Firefighters, Union of Firefighters Question Decision to Temporarily Disconnect More NSW Fire and Rescue Stations Amid Staff Shortages | Newcastle Herald

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Workers and the union representing firefighters are calling on Fire and Rescue NSW not to add a handful of Hunter facilities to a list of stations that can be temporarily taken offline in the event of staff shortages. But the emergency agency said the practice had taken place in various parts of the state since 2008 and would not impact service delivery in that region. The Newcastle Herald understands that Paxton, Maitland, Minmi, Teralba and Swansea – stations where successful firefighters work, on call – would be added to the list, as part of the plan. The move would mean that trucks, which Fire and Rescue NSW refer to as “mobile assets, from nearby stations would respond to emergencies in those areas when crew numbers are insufficient. Wallsend MP Sonia Hornery, whose electorate includes Minmi, said she feared a “cost-cutting” measure could put communities at risk. “Taking any fire station offline deprives a local community of a critical emergency response, leaving any response to fire stations further away and reducing the number of fire trucks in any incident,” she declared. “The community deserves their fire truck to stay on the line. They pay their taxes, they pay their emergency tax through their insurance and rate notices, and to deprive them of their fire protection anyway would be an insult.” Union Fire Department Secretary of State Martin Dixon said staffing shortages should be addressed by addressing the agency’s broader “understaffing and underfunding”. “At the moment, fire stations without sufficient manpower are supplemented by other firefighters at overtime rates, which is necessary to keep our communities safe,” he said in a statement on last month. Responding to questions from the Herald this week, Jeremy Fewtrell, deputy commissioner of NSW firefighting and rescue operations, said the agency was not cutting service delivery or shutting down fire stations. “The practice of temporarily taking fire trucks offline at some guard posts has been in place for over a decade and was introduced with the support of unions,” he said. “FRNSW fire trucks are part of a mobile network of resources that do not stay permanently stationed at stations. All trucks have automatic vehicle tracking to allow the nearest and most appropriate truck to respond. “Trucks will only be temporarily taken offline if it is safe to do so and there are other trucks in the network that could respond quickly to an incident. Fire and Rescue NSW has yet to respond to questions from the Herald regarding the state of staffing levels. Hunter’s area, but worked at stations in Greater Sydney, have been called in to cover staff shortages in that area. . IN THE NEWS: Our reporters work hard to provide local and up-to-date news to the community. Access our trusted content: