Fire service cuts put lives at risk – union
LIVES will be put at risk under budget cuts at Fire and Rescue New South Wales, the fire-fighters’ union claims.
The fire brigade will have up to $70 million stripped from its budget over the next four years as part of State Government cost-cutting, the Fire Brigade Employees’ Union (FBEU) says.
The cuts will lead to the short-term closure of some fire stations – possibly within a week – while fire-fighters are redeployed to other local stations that are understaffed.
“The reality is that no one will know if their station has been temporarily shut down due to these budget cuts. Everyone is at risk,” FBEU NSW secretary Jim Casey says in a statement.
“NSW residents will wait longer for trucks to arrive and homes will burn under these cuts.”
The cuts are part of the government’s 1.2 per cent annual labour expense cap which will also see job losses across government departments.
Fire and Rescue NSW Commissioner, Greg Mullins, has also highlighted a need to reign in “very high levels of sick” leave and review overtime.
He highlighted the issue in a letter to the FBEU.
But Mr Casey says blaming sick leave and overtime is “cynical and misleading”.
Fire-fighters were also previously facing cutbacks to the NSW WorkCover compensation scheme, including loss of payouts for injuries suffered while travelling to and from work.
But the State Government exempted them from those cutbacks after a day of industrial action in June.
Mr Casey says there are no immediate plans for further industrial action.