Ballina welcomes full-time firies
BALLINA Fire Station will now be staffed by full-time daytime firefighters for the first time following a six-month battle by their union.
Station Captain Dennis Henry welcomed the move saying it was necessary given the region’s growth.
“We can’t keep relying on retained firefighters in this day and age,” he said.
“It will take the load off retained firefighters as it is getting more and more difficult for people to get away from work.
“We will still drop back to retained firefighters at night and weekends, but eventually we’ll have to go 24 hours like Tweed Heads.
“More and more people are moving into Ballina, and with the high-rise and urban sprawl there are more risks and identified needs.”
Fire Brigade Employees’ Union secretary Jim Casey said firefighters around NSW had been campaigning for increased resources in regional growth centres since the closure of a Newcastle station six months ago which initiated the action.
“Ballina is one of fiveregional areas that willreceive permanent firefighters for the first time in October, thanks to a committed industrial campaign by firies to ensure regional growth areas were not left behind,” he said.
“Currently, Ballina, like most regional areas, relies on a dedicated and hard-working band of part-time retained firefighters, who do an amazing job of balancing day jobs with call-outs day and night to protect the lives of local people.
“Six months ago firies took industrial action following the closure of a station in Newcastle, taking a stand and telling the Government that rather than cut essential services there was a very real need to improve and upgrade them.
“While there have been pushes within the NSW Fire Brigades and the State Government to cut costs, the FBEU believes that community safety must come first, which is why we continue to demand increased resources in key growth areas like Ballina to ensure the public receive the protection they expect and deserve.”
Additional permanent firefighters will be also based in Batemans Bay, Nelson Bay, Maitland and Cessnock.