Change room facilities for female firefighters are among improvements that could be carried out through a Labor Party election promise of $5 million to upgrade Fire and Rescue NSW stations in the Heathcote electorate.
Shadow Minister for Emergency Services Jihad Dib made the commitment with Labor candidate for Heathcote Maryanne Stuart at the Engadine Fire and Rescue NSW (FRNSW) station on Wednesday.
Heathcote electorate stretches from Sutherland Shire down to Bulli and includes Royal National Park and a number of small communities surrounded by bushland.
Mr Dib said several of the FRNSW stations were more than 30 years old, and there were reports of cracks, leaks and mould, as well as concerns about asbestos.
Mr Dib said multiple stations had inadequate decontamination facilities despite a new focus from the World Health Organisation on firefighting being a cancer causing profession because of exposure to carcinogens.
Many stations also had inadequate change room facilities or amenities for female firefighters, he said.
A member of the Fire Brigade Employees' Union said most improvements at the Engadine station were done by on-shift crews.
Projects were self-funded and through donations of second hand goods and materials.
"We are lucky to have a good range of qualified tradies who are willing and able to perform the works to a high standard," the union member said.
"This is probably not the ideal situation, but it's how we are keeping things going."
Mr Dib said, "Firefighters have had our back. We need to have theirs by delivering better, safer facilities."
"We can't keep relying on the goodwill of firefighters to put up with less than what they deserve," he said.
Mr Dib said there were 128 stations across NSW that did not have adequate facilities for female firefighters.
"This is unacceptable and we need to go community-by-community and fix this," he said.
Ms Stuart said, "After visiting many stations in our electorate I am determined to see firefighters receive the respect and amenities they deserve to keep them safe and ensure they go home to their loved ones healthy."
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