PROTECT US: Firefighters want 40km/h zones at crash sites
SENIOR Rural Fire Services personnel are lobbying to the State Government to introduce a 40km/h incident zone in an effort to keep volunteers safe at crash sites.
NSW RFS Northern Rivers zone manager, Superindendent Michael Brett, said emergency service workers faced risks when attending motor vehicle crashes, Hazmat or fire incidents and did not need the additional worry caused when passing drivers refused to slow down.
Supt Brett said emergency services workers did an amazing job and shouldn't have to worry about being hit by a passing vehicle.
"We support the NSW Rural Fire Service Association's campaigning for the introduction of a 40km/h zone to be in place when drivers pass an emergency incident," he said.
"There's been lots of near misses and any of the Northern Rivers 1200 firefighters and potentially any emergency services workers, police, SES, ambulance, Fire and Rescue, could be on the road at a car accident, chemical spill or car fire."
Supt Brett said said reduced speed limit zones around emergency incidents were already in place across a number of Australian states.
"People are not slowing down and we implore the government to do as Victoria and South Australia have and bring in 40km/h speed for driving through an emergency incident," he said.
"Every day we see the motorists who are not slowing down, so anything we can that makes it safer on the roads for emergency services workers, let's not wait for a fatality before we do something."
RFSA president Ken Middleton said the organisation was urgently seeking a meeting with Roads Minister Melinda Pavey as it may only be a matter of time until a fatality occurred.
"Our volunteers give their time to protect people and property across the state," Mr Middleton said.
"What we are hearing from our members is extremely worrying and we need to sit down with Minister Pavey and work through our proposal to improve safety for them."
Mr Middleton said the RFSA has been requesting a meeting opportunity with the Minister for Roads, but to date a meeting has not yet been confirmed.
"Our campaign has united opposite sides of politics, with both Christian Democratic Party MLC Paul Green and Greens MLC David Shoebridge giving in-principle support for the law.
"I'm urging the government to recognise how serious this issue is and act to ensure the safety of the state's emergency services personnel (and) have already written to the state's 128 local councils to inform them of the great risk being faced by volunteers in their areas and the need for urgent action."