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Cops using Bentley fire shed 'threatens RFS impartiality'

TAKING A STAND: Larnook Deputy Captain Glen Jones, third from the right, protests against police using the Bentley shed for anti-gas blockade operations.
TAKING A STAND: Larnook Deputy Captain Glen Jones, third from the right, protests against police using the Bentley shed for anti-gas blockade operations. David Lowe

THE impartial reputation of the Rural Fire Service could be under threat if plans by police to use the Bentley brigade's shed go ahead, according to Larnook brigade deputy captain Glen Jones.

Larnook and Bentley RFS volunteers - neighbouring brigades who fight fires together in the Mackellar Range - staged a public protest on Tuesday night against plans to station police there during operations relating to the Bentley anti-gas blockade.

Two RFS volunteers from a Clarence Valley brigade have already resigned in the wake of the decision.

Mr Jones said grass roots volunteers opposed the move because the RFS relied on the goodwill of the local community, and the decision had prompted some people to declare they would no longer make RFS donations.

He said Larnook brigade was made up of volunteers from all political stripes from the Nationals to the Greens, who got along well because "we've insisted on politics staying out of the RFS".

"Any use of the shed politicises the RFS in the public perception, because it (gas) is a politically charged conflict," Mr Jones said.

RFS Northern Rivers zone manager, Superintendent Michael Brett disagreed, saying co-operating with police operations was "normal emergency service business" and it was opponents of the move who were politicising the issue.

Supt Brett said the shed would be used by police for power and the toilets for female officers, and the surrounding car park as a site for their portable command vehicle.

Topics:  bentley coal seam gas csg metgasco rural fire service



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