Casino fire station downgraded in secret

CASINO'S fire station has been secretly downgraded in recent weeks, with no full-time station officer available as part of a deliberate cost-cutting policy initiated by Fire and Rescue NSW.

A leaked memo from FRNSW Assistant Commissioner Rob McNeil has revealed the station officer will no longer be temporarily replaced when on a period of planned leave - effectively leaving the fire station unstaffed for a month.

The memo also suggests the position is under consideration for permanent removal, in order for FRNSW to meet the forced 2.5% reduction in public services expenditure introduced by the O'Farrell Government.

"FRNSW would like to review the requirements of these roles... and potentially redesign them in the near future so as to improve their cost effectiveness," the memo states.

The Fire Brigade Employees Union state secretary Jim Casey said it was the first time "in decades" the role had been left unfilled, and the station was now effectively "closed for business".

Mr Casey said the cut had immediately increased emergency response times because four part-time firefighters were now required to respond instead of three plus the station officer.

Casino's retained (part-time) firefighters are understood to be upset over the cut, which has seen the loss of fire services paid for by Richmond Valley Council and residents.

"It is effectively closed to any public access for advice, fire permits, smoke alarm replacements for the elderly and the many other community engagements the station officer performs," FBEU country sub-branch secretary Tim Anderson said.

A FRNSW spokeswoman said emergency response times would not be compromised and the majority of on-call fire stations did not have permanent station officers.

The State Government's Labour Expense Cap aims to cut public service spending by 2.5% over four years.

"The fact that in the first year they're already looking at cutting this position does not bode well for regional communities in the later years of cuts," Mr Casey said.



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