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March 9, 2021

Ballina needs permanent firefighters for a safer community

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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.’

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  1. You would think that in a civilized society where taxes are paid by its citizens that essential emergency services were employed positions by the state.
    That fact that the RFS is made up of volunteers who out of the goodness of their hearts risk life and limb for their community.
    The state has never received more tax dollars than it does today yet the supply of essential and emergency services is held together be a few paid fire and rescue and a bunch of volunteers.
    For all the “improvements” being funded I don’t see the country getting any better.

  2. Maybe they should take Lismore Back to special roster (i.e. coverage during business hours when CBD and population is at peak) and let Lismore Retained cover nights (when the Permanent are paid to sleep)

    Then, using the extra funds recouped from that, create special roster for Ballina too, again letting retained cover nights, same benefits for balling too.

    • Should a fire happen in the middle of the night you will be glad that permanents are paid to “sleep”

      The residents of Ballina already pay for full time fire fighters in their rates like the rest of the population in Australia that get that service, the government has just chosen to use the money else where, it’s not a funding issue.

    • Hi Mario,
      If an emergency service is about saving funds maybe the retained staff should only be paid if they respond on the fire truck. Having approx 18 people paid the hourly rate plus kms when only 4 actually respond to the incident. Leave approx 12-14 people paid to nothing.
      The retained system has some wastage aswell but it’s all part of offering a emergency service.
      Having both retained and permanent 24/7 is no dought the best service for the safety of our community.

  3. Maybe the retained fire fighters should only get paid when they actually go to an incident on the truck. Currently all 18 get paid a hourly rate and kms but only 4 go on the truck. That leaves between 10-14 people paid to do nothing.
    So both systems have wastage but thats the cost of an emergency service. We are not ment to be profitable. We are there to offer the best fire protection for our community.
    A mix of permanent 25/7 and retained staff is undoubtedly the best option for the community. Don’t put a price tag on people lives.


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