Raelene Davis of Woodburn has lost her regular shifts at her casual job after returning from Sydney as part of a Northern Rivers RFS team helping battle bushfires in the Blue Mountains.
Raelene Davis of Woodburn has lost her regular shifts at her casual job after returning from Sydney as part of a Northern Rivers RFS team helping battle bushfires in the Blue Mountains. Doug Eaton

Volunteer loses shifts after fighting Blue Mountains blaze

WOODBURN Rural Fire Service volunteer Raylene Davis is reeling after returning from helping battle the Sydney bushfires to be told she wouldn't be getting any more shifts at her casual job at Woodburn's Rich River Coffee.

When an emergency situation was declared for the fires on Sunday, October 20, Ms Davis, an airbase operator, was one of 54 Northern Rivers RFS volunteers who travelled to Sydney the following day to assist.

Working at the Richmond RAAF base, Ms Davis was responsible for filling aircraft with fire retardant and gel to battle the blazes.

She also monitored the movements of the 14 aircraft fighting fires from the base, and RFS observation aircraft.

"I was also in the radio room for one and a half days monitoring the aircraft movements to and from the airbase and reporting on them."

After being part of such a valuable community service, Ms Davis said she was gutted to be told she wouldn't be getting any more shifts at her job.

She said she had worked at the cafe casually for five weeks after being offered work by the owners.

"They're locals, I have known them for years and to do that to someone you know isn't very nice."

As the job was her only source of income, Ms Davis started job hunting yesterday.

Rich River Coffee owner Mark, who declined to give his surname, denied Ms Davis had been fired.

Mark said Ms Davis phoned to inform him she was in Sydney and had arranged for another employee to cover her shifts on Thursday and Friday, October 24 and 25.

"We haven't said we aren't going to give her any more shifts, that's a load of lies," he said.

"She won't get her regular shifts for leaving us in the lurch like she did.

"She will get work when we can find her work."

He said the busy shop was "left in the lurch" on Thursday when the other employee couldn't cover Ms Davis's shift.

Yesterday, Ms Davis informed the Rural Fire Service in writing of what had happened.

RFS Northern Rivers operations officer Daniel Ainsworth said the information Ms Davis provided had been sent to RFS head office to see what avenues could be taken to support her.

"The RFS has measures in place to support the welfare of her and her family if required," he said.

As an emergency declaration was issued for the fires, legislation protects RFS volunteers from losing their jobs if they worked full-time and were involved in battling the blazes.

The RFS is investigating whether casual employees are also protected.

If you would like to employ Ms Davis phone 0410 399 491.


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