Mandatory vaccination for NSW RFS volunteer members
Published Date: 14 Feb 2022
The RFS has nearly 2,000 brigades in communities across the state.
These brigades are entirely dependent on the goodwill of volunteers, giving up their time to help others. In some of these communities, the RFS does not merely respond to bush fires, volunteers are often the first responders in these locations, responding to life or death situations. Some of these communities rely on Village and Rescue brigades, with other emergency services often up to an hour away.
The RFS sought to understand not only the views of volunteer brigades on vaccination, but also whether the decision to introduce mandatory vaccination would impact on each brigade’s ability to respond.
The feedback has shown nearly 80 percent of brigades either support mandatory vaccination or would be no worse off if it was introduced.
For 424 brigades who did not support it, or where there would be significant impact on the brigade’s ability to respond to local emergencies, the RFS will urgently work with those brigades to understand any local issues and how mandatory vaccination can be implemented so service delivery continues.
In limited cases, there may be exemptions to ensure that brigade can continue to respond to emergencies in their area.
The RFS will also be urgently working to increase the number of volunteers who have reported their vaccination status to the Service.
It’s expected this process will be complete by 30 June 2022 at the latest, and members who are unable to prove their vaccination status will be moved into a ‘Reserve’ membership category.
This means that Reserve members may only be used at the authorisation of the Brigade Captain where an operational response cannot be carried out due to a lack of available members.
In these instances, Reserve members will be restricted to response in their local area only.