More firefighters will be hired at the Bowral station after crew members took informal action to highlight staffing issues.
Bowral, a retained station, is manned by on-call firefighters who travel to the station from their homes or other employment when their pagers sound. However, from April 13-19, Bowral firies either took leave or reduced their on-call hours to the minimum required by their industrial agreement.
As a result, Fire and Rescue NSW (FRNSW) deployed permanent crews from across Sydney to ensure the Highlands community remained protected.
Following the Bowral action, FRNSW has asked Highlands community members to express their interest in a career as a retained (on-call) firefighter.
FRNSW area commander Chief Superintendent Greg Buckley confirmed the station could hire up to 18 retained firefighters, though it currently had a team of 12. Two employees who were successful in a previous recruitment drive will soon join the station, but a further four positions are available.
“We have no problem recruiting up to the 18 positions, provided candidates meet necessary criteria,” he said. “Candidates can talk with the station or the zone office, but applications are collected online.”
Calls for a permanent station
Chief Superintendent Buckley said the Highlands was not identified for permanently-staffed stations as the region had been well serviced by Mittagong, Bowral and Moss Vale retained stations.
He said FRNSW carried out annual reviews of the service risks in different areas across NSW, and prioritised stations in need of status upgrades on a merit basis. “In the end it comes down to budget allocations aligned with risk profiles across the state,” he said.
“Bowral has maintained a high level of response, which led to the element of fatigue and burn out they raised. We moved permanent stations up to cover them while they took a break over Easter to address it in the short term,” he said.
“Long term – in time, you might expect, depending on the growth of the area, there could be some kind of permanent staff, depending on the risk profile which is something we constantly review and actively look at.”
- To find out more about being a retained firefighter, visit: www.fire.nsw.gov.au/page.php?id=11