Media Release: RFS boss dragging the chain on volunteer vaccination - 11 Feb 2022 - Public Service Association

Media Release: RFS boss dragging the chain on volunteer vaccination – 11 Feb 2022

Rural Fire Service Commissioner Robert Rogers is yet to require COVID-19 vaccinations for volunteers, despite a mandate for salaried RFS officers and all other NSW volunteers.

The Public Service Association said members who are employed by RFS as well workers with firefighting duties in National Parks and Wildlife Services and the State Forest Corporation have consistently raised concerns about the vaccination status of RFS volunteers.

“RFS is the only remaining emergency service that hasn’t mandated vaccinations for its volunteers – there is no reason for this other than an apparent lack of leadership from RFS Commissioner Rob Rogers,” said PSA assistant secretary Troy Wright. “The majority of those who give their time to RFS, either paid or voluntarily, want to see their colleagues vaccinated – RFS needs to stop dragging the chain on this.

“Vollies and members are saying they don’t necessarily want to jump in a truck or chopper with someone who has chosen not to get vaccinated. In an emergency there is no time to quickly swab your nose for rapid test – the only practical solution is a vaccine mandate for everyone in the emergency services.”

The union has been seeking an urgent meeting with Minister for Emergency Services and Resilience Stephanie Cooke for the past two weeks.

“RFS volunteers do vital work and vaccine mandates are in effect across the rest of NSW’s volunteer sector – so why is RFS Commissioner Rogers dragging the chain on this? Why does Minister Cooke keep letting him kick the can down the road?”

The union said while NSW had escaped serious bushfires so far this season it was still possible. RFS volunteers also join search and rescue efforts, respond to traffic accidents, and support other emergency efforts.

“Do we really want to risk turning a natural disaster into a super spreading event? If the Commissioner is concerned about losing volunteers he needs to stop hiding under the covers and front up so we can all work on promoting vaccination.”

Troy Wright 0488 373 209

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