United Firefighters Union Australia



Our Union belongs to you, our 858 professional Aviation Firefighter members. To remain strong, it needs your support, your input and your actions. 

FLASHPOINT is your Newsletter, so read it, be informed, share it, contribute to it.


A Strong, Engaged, and Unified Membership
puts the balance of Power back to you!

Speak Up and Have your Say!

'Strength In Unity - Proud to be Union'


Your UFUA Aviation Branch

Branch Committee of Management

Hayden West BCOM ACT
Zac van Loenhout BCOM NT
Wes Garrett BCOM SA
Justin Hunter BCOM SQ
John Ring BCOM NQ
Rory Thomas McCabe BCOM Vic
Simon Owen BCOM Tas
Chris Jones BCOM WA
James Young BCOM NSW

Workplace Delegates

Sam Vincent (Sydney)
Dennis Nixon (Port Hedland)
Ash Peeler (Avalon)
Ken Balmer (Ayers Rock)
David Tromba (Mackay)
Warren Chappell (Broome)
Chris Day (Brisbane)
Nick Feeney (Gladstone)
Steve Crockford (Coffs Harbour)

Trevor Rogers (Coolangatta)
Chris Stephens (Ballina)
Dan Thompson (Adelaide) 
Michael McDonald (Canberra)
Mick Hankin (Hamilton Island)
Nigel Cristaldi (Cairns)
Matt Starkey (Newman)
Paul OConnor (Perth)
Rick Nolan (Darwin)
Glen Laurie (Melbourne)
Mick Greenway (Townsville)
Kris Tilley (Karratha)
Simon Dowling (Alice Springs)
Matt West (Launceston)
Matt Crighton (Rockhampton)
Pat Shanahan (Maroochydore)



Branch Executive

Branch Secretary: Mark von Nida
Branch President: Rob Skelton
Senior Vice President: Simon Owen
Junior Vice President: Rory Thomas McCabe

Legal Counsel:

Melita Bozin
Dr Alison Ballard

Administration Officer:

Julie Wiggins

Please seriously consider having a go we will support you and train you.

Strong Union = Better Life.

Help us to Help You. 


President’s Report


                     Please check out our updated website. A big thanks to our Brisbane Member Jean Hancock for overhauling our tired old website. Its not done yet but it will soon be hosting all sorts of information and resources for HSR's and Workplace Delegates to assist them in protecting you, your safety and your workplace rights. If you were provided access before it should still work. If not sign up make sure you use your real name and where you are based so we can ensure only members get access to the members only areas.

The union also congratulates John Massey for 45 years dedicated service. We wish him all the best in a long, happy and healthy retirement. Well done John our Cairns members have nothing but praise for you so you must have done something right for 45 years.

A big welcome also to our new firefighters well done on passing the recruit course and welcome to our big UFUA family. You are now one of us so if you have a problem its our problem, don't suffer alone, let us know, let us help. Thanks also to the instructors who worked hard to pass on the knowledge and skills you will need to keep you safe in your career.

In Unity,

Rob Skelton

Perth ARFFS in action at a Mutual Aide Fire near the airport. If you attended this incident ensure your have raised an individual CIRRIS report. This will ensure any contamination you were exposed to is recorded and we can track your attendance and any links to health issues in the future.
Join us on Facebook there are now two official UFUAV pages one open to Public one secret members only. We also have an Instagram Account we are slowly transferring all the UFUA's photo collection over to so have a look, like or follow us it all helps to get our message out to the public.

Well its been another big month for your UFUA. As many of you are aware we are in the process of taking Airservices to Federal Court for deliberate underpayment of our most vulnerable members at the last three recruit courses. We had a meeting in Canberra with their lawyers Ashurst and are refining our submission before filing. This case will also cover our members Airservices classed as local recruits out in Karratha and Port Hedland.

There are a lot issues that your union is trying to sort out and we apologise if your particular issue has been delayed due to the workload. In no particular order here is a list of what your union is currently working on.

The first actual Task resource Analysis was conducted in Ballina recently. Our VP Simon Owen attended to ensure nothing untoward happened. Airservices is refusing to pay for Simons attendance at these TRA's despite that we are officially representing over 98% of the operational firefighters and every other Airservices employee being paid to attend. In fact they specifically requested Simon personally as the UFUA's representative when the union was obliged to take them to Fair Work Australia to force them to consult over the TRA. This kind of petulant behaviour is par for the course with Airservices unfortunately, at the end of the day its our members money so their behaviour is just hurting the 98% of their staff that we represent, not the Union Officials.

Fire Commander Trevor Rogers  attended the second TRA held on Hamilton Island this week. He has raised serious concerns with the process and we will be taking this to the ARFFS EGM, CASA, the Minister and the Senate. Members in Ballina are now quite concerned that the short falls in service delivery highlighted by their TRA process have yet to be addressed and there does not appear to be any action plan in place from the TRA process. Will these obvious deficiencies in safe and effective service provision have to just wait till they get around to it? Bit like the CABA procedures how long have they been deliberately stalling on these being properly introduced? Your UFUA will ensure that our most experienced members represent you at all TRA's to ensure an operationally focused and effective result.

West Footscray Fire Sect 82, Airservices has provided your union with no information and no consultation and had until the 28th June before we raised this issue again with Comcare. We are planning on raising the Sect 82 with Comcare early July. The Kewdale fire in Perth looks to be another example of how ARFFS lack of proper Decontamination procedures leaves our members at risk and reliant on the State Fire Services to fill this procedural void.

We have around six Comcare claim issues that we are assisting our members with at present. One is currently at administrative appeals tribunal (AAT), another was provided a direction by AAT that Comcare reneged on and we have warned Comcare of immediate legal action if they try and ignore the tribunals directions. Comcare is trying hard to stop claims where ever they can so talk to us first we can help. Our Lawyer Mel Bozin is very good at dealing with Comcare so talk to us first.

We have a retired member that has successfully overturned a negative decision by Comcare and will be paid out in the near future. This was only after Comcare again reneged on the directions they initially agreed too. The FOI information this retired member received showed clear evidence of Airservices providing negative and incorrect information regarding our retired member which adversely affected his claim. Your union will be following up on this information as well with possible defamation action against the person responsible.

We have another retired member that has instigated FOI on the UFUA's advice to see what Airservices has been telling Comcare about his claim as well. Again we believe they have provided incorrect information based on rumours to avoid accountability and we will track down who is responsible and take appropriate legal action in every instance of this behaviour that we uncover.

Our Lawyers are assisting another retired member who has had an operation on an already accepted injury refused, based again on the flimsiest of excuses. Hopefully we will overturn this unfair decision as well.

There has been an investigation completed in Gladstone ARFFS. Your UFUA provided support to all members caught up in this investigation process. It is in your best interests to let us know as soon as possible of any formal interview you may be required to attend and let your UFUA be your support person. This applies even if you are just a witness to someone else's investigation, call us and ask for us to be your support. We can do it on the phone or on video or if its serious enough we can fly there and sit with you.

There is an Issue in Rockhampton we are watching closely and will ensure all our members are afforded natural justice as required under our EA.

The Union has also been asked to follow up on an investigation conducted in Perth which does not appear to have been properly conducted and caused several of our members great concern for a while. We will be following up on all the issues raised by the way this investigation was implemented and conducted.

We are about to take a matter to Racial discrimination over Airservices treatment of one of our indigenous members. We are hoping this will fix his issues and avoid his health being adversely affected by the continued lack of proper support and consideration by Airservices.

There are also the usual breaches that we deal with on a regular basis unfortunately:
  • Clause 39 clothing
  • Defence leave
  • Long Service Leave
  • Higher duties 
  • Lack of Consultation
In the middle of all that we also had one of our members informed he is to be terminated in Launceston so we have put our legal team onto that issue as a priority. Your Branch Secretary was there to conduct an investigation and discuss the proposed termination with the teams in that location. We are dealing with the Airservices Senior Legal Counsel.

We took two issues to FWA on Wednesday 26th the first one over lack of consultation about the EVT's workforce planning and restructure. The FWA Commissioner supported us in this claim and Airservices is to consult with the UFUA before making any final decisions around the EVT workforce. Hopefully we can attempt to influence a better outcome than the last restructure that seriously crippled the EVT's ability to ensure we have safe and reliable vehicles and equipment ready at all times.

The second issue was around Airservices behaviour when the union commenced using our powers under right of entry. Although we had plenty of examples of unreasonable behaviour by their lawyer the FWA Commissioner did not support us. This matter is still open for three weeks and I know at least in Perth a lot of our members don't feel any closure over the way they were treated, the complete lack of any apology from Airservices and the apparent lack of any real disciplinary action against the people responsible for some very serious Code of Conduct breaches. Its hard not to look in rear view mirror if the carnage behind you was never dealt with properly.

It seems like the removal of our firefighting badges is underway. The EGM may have made a fuss about uniform shorts being a poor look but he is removing your badge from your uniform. Is he embarrassed to be a firefighter? He wants to call himself a Commissioner while he is obviously trying to take away your identity as firefighters well. These are the same jokers who said wearing your UFUA T Shirt during PIA was a security risk. What does wearing an Airservices logo mean to anyone?

Our advise is to keep wearing your proper ARFFS uniform, time for the FC's and LOM's to stand up and be heard for a change.

Below is a good news story about how a claim under the presumptive legislation should work, good on Safe Work QLD for getting it right. If you are going to claim see us first and let our lawyers guide you through the claim so you don't get refused. Or so we can go into bat for you as soon as possible if they try anything on.
F/F Cancer Story
We have completed a lot of work on upgrading our UFUAV Website.

It will have access to all the latest correspondence and issues your UFU is working on.  It will have resources for Delegates and HSRs. 

There is still more to do to make it a great site. We will need all members to apply for access to the members only pages if you don't already have access.

Jean Hancock from Brisbane has done a great job cleaning it up for us so a big thanks to Jean. He is also working on our App which should also help us improve direct coms straight to our members devices. 

A Message from Your Legal Team

Mel and I are in the process of compiling a new guide for our members called ‘Aviation Rescue Firefighters: Employee Rights, Obligations & Information’.  If there are any topics you would like to see covered please let us know. This will be a living (and growing) document and hopefully one that will help you in your employment, particularly if you find yourself facing challenging circumstances at work. Forearmed is forewarned!

Our ideas for content include things like what to if you face a workplace investigation, performance improvement plan or other potentially detrimental or career-ending ‘management’ process, the presumptive legislation relating to compensation for firefighters, what is post-traumatic stress and how to deal with it, the legislation that covers your employment, interesting and relevant case law, and importantly, your rights at work.

We will probably also include a Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) section, so if you have any pressing legal questions please let us know!

The most recent WAFA (
Women and Firefighting Australia Inc) talks about the hashtag #CelebratingWomenInFirefighting? and how we all (women and men) can do a number of simple things to ‘amplify’ or promote our fantastic female firefighters. I thought it would be useful to include it here.

Let’s encourage and sponsor our colleagues by doing things like ‘Send out a LinkedIn update saying ‘look at what this wonderful woman is doing’; amplify the efforts of women around you. Speak up for other women; get them involved in a new project or a new team. Amplification is a really achievable thing for women and I think the readers found it incredibly inspiring and really practical. I think with those two things coming hand in hand they feel some relief and as though they have a bit of control." Taken from the book by Catherine Fox.

To read more about amplification and how men can help, follow the link to read an interview with Catherine Fox 

On that note, we’d like to congratulate QFES Commissioner Katarina Carroll on her appointment as the new Queensland Police Commissioner. Katarina has done great work in promoting diversity and inclusion in the fire, police and emergency services.

This past month a lot of our time has been taken up looking at a number of discrimination, misconduct and other employment issues for our members. So, don’t forget that we are here and here to help and support all of you.

What is Discrimination in the Workplace?
Essentially this happens when you or a number of people are treated less favorably than another person or group of people, because of certain characteristics.
The characteristics under the Fair Work Act 2009 include:
·         race;
·         gender;
·         family or carer’s responsibilities;
·         sexual orientation;
·         physical or mental disability;
·         religion; or
·         political opinion.
In addition to the Fair Work Act 2009, there are also other federal and state antidiscrimination laws that prevent discrimination. These additional provisions are provided for in the following federal laws;
·         Age Discrimination Act 2004;
·         Australian Human Rights Commission Act 1986;
·         Disability Discrimination Act 1992;
·         Racial Discrimination Act 1975; and
·         Sex Discrimination Act 1984
Discrimination can also be direct or indirect. Direct discrimination is, whereby a person is treated less favorably because of a certain characteristic.
Indirect discrimination is whereby a condition is imposed and has the effect of disadvantaging a certain group, and is not reasonable.

National WHS Coordinator



Firefighters need to practice self-care before caring for others

Can you name one machine that doesn’t require maintenance? I can’t. There might be one (I’m a firefighter, not a machinist), but for the most part, all the equipment we operate requires regular maintenance. Fire apparatus requires constant upkeep ranging from oil changes and tire rotation to pump service testing and windscreen wiper replacement. Firefighters wouldn’t ignore servicing their turnout gear or completing regular testing to ensure their CABA Face Piece is sealing properly. However, the one machine that gets overlooked the most is the one reading this article.

The human body is indeed a machine that must be maintained. For good physical health, we must maintain good hygiene standards, abide by recommended dietary and exercise regimes, and have regular physical check-ups to make sure everything is running the way it should.

Self-care is about addressing our mental health, taking note of our stress levels and the toll it takes on our body.



Self-care is more than just brushing our teeth twice a day and getting in a workout. Self-care is about addressing our mental health, taking note of our stress levels and the toll it takes on our body, and taking action to address our stress. In the public safety field, we spend so much time and energy trying to help others that we so easily overlook helping ourselves.

Engaging in self-care is a personal preference aimed at doing something that relieves your stress. For many, exercise provides that release; exercise has proven to increase happiness and relieve stress through the release of endorphins. For others, it may be taking time for a favourite hobby such as fishing, hiking or art.


According to Harvard Medical School and the Department of Psychiatry at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston, there is clear evidence that myocardial infarction, stroke, depression, anxiety, and even some disease-prone immune processes, including pro-inflammation, are all common disease denominators that are critically associated with stress.

What this all means is preventative care is critical to your overall health. Before you start a tough workout, don’t you take the time to stretch and warm-up first? If you want to avoid catching a cold, don’t you wash your hands appropriately and avoid being around others who are sick? We all know preventative measures help us avoid injuries and illness, so why don’t we take the time to address what is causing us stress? Although stress is not always preventable, we can all learn how to better manage our stress so it doesn’t cause adverse health effects.  



One common term we hear in public safety is “burnout.” This is a result of a lack of self-care. Everyone has ups and downs in their jobs, but burnout occurs from continually bottling up stress and not caring for one’s self.

Just like a fire, burnout and the consequences from high levels of stress can get out of control.

Whether it’s engaging in an outdoor activity, reinvigorating your artistic creativity, or simply taking five minutes each day to sit in a quiet room undisturbed and focus on your breathing, don’t neglect self-care. It’s the ongoing maintenance you need to take care of yourself so you can take care of others.


We always need to be mindful and regularly reminded that it is OK to struggle sometimes, it is OK to ask for help and more can be done to praise our peers who are reaching out for help. Be Brave, Be honest.

Your UFUA is sponsoring two of our members to attend the Fearless conference on the Sunshine Coast. We have been informed by our members that just like the WHS/HSR's in Airservices being run into the ground the Peer Support is in even worse shape.

We asked if Airservices would like to partner with your UFUA to start this process of renewal for our Peer support but we were told, NO. Just like they said NO about having an ARFFS Chaplain for you to call at anytime night or day. As always actions speak louder than words so your UFUA will go it alone.

Tim Limmer

Tinder Profile Swipe Right.

G'day, I'm Zack, Leading Fire Fighter at Darwin ARFFs. I've been in the Territory for about 10 years now. Originally from Nhulunbuy in East Arnhem Land, NT. I spent some time in North West Victoria and then up in Weipa, FNQ before coming back to Darwin 10 years ago to finish school and chase the dream job.

I've been a member of the UFUA since I joined the job in 2014. I became a bit more involved and interested during the PIA last year, chatting to Rick Nolan, former BCOM in the NT. When he said he wanted to step away from the position I put my hand up to give this BCOM a crack.

Seeing what happens around the country in regards to the union and how united we are in all regions within the union was incredible to see and understand at the last BCOM meeting. I'm proud to be union and I hope to pass that on to everyone who joins and is already apart of the UFUA.

In unity,

Zack Van Loenhout
Northern Territory

Coode Island was one Australia's largest chemical fires. ARFFS staff and vehicles attended and fought the fire over several days.

Your UFUA is concerned that some of those in attendance have now contracted cancer. We need to investigate this fire further to see whether there really is a cancer cluster among those who attended this fire.

We have contacted Vic Branch for help but they also have not kept files this far back showing who attended. I have asked the ARFFS EGM for help in identifying which firefighters from ARFFS attended

UFUA Photo Library
If you have any ARFFS photos share them with us. We need to start a collection now before they are all lost.

As a member of the United Firefighters Union Aviation Branch you have access to the Union Shopper and the great deals and benefits that entails. Click the button below and register now to begin saving. Just another reason why it pays to belong to your UFUA.

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United Firefighters Union (Aviation Branch)
Unit 3/88 Flinders Pde
North Lakes 4509 QLD
07 3481 0463 or 07 3491 7161
Mob: 0490488349

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 We acknowledge the traditional custodians of the land on which we work. We pay our respects to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander elders, both past and present, and celebrate their cultural contribution to society.
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