November 11th – Under Fire

Neutral Bay Fire Station

When you think about Yeo Street, in the back blocks of Neutral Bay’s commercial precinct, it’s no place for a fire engine.

And it seems to the state government agrees. In a move to curb funding stresses, the State Government implemented a system in 2012 that puts as many as 87 Fire Stations into Temporarily Offline (TOL) mode on an unscheduled basis.

It basically means if the lights aren’t on, don’t bother calling. A “resource sharing” scheme that makes as much sense as the now defunct Australian cricket team “Rotation Policy”.

The most affected of all Fire Station’s in terms of “shifts unmanned” is the one pictured, Neutral Bay. With nearly 70 occasions where the station was unmanned for 14 hours or more, in some cases because resources were relocated to other stations (including neighbouring Mosman), to prevent them going into TOL status.

The effect of this programme was felt on October 15th, when wild thunderstorms belted large parts of the Sydney metro area and surrounds. A Fire Brigade Union press release outlines the stresses this cost-saving programme puts on communities. With a number of fire stations closed during the event, and Neutral Bay (among others) having their resources sent elsewhere, entire communities were left exposed.

Of course I had absolutely no idea about any of this when I pulled up to go to the dentist this afternoon and decided to photograph the 1909 structure.

The movement has its own Facebook page – No Firefighter Inside.


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