Fire and Rescue NSW is planning to employ retained staff rather than full time staff at Perisher Fire Station outside of the winter period. This will extend response times to our lodges at Charlotte Pass and Perisher from October to May each year.
Retained staffing is used at most country towns and other resort areas within Australia and provides an excellent level of fire protection. To date 5 Perisher locals have volunteered to be trained as retained firefighters which is a great step forward.
Retained firefighters are those that are paid a monthly allowance for their service; have pagers to respond when called; are paid for each call they attend; are trained to the same level as full time firefighters; are generally in the area of Perisher.
SLOPES, the body that represents our interests with government agencies and resorts, has recommended immediate action in an attempt to influence the FARNSW decision.
Summary of stakeholder meeting at Jindabyne on 12/3/12
Still on track to change from permanent staff to retained staff from 23 March 2012.
Fire & Rescue currently have attained 2 personnel living at Perisher, 1 at C.Pass and 4 who work Monday to Friday at Perisher. These people have completed their first phase of training and are due to complete the second phase by 18 March this year.
Initially, during daytime periods the captain or deputy from Jindabyne will be in attendance at Perisher FS as a guide for the new retained personnel.
During the ski season, Christmas/ New Year, Easter and any other major event Fire & Rescue will provide full time staff. There will also be a 2 week period either side of the ski season were permanent staff will be in attendance.
Fire & Rescue provided stats indicating that for the period 2005 to 2009 there were 2 building fires other than food stuffs burning that was confined to point of origin. Over the 5 years there were 1101 responses and only 9 of those actual fires.
To respond permanent staff of officer and 4 firefighters costs per hour $1300; the cost for retained for the same period is $300.
Local retained personnel, along with Jindabyne personnel, will be checking on fire hazards around the external areas of lodges monthly.
The fire service levy in your insurance rates is not only to finance Fire & Rescue, but also the Rural Fire Service and SES. This funding is for these services state wide and not just Perisher.
Fire & Rescue indicated that they also had been in touch with other insurance agencies/brokers and they believed that premiums should not be increase significantly. SLOPES will follow this up.
SLOPES representative, Frank Zipfinger, reaffirmed that they are against the proposal of retained firefighters at Perisher. (Odd when the majority of NSW is covered by retained firefighters including Thredbo. That said, there may be times when no local firefighters are available at Perisher/C. Pass due to whatever reason and then the response is from Jindabyne. Fire & Rescue could overcome this by sending retained FF from Jindabyne to stand by at Perisher when the locals are away)
Fire & Rescue also stated that most hotels in the City now place the responsibility on the occupier of the room for any activation of a smoke detector that may cause a false alarm. If the hotel get charged for the call out of Fire & Rescue then they pay. It was proposed that the same apply in the ski resort hotels & lodges.