Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Alf Emerson obituary

Alf Emerson obituary

Boxer took on fires and battled for his workmates
November 11, 2009

It was a telling tribute that both sides of the industrial relations divide turned out to bury the firefighter, boxer and political activist Alf Emerson even though he had retired more than 20 years ago.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Fire protection: new suburbs miss out | Better State

Fire protection: new suburbs miss out | Better State

Fire protection: new suburbs miss out

A growing number of people in NSW are missing out on the fire protection they need.

Only residents in the most populous parts of NSW are protected by career fighters in permanently staffed stations.

Outside of Sydney, Newcastle and Wollongong, communities rely on part-time ‘retained’ firefighters of the NSW Fire Brigade or the firefighting volunteers of the Rural Fire Service. These firefighters do a great job balancing their ‘day’ jobs with responding to fire emergencies.

But we’re worried that permanent fire protection isn’t keeping pace with the growth and spread of population in NSW. There is no formula for establishing permanent stations based on population growth or density.

In fact, industrial developments are given priority fire protection over new housing developments.

This means that many regional centres and new suburbs in outer Western Sydney and the Central and South Coast – full of young families – don’t have the fire protection they need.

Lismore, like many regional centres, has no firefighters at the station overnight.

Many residents of Campbelltown and other outer-metropolitan areas rely on RFS volunteers to respond to fire emergencies in their homes.

The RFS plays an important role in responding to seasonal bushfires, but to have residential areas serviced by volunteer firefighters is not fair on anyone.

For better fire protection for NSW, we need:

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more fire stations
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more permanent career firefighters
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a plan to ensure new residential developments have proper, professional fire protection, based on population.

At the moment, whether a new fire station is built comes largely down to whether local governments and community groups get out and campaign for one.

But communities should not have to rely on the vagaries of politics for fire protection. We all have a right expect appropriate fire protection – along with all essential public services.

Jim Casey
State Secretary,
NSW Fire Brigade Employees Union