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AWU Firefighters Win Safety Battle with NSW Government

August 21, 2020

Firefighters across NSW National Parks will have access to life saving defibrillators after a two year battle by the Australian Workers’ Union.

The NSW Government has finally bowed to demands from the AWU and will now ensure every NPSW fire truck will carry this important and essential safety device.

Daniel Walton, National and NSW Secretary of the AWU, said: “Firefighters have to endure the most extreme circumstances imaginable and should have access to the very best protective equipment possible.

These heroes risk their lives to protect all of us – it’s utterlyunacceptable that they have been missing this vital piece of kit whilst placing themselves in serious danger.

“This is an important first step by the NSW Government but it needs to do far more.”

The urgent need for the defibrillators was demonstrated last year when an NPWS ranger who suffered a heart attack was only saved because a South Australian firefighting crew had its own defibrillator it could share.

Mr Walton added: “There are too many near misses because of cutbacks. Our fire seasons are getting longer and more severe. We need the NSW Government to step up and ensure our firefighters are properly equipped, properly funded and fully staffed.”

The AWU says NSW Government’s recent hiring of an extra 122 NPWS firefighting positions demonstrates its only interested in a band aid fix – as the positions are being funded for just one year.

Mr Walton said: “We need these positions to be made permanent. There are full time vacancies across the service which need filling as a matter of urgency.

Right now, 122 people are being trained to help protect our national parks, but unless the NSW steps up they will be gone within a year and we will be back to square one.

“Our NPWS officers and firefighters have suffered from cutbacks year after year. We owe to them and to our parks and wildlife to provide them with the resources so they can do their job properly.”

The 122 firefighters are being trained by existing NPWS officers in firefighting and fire management techniques and will be on the ground from November. Their contract will end in September 2021.

The AWU has outlined a series of recommendations to the NSW Bush Fire Inquiry including calling for paramedics to be trained in winching. You can read more here.

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