Blayney firefighters fight for station upgrades | Photos, pictures

FIRE FIGHT: Blayney fire station is a safety hazard and no longer fit for purpose, Fire Brigade Employees union country representative Tim Anderson says. Photo: MARK LOGAN
FIRE FIGHT: Blayney fire station is a safety hazard and no longer fit for purpose, Fire Brigade Employees union country representative Tim Anderson says. Photo: MARK LOGAN

BLAYNEY fire station might have been filled with the latest technology when it was built 92 years ago, but these days firefighters say it's a safety hazard and unfit for purpose.

Diesel fumes in the engine bay, dirty uniforms stored in the kitchen, no separate female amenities and no inside wash down bay for contaminated equipment are among their issues with the historic station.

Fire Brigade Employees Union country representative Tim Anderson said Blayney firefighters are so concerned by the issues that many of them have decided to reduce their availability for call outs which forces their employer to bring in out-of-town replacements at a significant cost.

Fire and Rescue NSW (FRNSW) Superintendent Brett Jackson said the building may "no longer meet the station's needs in its current form", but firefighters have refused to accept "solutions" put to them.

Mr Anderson said equipment that is potentially "contaminated with asbestos and carcinogens" had to be cleaned at an outside sink in all weather conditions.

"In the middle of winter they're standing out there cleaning," he said.

Mr Anderson said the station's lack of separate female amenities mean the brigade's one female firefighter is forced to "get changed in front of the blokes" or in the kitchen for privacy.

"The lack of female facilities is the straw that broke the camel's back," he said of firefighters' decision to reduce their availability for call outs.

Supt Jackson said Blayney Fire Station was high on the zone's list for stations needing improvements, however, firefighters have rejected interim measures to fix some issues.

These include the addition of a demountable ablution block with male and female change rooms and toilets.

Supt Jackson rejected the union's claim that there was no area for the female firefighter to get changed and said she had "a smaller room to herself", but Mr Anderson said this room is in fact a storage cupboard (pictured).

He said firefighters were able to use change rooms and toilets at the NSW Rural Fire Service station next door if they choose to.

FIRE FIGHT: A bar heater and side panels have been added to the station's outdoors equipment wash bay. Photo: MARK LOGAN

FIRE FIGHT: A bar heater and side panels have been added to the station's outdoors equipment wash bay. Photo: MARK LOGAN

Supt Jackson said a bar heater and side panels had been installed at the outside wash bay to "alleviate" this issue in the short term, while an extraction fan would be installed in the station's engine bay "shortly".

He said FRNSW's policy is for boots and helmets to be washed down and personal protective clothing is bagged prior to getting back into the truck to reduce contaminants being transported back to the station.

"Any contaminated uniforms are required to be sent immediately for cleaning," he said.

Supt Jackson confirmed firefighters have reduced their availability due to ongoing issues with the station and that has forced the government body to source staff from nearby stations at a significant cost.

Despite claims from the union that station upgrades were promised, Supt Jackson said this is not true.

"A business case was put forward but not approved, as well as the solutions listed in the response above but there has been no agreed agreement from the staff and they therefore are refusing to increase their availability to their community," he said.

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