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Byron Shire
March 1, 2021

Ballina fire station unaffordable

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Regarding the Labor party bandwagon rolling out an extra 20 permanent firefighting positions at the Ballina fire station, this comes at an unaffordable cost to the Ballina ratepayers.

This initiative is a poorly disguised response of local labor luminaries (Asren Pugh et al) to pander to the demands of the Fire Brigade Employees Union.

At present the ratepayers pay 11.7 per cent of the running cost for the service which equates to $35,000 a year. The cost of the 20 x 24hr permanent fire fighters would be $3.5m; that’s an additional $360,000pa to be covered by Ballina Council who will pass this on to rate payers.

The facts: In 2007/8, 421 incidents occurred. For the similar period in 2016/17, incidents diminished to 276 – a reduction of over 30 per cent. This equates to less than one call out per day.

Ballina fire-fighting response times are 20 per cent below the guaranteed out-the-door response times of ten minutes.

Since the opening of the Ballina bypass there has been a dramatic reduction in serious highway incidents.

With the further development of the Ballina airport, specific firefighting resources and premises have been established there so that aviation incidents are no longer the remit of the Ballina Fire Station. Thirty per cent of the reduced annual call outs are false, and a further 60 per cent are for minor motor vehicle accidents and small vegetation fires.


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1 COMMENT

  1. Interesting comments. I agree that the unions push to increase number is a political move and not one of necessity. What has been failed to mention is that the local council areas have the Rural Fire Service which is a cost effective fire service that backs up NSW Fire Rescue. The unions what to bypass the RFS. On many local incidents they will call in other Fire Rescue brigades and not request assistance from a local RFS Brigade that is only minutes away. On top of this they are now responding their brigades to incidents in the rural community and leaving the town’s unprotected. A recent grass fire in Wardel saw the local RFS Brigade responded and Ballina Fire Rescue with one of their members failing to see why they were sent down to Wardel. As NSW Fire Rescue handle all 000 calls we are seeing a delay of over 10 min for the RFS to be respond to incidents in the rural area and when we turn up Fire Rescue have completed the job and the RFS are stood down. This practice is depleting the moral of local Brigades, which might be Fire Rescues Unions plan. With the RFS out of the way they can expand their organisation which as you have pointed out will increase cost for rate payers.

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