ROAD TRAIL: A Coffs Harbour RFS strike team heads south on the Pacific Motorway to assist with a large grass fire at Clybucca.
ROAD TRAIL: A Coffs Harbour RFS strike team heads south on the Pacific Motorway to assist with a large grass fire at Clybucca. Trevor Veale

Safety of Rural Fire Service crews a hot political issue

IT'S hard to believe but the NSW Rural Fire Service Association (RFSA) is moving towards a conflict situation with Roads and Maritime Services (RMS) over work safety.

Premier Gladys Berejiklian has been asked to intervene after key RMS departmental officials withdrew on the weekend from important discussions with the RFSA on road safety for emergency workers.

The RFSA has been campaigning for the introduction of a new law requiring drivers to slow down to 40 kilometres an hour when passing an emergency services vehicle with flashing lights, similar to legislation introduced in other states.

RFSA president Ken Middleton stressed the urgency of settling the matter.

"This is an extremely important issue to our members who risk their lives, along with all emergency service workers, when they work along our roads," he said.

"The RMS through the Minister for Roads and Maritime had agreed to meet with our state council on Saturday.

"However, we were informed late last week they were withdrawing from the discussion which is deeply concerning and shows disrespect towards the concerns of emergency workers.

"We have now written to Premier Berejiklian to express our disappointment and have requested an urgent meeting to discuss our concerns for safety."

The weekend incident where where two police officers were struck by a car and suffered horrific injuries while setting up for a roadside RBT has set alarm bells ringing.

"It has been recognised action needs to be taken to improve safety on NSW roads and clearly action also needs to be taken to protect emergency services workers and now is the time to act.

"Laws are already in place in NSW to protect other vulnerable road users with a 40 kilometre per hour limit for drivers when travelling through school zones and road work sites."



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