It appears the NSW Rural Fire Service has a budget problem. Like most other Government departments, the Rural Fire Service is required to reduce employee related costs in an effort to get the state budget back in surplus.
The Emergency Services Minister has told the public that the cuts would not affect frontline positions. Interesting statement on two counts. Firstly, although these positions may not be fire fighting roles, any reduction in back office or management staff can only hinder the work of front line volunteers.
Secondly, It appears that full time Fire Fighters employed by Fire and Rescue NSW are not considered to be front line staff, therefore fire fighting numbers can be reduced. Senior management from Fire and Rescue NSW have confirmed that very few, if any support or management staff will lose there jobs. It can only mean station closures.
What is clear is that the Emergency Services Minister will say what ever is required to convince members of the public that their safety will not be compromised. We are being sold a lemon.
The obvious answer is to merge the two Fire services. They would find that the cost savings would be much greater than is required. There are numerous other benefits to combining the two fire services such as improved communication, only one chain of command, no duplication in training facilities and no “turf” disputes.
Merging the two services is not a new concept. Many Government reports have suggested the potential improvement in service and cost savings by having one fire service for the State.
Why is the Government reluctant to do this?