Firemen's strike draws fire
BY DAVID MCCOWEN
26 Jun, 2012 06:00 AM
A RAMSGATE man has described a firefighters' stopwork as "disgusting" while firies were hailing their first statewide strike in 56 years as "a massive success".
Kym Loutfy, of Ramsgate, rushed home from his takeaway store in Monterey on Thursday afternoon when his two-storey house caught fire.
Fire broke out in Mr Loutfy's home just as the Fire Brigade Employees Union started a landmark strike to protest against changes to workers' compensation.
Mr Loutfy said his house was well alight by the time the first truck arrived.
"It's a very bad service and a very unprofessional service," he said.
"When the fire brigade came after 45 minutes it took them 15 minutes to get the water going.
"It's not fair; it's disgusting."
Mr Loutfy's wife and three-year-old grandson were inside the house when it caught fire.
They were rescued by Freeman Arbuckle, a passer-by who said Mrs Loutfy was "obviously distraught".
Mr Arbuckle and his father Andrew said police had arrived on the scene before NSW Fire and Rescue crews, who were on strike.
Firefighters extinguished the blaze before handing the site over to the Rural Fire Service and an aviation fire team from Sydney Airport.
NSW Fire and Rescue crews voted earlier in the day to strike over changes to workers' compensation that protected some emergency workers, including police, but excluded firefighters.
A message from FBEU fire crews on Thursday described legislation before the state government as an "intolerable attack" and demanded that "no permanent or retained member is to respond to any incident" from 1pm, and that "there are no exemptions from this action".
NSW FBEU president, Darin Sullivan, said that the strike had been "a massive success".
The union's state secretary, Jim Casey, also told members afterwards that the protest had been worthwhile.
"Make no mistake, the media attention that your action generated fuelled the political pressure that followed," he said.