FIRE stations could be shut down when firefighters call in sick under new budget-cutting measures being considered by Fire and Rescue NSW.
The new strategy would see stations closed when they don’t have the mandatory four crew members to man a truck.
Currently, if a crew member calls in sick, existing staff may be asked to work overtime for a few hours until a relief crew member arrives to cover the absent staff member.
But the new strategy would see the fire truck taken off-line and the remaining members of the crew being sent out to other stations as relief staff.
For stations like Mona Vale, Avalon, Dee Why and Forestville – which only have one full crew – this means the station would be unmanned.
A spokeswoman for Fire and Rescue NSW confirmed the rescue agency was considering strategies to assist in cost savings.
“The key FRNSW strategy is to maximise the attendance of firefighters at work, thereby minimising absenteeism which may otherwise incur over-time costs,” she said.
“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. However no decision has been made on whether this strategy will be adopted, nor have any fire stations been identified.”
Fire Brigade Employees Union state secretary Jim Casey said the state government had cut $64 million from the service’s wage bill over four years and had requested that budget savings be found by next week.
>Mona Vale, Narrabeen, Avalon, Dee Why, Forestville, Manly.
“This will inevitably impact community safety and firefighter’s conditions,” he said.