Fire and Rescue NSW condemns union's cancellation of Macarthur open day events

Macarthur residents hoping to visit their local Fire and Rescue NSW (FRNSW) station tomorrow will have to change their plans.

Open day events planned in Warragamba, Picton, Camden, Rosemeadow, St Andrews and Ingleburn have been cancelled by the Fire Brigades Employees Union (FBEU) due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

However Fire and Rescue NSW has 'strongly condemned' the actions of the union to stop the popular open day events.

FBEU state secretary Shane Kennedy issued a ban on Sydney metropolitan firefighters participating in Open Day activities, stating COVID-19 was a risk to firefighter safety.

"The safety of members has been our priority throughout the COVID-19 pandemic," a statement from Mr Kennedy said.

"Following recent instances of community transmission and the reintroduction of restrictions by the NSW Government, we had concerns about open day going ahead as planned on May 15, 2021.

"Following correspondence between the union and FRNSW, those concerns remained.

"Therefore, all members in metro zones (which includes Macarthur and Wollondilly) are hereby instructed not to participate in any in-person activities as part of open day and are instead encouraged to take part in online activities.

"This is in the interests of the safety of both members and the public."

The annual FRNSW open day events offer families and children the opportunity to take a look inside their local fire station, meet firefighters and learn about fire safety.

FRNSW Deputy Commissioner Jeremy Fewtrell said attending open day activities was no different to going to the supermarket or a cafe.

He said open day planning was consistent with NSW Health guidelines and FBEU had exaggerated the risk to firefighters and the community.

"The FBEU's assertion that we would risk the health and wellbeing of both our firefighters and the community is false," Deputy Commissioner Jeremy Fewtrell said.

"It defies belief that the FBEU would seek to close the doors of our local fire stations and stop a much-loved community event from taking place.

"Banning firefighters from engaging with the communities they protect and serve on a daily basis is ludicrous.

"The ban is inconsistent with other community events that are able to continue under NSW Health guidelines."

More than 100 stations across regional NSW will still participate in Open Day activities - the closest to Macarthur being Nowra, Oberon and Wentworth Falls.

For more information on the cancelled FRNSW Open Day events, visit: www.fire.nsw.gov.au/openday.

This story Fire and Rescue NSW condemns union's cancellation of Macarthur open day events first appeared on Wollondilly Advertiser.