The Fire Brigade Employees' Union has issued an eleventh hour statement to stop fire station open days going ahead tomorrow (Saturday, May 15) including open days at stations across Maitland and the Coalfields.
In a statement, the union said the safety of its members has been its priority throughout the COVID-19 pandemic.
The statement said that following recent instances of community transmission and the reintroduction of restrictions by the NSW Government, concerns had been raised about open days going ahead.
"Following correspondence between the Union and Fire and Rescue NSW (FRNSW), those concerns remained," the statement said.
All union members in Metro Zones, including Maitland and Cessnock members, have been instructed not to participate in any in-person activities as part of open day and are instead encouraged to take part in online activities.
However FRNSW said that about 100 stations across regional NSW will still participate in Open Day activities. These include Singleton Fire Station and other stations in the Upper Hunter.
An online open day will also be held providing a unique insight into what it is like to be a firefighter. Those taking part can take a tour of stations and find out what it is like to be a firefighter. go to www.facebook.com/frnsw to be part of the action.
News of the bans was condemned by FRNSW.
FRNSW Deputy Commissioner Jeremy Fewtrell said attending open day activities was no different to going to the supermarket or café.
"The FBEU's assertion that we would risk the health and wellbeing of both our firefighters and the community is false," he said.
The annual FRNSW Open Day event offers families and children the opportunity to take a look inside their local FRNSW fire station, meet firefighters and learn about vital home fire safety.
FRNSW Deputy Commissioner Fewtrell said Open Day planning was consistent with NSW Health guidelines and FBEU had exaggerated the risk to firefighters and the community.
"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," Deputy Commissioner Fewtrell said.
"Banning firefighters from engaging with the communities they protect and serve on a daily basis is ludicrous."