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Illawarra fire stations under threat
CYDONEE MARDON
27 Jun, 2012 12:00 AM
Dapto and Warrawong fire stations are under threat of temporary closure as the service responds to pressure to cut costs, the firefighters’ union says.
From next week, the 24-hour stations could close any time a firefighter went off sick, the Fire Brigade Employees Union said.

Dapto station commander Darin Sullivan said the cost cutting was dangerous and a threat to public safety.

“Usually if someone goes on sick leave we have a spare [firefighter] in the system to fill that hole. Once they are used we would recall an off-duty firefighter,” Mr Sullivan said.

“As of next week, the fire brigade is going to start not filling that vacancy, meaning that truck is not able to respond.”

The directive meant Dapto and Warrawong stations were “under threat of being off-line for the first time”.

“It’s a dangerous situation. There are meetings across the state today and already they’re starting to roll it out,” Mr Sullivan said.

Both stations have one fire truck, an officer and three firefighters 24 hours, seven days a week.

“Now for the first time they will be going off-line to suit the fire brigade budget.”

Mr Sullivan said the move was in response to the NSW Government’s directive to all public services “that they need to cut 1.2 per cent off operational costs”.

Fire & Rescue NSW (FRNSW) said yesterday it was considering taking stations “off-line” to save money but denied any decision had been made.

“A further strategy being discussed is where there is a vacancy, and a full crew is unavailable, certain fire trucks may be temporarily taken off-line,” a spokesman said.

“No decision has been made on whether this strategy will be adopted, nor have any fire stations been identified.”

The service was trying to maximise the attendance of firefighters at work, “thereby minimising absenteeism”.

About Darin Sullivan (1968 Articles)
President of the Fire Brigade Employees’ Union and a professional firefighter with more than 25 years’ experience. Father of two daughters, he lives and works on the NSW South Coast, Australia. He is a strong advocate for firefighters and emergency service workers with an interest in mental health issues and caring for those around him. He is a Director on the NSW Fire Brigades Death and Disability Super Fund and works with charities including ‘The Movember Foundation’. As a leader and activist he has long been active in the campaign for action on climate change. Now a Station Commander in the fire and rescue service in NSW and has decades of experience fighting fires, both rural and urban. He is passionate about highlighting the impact climate change is having on fire preparedness and fire behaviour in Australia, and the risks associated with inaction on climate change. Darin is also a spokesperson for the Australian Climate Media Centre.
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