The Fire Brigade Employees Union has called for a swift upgrade of trucks in NSW after a crew was unable to escape a vandal attack because their vehicle had broken down.
- A union says “bandaid” fixes to fire trucks are endangering safety
- A Dubbo Fire and Rescue crew was stranded after extinguishing a fire
- They could not flee the scene when a group began throwing rocks at them
The western New South Wales Fire and Rescue crew were called to extinguish a bin fire in Dubbo last week and returned to notice smoke billowing from their truck’s engine.
While the crew waited for mechanics to arrive, they were attacked by a group that began throwing rocks at them, forcing them to hide in the truck’s cabin.
Fire Brigade Employees Union country representative Tim Anderson said he had raised concerns about the incident.
“Firefighters have no role in law enforcement at all, we’re purely there to assist the community when an incident is occurring,” Mr Anderson said.
“We should be able to do our job safely without being subjected to violence.”
Police said they were investigating the incident.
Calls for new vehicles
The incident has drawn attention to what the union said was the deteriorating state of an ageing fleet.
“We’ve been telling fire brigade management for a long time that bad things are going to happen if our fire engines aren’t reliable,” Mr Anderson said.
“The health and welfare of firefighters is paramount, and not only were the firefighters in Dubbo subjected to that violence, they were unable to remove themselves because the fire engine had broken down.”
Fire and Rescue NSW acknowledged a mechanical issue had occurred with the fire truck in Dubbo and that a part required replacement.
However, it defended the overall condition of its fleet, stating the truck in question was within its target age and received regular checks and maintenance from FRNSW fleet mechanics.
“This minor repair work has been completed locally and the vehicle has returned to service,” a spokesperson for the agency said.
“FRNSW has a strategic program of fleet renewal and maintenance to ensure our service continually meets public expectation.”
However, Mr Anderson said in some cases brigades were using trucks between 15 and 20 years old.
“People expect their emergency services to be fit for purpose and be able to function when required,” he said.
“There are so many things that are outside of our control when we attend an incident, but the one thing that is within our control is to make sure we have reliable fire engines that are fit for purpose and that work when we need them to work.”
https://www.abc.net.au/news/2023-09-29/union-call-for-fire-and-rescue-to-upgrade-fire-trucks/102905582 Fire Brigade Employees Union call for upgrades to truck fleet after Dubbo crew stranded