We live in probably the most fire prone country in the world yet we do not have enough services on hand to combat those fires in an emergency.
Currently the Ballina shire is serviced by retained firefighters from Fire and Rescue NSW at fire stations at Ballina and Alstonville. Other parts of the shire, such as Lennox Head, are serviced by volunteer firefighters in the Rural Fire Service.
Ballina council has passed numerous motions calling for permanent firefighters to be stationed at Ballina, and Country Labor candidate for Ballina, Asren Pugh, has added his voice to council and the Ballina community for permanent firefighters to be located at Ballina.
Mr Pugh says it is a safety issue. ‘Our community has long demanded that the Ballina Shire be serviced by permanent firefighters.
‘The current professional retained firefighters and the volunteers of the Rural Fire Service do a fantastic job, but they need to be supported by full time permanent firefighters.’
Mr Pugh says that the population of Ballina Shire is due to overtake Lismore by the end of this year. ‘Lismore has permanent firefighters on 24 hours a day, 7 days per week. Ballina is again missing out.’
Permanent firefighters will enable better community engagement, better fire safety and response planning for Ballina and safety education through schools programs. It would also enable the expansion of the highly successful Smoke Alarm and Battery Replacement (SABRE) program that enables seniors and people with a disability to get their smoke alarms checked and replaced by a professional firefighter.
‘I have been raising this issue with the Shadow Minister for Emergency Services, Mr Guy Zangari, and have bought him to Ballina so he can meet with the Deputy Mayor and get a first hand look at the situation.’
In response to Mr Pugh’s advocacy Mr Zangari said that Mr Pugh had been raising the matter of permanent firefighters in Ballina with him for months. ‘He has made it very clear that this is one of his priorities and that more resources are needed by the Ballina community,’ said Mr Zangari.
‘We are currently developing our policies for the next election but with such large population growth it is clear that Ballina needs more resources to ensure the safety of the community.’