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Sunday Telegraph
Sun Feb 14, 2010

Abused firefighters urged to come forward

Abuse claims ... firefighters are urged to report allegations of abuse. (ABC)

The New South Wales Fire Brigade chief says firefighters who have been abused at the hands of colleagues should immediately report the allegations to police.

In today's Sunday Telegraph newspaper, former firefighters have raised claims recruits were subjected to bastardisation during initiation ceremonies in past decades.

Fire Brigade commissioner Greg Mullins says any victims should come forward.

"The disgusting things that are alleged to have happened decades ago have no place in the modern fire services and would never be tolerated," he said.

"I suppose it's impossible to give a guarantee that this behaviour has been totally stamped out but we've had no reports, we've had no-one come forward. It's very clear in all our publications and training and the culture of the organisation that it won't be tolerated and we do want people to come forward."

Earlier this month, seven men including five serving fire-fighters were charged over the indecent assault of an officer at a Sydney fire station in 1989.

The allegations were first reported to police last year.

The New South Wales Opposition says the allegations are disturbing.

Opposition emergency services spokeswoman Melinda Pavey has suggested the abuse allegations may have been covered up.

"It appears to me that there has been a cover-up at all levels," she said.

"It's imperative that Minister Steve Whan comes out today and explains what he knew and when he knew it."

But NSW Emergency Services Minister, Steve Whan, says action is taken when allegations are raised.

"It's obvious that the Government will take action was soon as we hear about these sorts of allegations," he said.

"We have seen some charges laid. I want to make it absolutely clear that this sort of behaviour is totally unacceptable in the Fire Brigade."