Fire stations "business as usual"

Published: 21st November 2012

Fire & Rescue NSW (FRNSW) Commissioner Greg Mullins said tonight that claims by the Fire Brigade Employees’ Union (FBEU) that 24 fire stations were taken offline today were both untrue and irresponsible.

“The facts are that of the 20 fire trucks across NSW temporarily offline for varying periods today, 17 were ‘business as usual’ in an arrangement that the FBEU agreed to back in 2008. Three other trucks were taken offline as part of a new arrangement cleared by the Industrial Relations Commission last Friday.” Commissioner Mullins said.

In 2008, the FBEU secured pay rises for firefighters on the basis of new arrangements that included the ability to take stations crewed by on-call firefighters offline where locations could be protected by other nearby full time fire crews, as well as taking bushfire tankers offline when the bushfire danger is not severe.

Commissioner Mullins said that the FBEU was well aware of the arrangements. “Locations like Ingleburn and Riverstone, where stations are staffed by on-call crews, are easily covered by other full time crews. We have routinely taken these stations offline since 2008 without any impact on public safety.”

Last Friday, the IRC cleared the way for FRNSW to take a small number of full time stations offline temporarily when there are staff vacancies, after the FBEU failed to suggest any other ways of curbing a blowout in overtime costs.

“The new arrangements have seen a maximum of one fire crew out of 100 in Sydney taken offline to reduce costs – we routinely take between 10-15 fire crews offline for training, bushfire hazard reduction burns and other reasons in Sydney. Each night this week, including tonight, there have been no stations offline. The FBEU is being disingenuous and is needlessly causing alarm”.