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Government urged to fix ‘unacceptable’ situation at Singleton Fire Station

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“Unacceptable” and “frankly untenable” are the words Rod Roberts MLC used to describe the current change room status at Singleton Fire Station.

During his recent Hansard speech in the NSW Legislative Council, the Pauline Hanson’s One Nation Party member called on the government to address the worrying issue.

Presently, the male and female firefighters based at Singleton must share the same toilet and shower facilities, while many kit themselves up in full view of the public.

Mr Roberts believes the lack of governance exposes both the government and Fire and Rescue NSW (FRNSW) to the real possibility of legal action.

“The Singleton Fire Station was built in 1915 and very little has been done with it over time,” he said.

“I know that personally because I’ve visited and inspected the facility – a single storey brick building with a big, open front door and a fire truck parked right in the middle.

“Down the right‑hand side are pegs hanging on the wall, which house the protective gear that the firefighters wear when they attend emergency situations.

“But, before they put the safety clothing on, they must change out of the everyday uniform that they wear when not actually engaged in active duty.

“Both males and females stripping down to their underwear to get changed, all the time in the line of sight of anyone walking down Pitt Street.

“The idea of men and women in their underwear together in the workplace is a whole matter of its own.

“However, it gets worse.

“The Singleton Fire Station is situated across the road from a dance studio predominately frequented by young girls.

“Another one is located nearby.

“So, we have firefighters stripping down to their underwear in full view of the public, in extremely close proximity to not only two dance schools, but next to car park.

“The crew members I’ve met at Singleton are extremely decent and dedicated officers.

“But, they are fearful that some resident will take offence to them in their underwear.

“That leaves both them and their employer open to criminal or civil prosecution for some form of obscene exposure.”

Mr Roberts said there was “no way” men and women should be forced to strip down to their underwear in front of each other in this “day and age”.

“For god’s sake, we’re in 2022,” he stated.

“The fact that it’s work-related is irrelevant.

“After meeting some of the staff at the station, I know the male officers wouldn’t do anything to offend their female colleagues.

“Plus, the women there are dedicated professionals who want to just get on with the job.

“However, there is no way their employer, FRNSW, should put them in a position where inappropriate behaviour could be alleged.”

Mr Roberts admitted it was equally disappointing to hear all firefighters at Singleton had to share the same toilet and shower facilities.

“There are no separate amenities,” he said.

“And, of course, the shower is located in the same room as the toilet, so imagine the lack of practicality in that.

“Again, the men and women have no choice.

“This is 2022. Imagine the uproar in this building if males and females were forced to change in front of each other and to share bathroom facilities.

“What is good for us should be good enough for the brave men and women of the Singleton Fire Station.

“They are not asking for a new premises, although that would be good.

“Instead, they are just requesting a demountable building that could be located in the rear of the station that would provide them with both male and female toilets and showers and an area to get changed in that takes them away from the glare of passing civilians in the street.

“That is not too much to ask.

“Should we not protect those that protect us?

“I call upon the emergency services minister to rectify this immediately.”

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