Campaign To Keep Sawtell Fire Station From Temporary Closures

The Fire Brigade Employees’ Union and local residents want Sawtell Fire & Rescue Station permanently open.

 

THE Fire Brigade Employees’ Union is fighting in the Industrial Relations Commission against Fire & Rescue NSW implementing an order which would allow Sawtell Fire & Rescue Station to be temporarily closed in the event of a staffing shortage.

The union says that closing a fire station deprives the 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, which has major risks for firefighter and community safety.

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The state Secretary of the Union, Martin Dixon said, “The population of NSW is growing by over 100,000 people every single year, which 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.”

According to Mr Dixon, fire stations without sufficient safe crewing levels are currently supplemented by other firefighters at overtime rates.

Fire & Rescue NSW will allow for temporary shutdowns of a station when there is a staffing shortage.

When contacted by News Of The Area, a Fire & Rescue NSW spokesperson responded that “the practice of taking fire trucks temporarily off-line is partly a result of changing demographics, improvements in technology, and a more modern understanding of fire safety and risks”.

The spokesperson also said that a fire truck is only temporarily taken ‘offline’ when there are more than enough resources in the area to respond to emergencies.

As well, Fire & Rescue NSW says its network of coverage is managed centrally from communication centres and is able to provide rapid emergency responses based on the fastest available resources, independent of the locations of fixed fire stations.

The spokesperson said that the needs of the community are always taken into account when making a decision to take a resource offline.

Mr Dixon said that the community needed to support local firefighters.

He said, “We encourage people to write to their local State Member of Parliament, write to the Minister for Police and Emergency Services, write to the Commissioner of Fire and Rescue NSW, and make your voices heard.”

 

By Andrew VIVIAN

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