Fire stations must reopen

Not happy: State opposition leader John Robertson and former Hurstsville mayor Steve McMahon outside Riverwood Fire Station, which was closed on Monday night. Picture: Jane Dyson
Not happy: State opposition leader John Robertson and former Hurstsville mayor Steve McMahon outside Riverwood Fire Station, which was closed on Monday night. Picture: Jane Dyson

THE Fire Brigade Employees Union and Fire and Rescue NSW will be forced to find a new solution to reduce a blow-out in overtime costs after a decision to take some fire stations off-line was revoked.

Fire and Rescue NSW Commissioner Greg Mullins accepted a recommendation from the Industrial Relations Commission on Tuesday to suspend shutting fire stations temporarily.

"I now call on the Fire Brigade Employees Union to accept the rest of the recommendations — to lift its expensive industrial bans and to come up with alternative savings proposals, acceptable to its members, for rapid implementation," Commissioner Mullins said.

The U-turn came just one day after the closures were introduced.

The move was to save money after $7 million of the $10 million overtime budget was spent in the first four months of the financial year.

Miranda and Riverwood fire stations were forced to shut on Monday night after minimum safe crewing levels were not met due to firefighters taking sick or other unplanned leave.

NSW Opposition Leader John Robertson said the government had put cost cutting before the safety of families.

"The O'Farrell government's decision to close fire stations at Riverwood and Miranda to cut costs on Monday night put community safety at risk," he said.

"If there had been a serious fire in the local area when those stations were closed, lives and property could have been put at risk."

Former Hurstville mayor Steve McMahon said closing fire stations in the lead up to summer was madness.

The Fire Brigade Employees Union and Fire and Rescue NSW will reappear before the Industrial Relations Commission on December 4.

Do you think closing fire stations is the right solution to reducing overtime costs?

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