Mayor John Bowler says the decision to employ a Northam-based superintendent to lead the Goldfields-Midland fire services is an “absolute disgrace”.
Department of Fire and Emergency Services acting deputy commissioner operations Gary Gifford said the operational capability and service delivery would remain the same for Kalgoorlie-Boulder, despite the role being based in Northam.
“The residential address of the superintendent has no impact on fire and emergency services resources in the Kalgoorlie region,” he said.
Antony Sadler was appointed to the role this month, replacing Kalgoorlie-Boulder’s Trevor Tasker who resigned mid-last year.
Mr Bowler said he was not interested in knowing who the new superintendent was, and believed if he was not willing to live in Kalgoorlie he should not have been given the job.
“We are the biggest town in the region, we are more than three times bigger than Northam and to be 500km away is ludicrous,” he said.
“With all the mines around here, there are more and more opportunities that can cause a fire and if there is a fire, people getting caught up in it.
“This is just another smack at Kalgoorlie-Boulder by this Government … it is just moving jobs closer to Perth.”
Mr Sadler has lived near Northam for 11 years, and Mr Gifford said it was not a requirement for him to move when accepting the role. He said the Goldfields-Midland district covered more than 800,000sqkm and the superintendent was required to regularly travel to provide support.
He confirmed the superintendent was on the scene for the recent fires in Coolgardie.
Mr Bowler also criticised DFES for closing its administration doors for two days over the Christmas and new year break when the city experienced catastrophic fire conditions.
He said with high fire warnings it was important to have the office open. “It has never happened before as far as I know but we deserve better and as mayor, I am disappointed,” he said.
Mr Gifford confirmed the office closed on Christmas and new year’s day as State Government administrative and support staff were not required to work public holidays. However, he confirmed operational staff based in Kalgoorlie were still at the office and could be reached by phone.
He said the only time the office was completely closed was on the morning of December 27 and afternoon of New Year’s Eve because all staff were attending the large-scale fires in Coolgardie.
“The Kalgoorlie Fire station is manned 24 hours-a-day, seven days-a-week,” he said.