Kids fighting with fire and government in NSW
A vist by firemen to a Botany childcare centre has inspired children to take up the fight to save local fire stations from a plan that could take eight Sydney fire stations offline each day. Children and staff at Hippo’s Friends Childcare Centre have started a petition they hope will help keep firies in the local area.
The children have also written letters to send to Botany Bay Council, including that of Xanthe Craine, 4, who says she is very worried about the safety of the community. Centre director Heike Busch said it was the children’s right to demand safety in light of a state government directive to begin temporarily closing fire stations to reduce the wage bill.
Under the plans local firefighters would fill shortages elsewhere on the days the local stations were closed.
“We want the children to understand they have a voice to fight for something…that they have a right to an opinion, and to be loud and to be heard,” Ms Busch said.
A local fireman, who asked not to be named, said the cost-cutting measures would put the community safety at risk. He said the fire risk was high in the southeast because of the high rate of industry and social housing.
“Our concerns are not just as a fireman, but as a dad, a husband and a house owner,” he said.
“When I’m on night shift I hope there isn’t a fire at my house. Response times will be affected.”
On Thursday NSW’s industrial umpire ordered the government to suspend its plan for another week while unions and Fire and Rescue NSW continue discussions about cost-cutting measures. NSW Fire and Rescuente Commissioner Greg Mullins said fire stations could be taken offline “without compromising our response-time capabilities”.