Around 30 fire stations across NSW could be temporarily shut down following the Industrial Relations Commission ruling in favour of a Fire and Rescue NSW order.
"The decision by the Industrial Relations Commission to allow Fire and Rescue NSW to deprive 30 communities across our state of their fire trucks is a disaster waiting to happen," said Fire Brigade Employees Union NSW Secretary Leighton Drury.
THE FBEU says the decision was handed down on 18 March paving the way for the state to shut stations down when there aren't enough people to staff them.
It says Fire and Rescue NSW has been trying to implement the order since 2019, before the devastating bushfires in 2020.
The union said it was unwise of the government to implement "brutal" budget cuts against a backdrop of increasing natural disasters, such as the recent floods in the Northern Rivers and Hawkesbury regions.
Mr Drury said under the new order Goonellabah Fire Station in Lismore and two in Grafton could have been shut down. He also noted fire stations at Richmond, Windsor and Riverstone which received hundreds of emergency calls may also face a similar fate.
"Ensuring that every fire station has sufficient staffing is extremely important to allow our emergency services to respond quickly, and as fully as possible, to any emergency and natural disaster," he said.
"This flooding event is the perfect example of that."
There has been widespread criticism of the handling of the crisis after people were left stranded on roofs in Lismore in the state's northeast, which was inundated with a record 14.37m flood on February 28.
Many people ended up being rescued by fellow residents on private watercraft, nine people died, thousands lost their homes and many were uninsured because of the high cost of premiums.
Australian Associated Press
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