Blue Mountains fights Fire & Rescue NSW plan to move water tankers out of area

Blue Mountains councillors have unanimously opposed a proposal by the Fire and Rescue NSW to relocate Blue Mountains Fire and Rescue tankers outside the area.

At Tuesday night's monthly council meeting, the councillors elected in an urgent Mayoral Minute, to write to the NSW Minister for Emergency Services David Elliot asking that this plan is reversed, and also voice their concerns to the NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian, the Resilience NSW Commissioner Shane Fitzsimmons and local MP Trish Doyle. Ms Doyle first raised alarm bells about the issue last week.

It follows news of a plan by Fire and Rescue NSW to move two water tankers from Katoomba and Springwood fire stations - reallocating them to Wallerawang and Windsor.

Deputy Mayor Chris Van der Kley, who quit as a Liberal at the meeting to become an Independent, seconded the motion. He said in his capacity as chairman of the bushfire management committee "we need every resource that we can get".

"All of those vehicles we used very heavily last Christmas. It's a crying shame the state government wants to take these two vehicles, we need them to stay here."

Mayor Mark Greenhill said recently "the insurance industry group [IAG] rated the Blue Mountains as the most bushfire prone area of NSW and possibly Australia". "It is insane to consider," he added.

Greens Cr Brent Hoare, a volunteer firefighter, said it was a "crazy proposal". "I'm frankly furious at the hypocrisy. The Premier is giving us citations and not providing the resources to do our job. It beggars belief."

Liberal councillor Kevin Schreiber added with a proposed high fire risk in the coming days, "we are going to need all appliances on the ground".

At a community protest about the issue last Saturday Ms Doyle said she was disgusted by the move which was "robbing Peter to pay Paul. I say to the government: If Windsor and Wallerawang need a water tanker, give it to them. Don't take it from our blokes."

The two tankers store more water than other fire appliances, meaning they can play a crucial role in incidents where there aren't nearby water hydrants.

A Fire and Rescue NSW (FRNSW) spokesperson said Fire and Rescue NSW utilises "a network of resources to address risk and periodically reviews these resource allocations to ensure best use of resources" adding stakeholders would be consulted before any final decision is made.

Council will include in its correspondence the request to instead increase resources and staffing in the Mountains which is one of the most bushfire prone regions in the world.