23.2 C
Byron Shire
February 29, 2024

Can NSW afford a fire station for Byron?

Latest News

Fire danger period to end early for Northern Rivers

Tweed, Byron, Ballina, Kyogle, Lismore, Richmond Valley and Clarence Valley are among the local government areas (LGAs) that will see an early end to  the Bush Fire Danger Period.

Other News

Damning 2022 flood housing audit released for Northern NSW

A performance audit of how effectively, or not, the NSW government provided emergency accommodation and temporary housing in response to the 2022 floods has been released by the NSW Audit Office. 

Everyone reads The Echo!

The Echo loves your letters and is proud to provide a community forum on the issues that matter most to our readers and the people of the NSW north coast. So don’t be a passive reader, send us your epistles.

Wallum: lies built on foundation of truth

I am 51 and have been homeless for eight years. I live in a van in a paddock. In...


Council’s excuse for letting the bulldozers into the Wallum site is that it will lose in court and waste...

The Art of Woman highlights the upcoming Lismore Women’s Festival 

Friday evening saw a bountiful display of art at Lismore’s Serpentine Gallery celebrating the feminine and preluding the 2024 Lismore Women’s Festival. 

Lismore skate ramp on the move

Tomorrow the vertical skate ramp from Victoria Street in Lismore will be transported by road to Nimbin, to a private property.

Ballina has a state-of-the-art fire station with training facilities.

Arguments over funding for state emergency services on the far north coast continue, with no sign yet of nearly $6 million promised in June.

Member for Tweed Geoff Provest (Nationals) told media four months ago the state government had allocated $5.85 million for a ‘bigger, better’ fire station at Kingscliff.

‘Firefighters in Kingscliff will be even better equipped to protect the community with a new state-of-the-art facility’ he said at the time.

The new station was to be built on a new site, once a suitable location had been secured and the construction tender process finalised.

But four months later, neither Mr Provest nor Fire and Rescue NSW (FRNSW) has provided any updates on the project and the union says funding cuts mean the money is no longer available.

$13 million cut from state emergency services budget

Fire Brigade Employees Union (FBEU) State Secretary Leighton Drury told Echonetdaily the government had cut $13 million from the Fire and Rescue NSW budget.

‘There was no mention of the cuts in the lead-up to the state election,’ Mr Drury said.

The union and Labor have questioned the budget cuts in relation to a recent training day for firefighters in Ballina that would have left the Tweed Heads fire station without permanent workers for the day.

Northern Rivers zone commander, Superintendent Greg Lewis, told Echonetdaily retained fire-fighters from Tweed Heads, Banora Point, Kingscliff and Ballinga would have protected Tweed Heads residents in the event of a fire.

Retained fire-fighters are essentially casual fire-fighters available on-call.

While it’s understood workers from Lismore went to the training, the FBEU decided workers from Tweed Heads wouldn’t go because residents on the Tweed deserved ‘full resources and capability’, Mr Drury said.

Member for Tweed silent

Fire and Rescue responded, saying Tweed Heads Fire Station was never closed.

The agency sent a statement saying it had a ‘network of both retained and permanent fire-fighters’ able to provide 24/7 coverage across the region.

‘It is not uncommon for FRNSW crews and resources to be deployed outside their fire districts for both training and incidents,’ the statement read, ‘however emergency response is always maintained within these communities’.

‘FRNSW has a state-of-the-art training facility at Ballina which is utilised by crews to maintain operational capability and preparedness.’

But while Mr Provest has remained silent on the matter, instead directing questions to FRNSW, Member for Ballina Tamara Smith (Greens) and Federal Member for Richmond Justine Elliot (Labor) have spoken out about emergency services in their electorates.

‘The decision to rob Tweed Heads Fire Station of its fire-fighting staff is yet another example of the NSW Liberal National government’s neglect of regional and rural areas including our community on the North Coast,’ Ms Elliot wrote via email, ‘this Liberal National government is arrogant and out of touch’.

‘Our community has a right to feel safe this summer,’ she said, ‘Geoff Provest needs to explain why our local firefighting services have been cut’.

Greens member says Byron needs a fire station

Meanwhile, Ms Smith took the opportunity to call for a Byron fire station.

‘The evidence I have seen shows that Byron Shire is most in need of increased Fire and Rescue personnel and infrastructure,’ Ms Smith emailed.

‘With 1 million day visitors a year and 1 million holiday makers a year last year it’s not hard to believe that Byron is where we need the government to resource our Fireys.’

Ms Smith said Byron needed a new station to meet growing demand over the next 50 years.

‘A permanent, full-time Fire and Rescue Service in Byron Bay can also provide much needed education to our community about fire safety,’ she said.

But Ms Smith didn’t seem entirely impressed with Labor’s approach to FR NSW funding.

‘Rather than scare mongering the community, members of the opposition might like to consult with the front line men and women in the profession who are telling me that Byron is where we need the investment,’ she said.

Echonetdaily has asked the NSW minister for emergency services, David Elliott, for confirmation of the $13 million budget cut to FRNSW, whether or not the $5.85 million Kingscliff fire station will still happen and if so, when residents can expect to see the project begin.

Support The Echo

Keeping the community together and the community voice loud and clear is what The Echo is about. More than ever we need your help to keep this voice alive and thriving in the community.

Like all businesses we are struggling to keep food on the table of all our local and hard working journalists, artists, sales, delivery and drudges who keep the news coming out to you both in the newspaper and online. If you can spare a few dollars a week – or maybe more – we would appreciate all the support you are able to give to keep the voice of independent, local journalism alive.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

Israel Palestine

Audacious, humane, sensible, permanent. Achieving such a solution to the present Middle East crisis would require persons of state, that, unlike the current ones...

Byron Dog Rescue: 20 years of lifesaving love and dedication

Celebrating two decades of compassion and dedication to our four-legged friends by Byron Dog Rescue.

Stolen ute, ransacked service station and vandalised police cars

Stolen Brunswick Heads ute allegedly taken on wild adventure ransacking service station and being party to vandalising police cars before being abandoned in the bush at Coraki.

Byron Council reduces fossil fuel investment to 56%

Byron Shire Council investments in projects linked to fossil fuel production decreased significantly after the NSW Treasury Corporation (TCorp) relaxed rules last year.