NSW Fire and Rescue absent as house burns
When this Ramsgate house was ablaze this afternoon, Fire and Rescue were on strike so the Aviation Rescue and Rural Fire Service were force...
thetelegraph.com.au21 June 2012
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- Man's house burns as firefighters strike
- Airport firefighters, volunteers respond to blaze
- NSW firefighters protest in Sydney CBD
A MAN says he is disgusted that his Sydney house burned while firefighters were striking over changes to the workers compensation scheme.
Kym Loutfy's wife and grandson were rescued from the burning house by a passerby today, while firefighters were turning their hoses on NSW Parliament House during a protest.
Firefighters in Sydney, Newcastle and the Central Coast went on strike for five hours at 1pm (AEST) in protest at reforms to workers compensation they say treat them poorly compared to exempt colleagues in the Rural Fire Service (RFS) and police force.
Firefighters are demanding they also be protected from the WorkCover changes, which cap benefits and medical expenses, with hundreds marching on state parliament in their first major strike in NSW since 1956.
"If the fire brigade weren't on strike they could come more quicker and there would be less cost and less damage," Mr Loutfy said utside his Sans Souci house, which had been extensively damaged in the fire.
"We have nothing to do with the strike ... Anyone can go on strike but there's supposed to be a back-up for emergency.
"I'm very very disgusted."
Radio caller Andrew said he was driving along Campbell St in Sans Souci just after 1pm (AEST) when he noticed flames coming from the front window of the house.
He said firefighters arrived half an hour after he dialled triple 0.
"We went into the house downstairs to check that no one was there. We got a lady and her baby out of there," he said.
NSW Fire and Rescue said in a statement that crews arrived at the scene within seven minutes of receiving a call from police.
It said local crews on their way to the protest responded to the call and carried out search and rescue operations.
However they went on to join the protest after the arrival of the Airports Rescue and Firefighting Service.
Ben Shepherd from the NSW Rural Fire Service said the local RFS sent two trucks and air support as well as firefighters in breathing apparatus.
"With that initial house fire there was probably a longer response time from our trucks," he told Fairfax radio network.
New South Wales firefighters have now returned to work after considering extending their strike.
Fire Brigade Employees Union president Darrin Sullivan said union executives met a short time ago to discuss continuing the strike, but it was decided to go back to work.
Our guys were there, false media reporting.