fuel fire breaks into an aircraft cabin.

Garrett said the campaign was targeted at all parties opposed to federal elections.

The union calls for an urgent review of Australia’s compliance with international aviation safety regulations. We want to address the shortage of aviation firefighters and oppose the privatization of aviation firefighters in remote areas and regional airports.

Following the collapse of corporate negotiations that began last October, Garrett said aviation firefighters also voted to take protected industrial action.

“Air firefighters have run out of recreational vacation balances, provided roster flexibility outside the framework of corporate negotiation agreements, and accepted vacation payments rather than wages, all of which Airservices Covid-19 Pandemic. Helps manage the economic impact of the firefighters, “he said.

Firefighters are engaged in industrial activities.
Camera iconFirefighters are engaged in industrial activities. credit: supply

“Aviation services have also reduced 94 firefighters from service through a retirement incentive scheme, which has negatively impacted our ability to fully staff aviation firefighting services at numerous stations across the country. . “

Over the last five years, firefighters have averaged 1.2% annual wage increases and inflation has averaged 1.8% annually.

“Currently, Airservices is offering only a 0.95% increase in the first year, and there is no clear forecast of wage increases in the second and third years,” Garrett said.

“Our members say it’s enough and we want a wage increase that is comparable to and not exceeds the cost of living.”

Garrett said protected industrial action began with firefighters not responding to corporate emails and refusing to wear official uniforms on duty, except for personal protective clothing.

“Air firefighters also have restrictions on overtime allocation, and instead of having rostered firefighters add extra time to the shift, Airservices will bring back additional firefighters for a full shift. We are demanding that we cover the additional time, “he said.

“Public security has always been our main consideration and our protected industrial behavior does not compromise the safety of air travelers.”

An Airservices spokesperson said the organization is continuing to negotiate “in good faith” to reach a fair agreement consistent with the government’s public sector workplace policy.

“Critical”: Union concerns about a shortage of aviation firefighters at airports across Australia

Source link “Critical”: Union concerns about a shortage of aviation firefighters at airports across Australia

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