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Video Transcript: Dispelling the myths of taking fire stations temporarily off line

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Title: Interview with Commissioner Greg Mullins

Text only: Dispelling the ‘myths’ of taking fire stations temporarily off line.

Text only question: Why is Fire & Rescue NSW taking fire stations temporarily off line?

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Commissioner Mullins:

We’ve worked very closely with the Fire Brigades Employee’s Union to look at a range of measures to cut overtime, to cut allowances in some instances. They put a package to their membership that was rejected – they voted against it. It leaves us with very little alternative now.

We’re four months into the financial year, we need to make these savings; just like every other agency in government and this is the measure that will make a big impact on overtime, but negligible impact on service delivery.

Text only question: Will this affect how long it takes a fire engine to get to an emergency?

Commissioner Mullins:
Across Sydney there’s about a hundred fire stations, any given time on a weekday there can be up to twenty of those fire stations doing training, going to certain areas to do bushfire hazard reductions, doing a range of different things… prevention work. So, we know that we can take that number of stations off line without affecting our average ten minute response time across the area. What we’re talking about here is taking a maximum of around four stations off line. So, there’s no real impact on the response times.

Text only question: Will Does Fire & Rescue NSW have enough resources to keep the community safe?

Commissioner Mullins:
We’re a very well resourced fire and rescue service. In Sydney for example, there’s about a hundred fire stations, in Newcastle, more than twenty. We can take a small number of stations off line at any given time for: training, hazard reduction burns, or to go and assist with bushfires in other areas without affecting our response times standards. So, this is a very measured approach, we’re only talking about two, three, maybe four fire stations coming off line in Sydney at any given time. We know that won’t impact our response capability

Text only question: Will this affect fire stations in regional NSW?

Commissioner Mullins:
I need to be very clear… this does not apply to regional fire stations in regional NSW. We’re talking about the Sydney Fire District... stretches from Palm Beach to Engadine out to Penrith. Some minor measure in Newcastle and Wollongong, but we’re not talking about regional areas.

Text only question: Is this budget issue unique to Fire & Rescue NSW?

Commissioner Mullins:
Look, we’re not unique. This week we’ve had the Wold Firefighter’s Games in Sydney. Last night, I met with fire chiefs from England, the USA and Canada, the day before, the fire chief from Hong Kong. Every fire service in the world is facing austerity measures. My colleagues interstate – major budget cut-backs. Because across government, people have to cope with the revenue they get and not exceed that. We understand that, we have to do our bit, just like: Health, Education, Police and every other agency. This measure will not impact service delivery.

Text only question: Media reports say fire stations are ‘closing’… should we be concerned?

Commissioner Mullins:
I’d like to reassure the community that despite what they might hear and there might be a bit of scare mongering in the press – I’ve heard that before. This is not going to affect service delivery. We know that we can maintain response times. You have a world class fire and rescue service. Firefighters are men and women who will put their own lives on the line to save others; that will continue happening. We take stations off line every day of the week -- we’ve done it for a hundred years -- we’re just talking about a different measure, this time it’s to reduce overtime. And I think that’s a legitimate use of public resources.

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