Mrs KARYN PALUZZANO (Penrith) [9.06 p.m.]: I wish to speak tonight on the NSW Fire Brigades community fire units. On 6 November 2005 I had the pleasure to be with Assistant Commissioner Murray Kear at Glenbrook fire station to commission 10 new community fire units. Back in July 2005 in this House I spoke on the Fire Brigades Amendment (Community Fire Units) Bill when I outlined that there were a number of community fire units both in Glenbrook and Blaxland. I was very proud to be able to hand over the keys for the 10 new units. The community fire units have a specific function. They include undertaking fire prevention work, assisting firefighters during bushfires, assisting with recovery operations after a bushfire and bushfire safety prevention.
The bill that was before the House earlier this year clarified that certain damage caused by a member of community fire units in the line of duty was covered by insurance. As Assistant Commissioner Kear stated, community fire units—or the blue brigade, as they are now called—are reaching their objectives and functions. It should be noted that their trailers have equipment for use by volunteers. They have firefighting hoses, portable pumps, standpipes and fittings, safety helmets, gloves, dust masks, goggles, boots and overalls, tools including rake hoes for making fire trails, first-aid kits and knapsack pumps. The trailers are located in strategic locations on the interface between the urban area and bush vegetation.
The electorate of Penrith has a mobile unit as well as a fixed unit, which is box-like structure on High Road, East Blaxland. I commend the team leader, Graeme Gardiner, for that unit. I gave the keys to these team leaders and their units. They are all volunteers, who live at fairly strategic locations around Glenbrook and Blaxland, which may have bushfires near them in the bushfire season. These team leaders are: Bruce Prince, Honeyeater Crescent, Blaxland; Graeme Gardiner, The High Road, East Blaxland; Ian Short, East Road, Glenbrook; James Auld, Curvers Drive, Mount Riverview; Jeff Konemann, Reading Street, Glenbrook; Lisa Goehner, Wright Street, Glenbrook; Mel Chapman, Brook Road, Glenbrook; and Michael Petrov, Dawn Crescent, Mount Riverview.
Last year we had only one community fire unit in the electorate of Penrith. Now we have 10 and more are to be commissioned. I commend the volunteers for taking the time to train with NSW Fire Brigades. I must also mention Captain Ken Williams and fireman Bob Maxwell. Glenbrook has a retained brigade comprising part-time firefighters. Bob Maxwell has done an outstanding job going into the community making people aware of the community fire units and prompting people to volunteer for them. The volunteers undergo training that allows them to assist after a bushfire event. They will not provide front-line services but they will certainly mop up. As residents of the electorates of Penrith and Mulgoa know, embers often ignite after a bushfire has passed through and a house goes up in flames. The mopping-up operation can be exceedingly dangerous.
A special ceremony was held at Glenbrook fire station and members of the retained brigade organised afternoon tea for us. NSW Fire Brigades fire units have slightly fewer members than the State Emergency Service in New South Wales. The units have been in existence for only about a decade but the number of community fire unit volunteers is growing. Those volunteers do an admirable job and they should be commended for their contribution.