Use of RFS van sparks protests and resignation

FED UP: RFS volunteers not happy with the RFS catering truck being used to feed police at the Doubtful Creek CSG blockade: Brian Spencer, Mark Palmer, Hayley Katzu, Jennifer Lewis and Don Durrant, from local RFS units.
FED UP: RFS volunteers not happy with the RFS catering truck being used to feed police at the Doubtful Creek CSG blockade: Brian Spencer, Mark Palmer, Hayley Katzu, Jennifer Lewis and Don Durrant, from local RFS units. Patrick Gorbunovs

THE USE of a Rural Fire Service catering van and volunteers to feed police at yesterday's Doubtful Creek protest has sparked outrage among RFS members who oppose coal seam gas.

The van was used for police catering at a temporary headquarters on a quarry 100m from the protest site, a quarry also used by Metgasco trucks to provide gravel for their Doubtful Creek drilling site.

A number of angry RFS members attending the protest were demanding an explanation for the use of the catering van yesterday, citing a serious conflict of interest.

One RFS volunteer of 29 years, Toonumbar farmer Don Durrant, was so furious he resigned his position publicly.

Mr Durrant said he was angered by the use of RFS resources in support of an industry the majority of local residents were opposed to - and said also had the potential to cause fires.

"If there's a gas fire here, we're expected to come and put it out - that means putting our lives and health on the line," Mr Durrant said.

Several other RFS volunteers and supporters joined Mr Durrant in condemning the use of RFS resources in yesterday's police operation.

Rock Valley resident Adrienne Stones, said she was reconsidering future donations to the RFS.

"I'm a massive supporter of the RFS but this is just a slap in the face to farmers," Ms Stones said.

"It makes me think very hard about whether or not to donate in the future."

According to a statement later by the RFS, the catering was requested and paid for by police.

"However, following feedback from the community ...NSW RFS agrees that this is a contentious local issue that should not involve its volunteers," the statement said.

"Consequently, the NSW RFS will no longer provide catering for this operation."

Topics:  coal seam gas doubtful creek blockade police

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