The NSW opposition has promised to recruit 20 full-time fire fighters to NSW Fire & Rescue Ballina and make Ballina Fire Station operational around the clock for the first time.
Last year, Echonetdaily revealed the concerns of a Ballina firey that the station’s on-call status, utilising so-called ‘retained’ firefighters, was slowing down callouts to jobs, with potentially fatal implications.
In a joint announcement yesterday, Labor leader Michael Daley, shadow emergency services minister Guy Zangari and Ballina candidate Asren Pugh, said they would fix the problem if Labor was elected.
Mr Daley said under the NSW Liberals and Nationals, firefighter numbers have fallen over the past eight years.
He promised to add another 200 firefighting pos itions across the state, taking numbers to around 7,000.
Mr Pugh said that the Liberal and National Parties’ neglect of firefighting services in the Ballina electorate had led to fewer stations and personnel to fill gaps in rosters. He added that this had a flow on effect on firefighter safety.
‘The Ballina Shire has no permanent firefighters, while Lismore, with the same population, is protected by 24/7 fire service,’ he said.
Navigating holiday traffic
‘We need more resources to support our existing firefighters, especially over the busy holiday period when firefighters must navigate busy roads to get to the station, before heading out to fires.
‘The Berejiklian Government has short-changed the Byron and Ballina shires, while the Nationals are spending $2 billion to knock down and rebuild sports stadiums in Sydney.
Hotter, drier weather
‘The North Coast has suffered through record temperatures over summer after a dry winter. With climate change getting worse, the demand on our local firies is just going to increase,’ he said.
Mr Daley added that, ‘Each year it gets hotter and drier making conditions more fire-prone particularly in rural and regional NSW yet unbelievably the Liberals and Nationals are cutting firefighting staff.
‘My priorities are making sure that our hard-working firefighters have the resources they need to do their important work, and that the people and property of our state is properly protected,’ he said.