Cessnock Council sets fire alarms ringing
- CONCERNS: Cr. James Ryan discusses staffing matters with Cessnock Fire Station union delegate James Barry.
Cessnock Greens councillor James Ryan has welcomed Cessnock City Council’s unanimous support of his motion to request the NSW Fire Commissioner Greg Mullins to address the Cessnock Council meeting on September 5.
“We want the commissioner to explain why our fire stations are being effectively closed.” He said it was alarming to hear a presentation from a firefighter at last week’s council meeting that four out of Cessnock’s eight fires stations would be closed last Thursday.
“Further if Cessnock Brigade is called out of the area, for example to a major accident along the New England Highway at Singleton, the whole of the Cessnock LGA will be left with little or no coverage by a fire brigade.
“Residents of Cessnock should take extra precautions with fire safety because it is clear that NSW’s primary emergency response service is now more unavailable in Cessnock than it is available. Fire Brigade Employees Union secretary, Jim Casey will be invited to address council on the same night.
“The closing of stations in the Cessnock local government area is a direct result of the NSW Government seeking to slash $28million from the NSW Fire Brigade budget. But what makes this action hard to understand is that the Fire Brigade is primarily funded by a levy in house insurance policies (74%) with only 14% of funding contributed by the NSW Government. Eleven percent of funding is paid by local councils.
“Therefore the government’s passion to slash the fire brigade budget will have little impact on the budget of NSW. It’s main effect will be to reduce public safety in communities like Cessnock throughout NSW.” Barry O’Farrell should reinstate funding for the NSW Fire Brigades, he said.
“I urge Mr. Mullins to make himself available on September 5. The people of Cessnock and NSW have a right to know by just how much our emergency services are being cut.”
Cessnock Fire Station union rep, Jeremey Smith, addressed the council, pointing out the problems. He said that with stations closed response time to fires would be longer and property and people put at risk.