JUST hours after an industrial relations dispute sparked the closure of fire stations, a blaze took hold of a house at Lurnea.
Busby fire station was among 25 stations temporarily closed when an industrial dispute between Fire and Rescue NSW (FRNSW) and the Fire Brigade Employees’ Union (FBEU) escalated on October 20.
Despite this, a FRNSW spokesman said crews responded according to “normal procedures”.
About 10.25pm the Liverpool fire crew was called to Frazer Ave with reports of smoke in the area.
When firefighters arrived they found a house alight.
“It is standard procedure to send the closest available crews to incidents and, with Busby offline, the next closest crews responded,” the FRNSW spokesman said. Crews from Horningsea Park and Bonnyrigg Heights responded but were called off before they arrived, as the Liverpool crew had managed to contain the blaze.
The crew from Cabramatta attended and, although short-staffed, provided assistance.
The industrial dispute relates to the staffing of logistic support vehicles by injured firefighters on light duties and the medical retirement of others.
Believing its concerns were being ignored, the union put the relieving ban in place from 8am that day, meaning on-shift firefighters had to return to their base stations and not fill staff shortages at others. In response that afternoon, FRNSW closed stations instead of recalling off-duty firefighters and paying overtime to fill all shortages. FBEU NSW secretary Jim Casey said FRNSW was “incredibly lucky” the Lurnea house was empty and no one was hurt.
“Our modest bans should never have been escalated by the department to that point,” Mr Casey said.
The FRNSW spokesman said “the actions taken by FRNSW were necessary to ensure that there were sufficient resources to respond to emergencies”