Fire & Rescue NSW has been trying for some time to implement an order which would allow Sawtell Fire & Rescue Station to be temporarily taken off-line in the event of a staffing shortage.
This proposal is being fought by the Fire Brigade Employees’ Union in the Industrial Relations Commission.
Taking any fire station offline deprives a local community of a critical emergency response, leaving any response up to fire stations from further away and reducing the number of fire trucks at any incident. This has major risks for firefighter and community safety.
Fire Brigade Employees Union State Secretary, Martin Dixon said “the population of NSW is growing by over 100,000 people every single year. That means more people, more houses, and more vehicles on the roads.
“The NSW Government should be turning its mind to increasing fire services to serve this increasing population, but instead, they want to shut local fire stations down to save money.
“At the moment, fire stations without sufficient safe crewing levels are supplemented by other Firefighters at overtime rates, which is necessary to keep our communities safe. Staffing shortages can be avoided by fixing the critical understaffing and underfunding of the service.
“The Union for Professional Firefighters in NSW, the FBEU, is fighting hard to stop this proposal through every way possible, including through the courts, but we need the help of local communities to fight it.
“We encourage people to write to their local State Member of Parliament, write to the Minister for Police & Emergency Services, write to the Commissioner of Fire & Rescue NSW, and make your voices heard”, Mr Dixon said.
“Support your local firies”
“We want people to let their family and friends know that this Government wants to shut down their local fire station, depriving them and their community of a critical emergency response if anything goes wrong.
“And most importantly,” Dixon said, “we need the community to support our local Firefighters, who are of course at the centre of this proposal. They are doing their best to maintain this vital service, and their employer wants to throw them aside and allow their local community to be exposed. We encourage people to apply for positions at their local Fire & Rescue NSW stations if they’re recruiting, and be sure to thank your local firies for their exceptional work in the community.”
The above is a media release from the NSW Fire Brigade employees Union – Friday 9 September 2021.
Lead photo: Coffs Coast Advocate/Daily Telegraph 18 November 2019