Fire station upgrades to entice more women

Seven fire stations lacking dedicated female amenities will be upgraded to encourage more women to join male-dominated Fire & Rescue NSW.

The addition of private showers, toilets and change rooms for female personnel would remove a "huge barrier", NSW Treasurer Matt Kean said on Wednesday.

A 10-year, $50 million fund will be used to upgrade the initial seven stations stretching from Thredbo to Newcastle, with more due to be announced over the coming year.

While nine in 10 permanent firefighters are men, FRNSW Commissioner Paul Baxter said there was no specific quota in place for female firefighters.

Instead, he said the aim was increasing diversity across the board to better reflect the communities that fire crews serve, including accepting more Indigenous people.

"Our primary calling is reducing fatalities and injuries and loss of structures by fire," Mr Baxter said.

"So if we reflect those communities, we're better able to engage with them and make progress against those targets."

About 8000 people apply to become a firefighter in NSW every year but only 100 to 150 are accepted on a permanent basis.

Another 400-odd are placed as on-call firefighters, responding to emergencies from their home or other workplaces as required.

Lee Bennett works as an on-call firefighter at Merrylands station which will undergo an upgrade and as one of four women said she has always felt like part of the team.

"They did organise some space for us but it was just what they could do with what they had," Ms Bennett said.

"So we're a little bit squashed in there."

She said upgrading the station with dedicated facilities for women would allow things to run more smoothly.

"There will definitely be more space for us when we're actually turning out to jobs so we won't be bumping into each other and we'll be able to get on the pump and respond a lot faster," she said.

Giving female firefighters the amenities they require would improve the quality of the service overall, Emergency Services Minister Steph Cooke said.

"Every graduation it's pleasing to see dozens more women joining the firefighting ranks and, as the state's first female emergency services minister, I'm immensely proud to be delivering a program that will make it easier for women of the future to follow their lead," Ms Cooke said.

The station upgrades are in addition to a number of new fire stations planned to be built, including in the growing suburbs of Ryde and Oran Park in Sydney, as well as at Muswellbrook in the Hunter and Kingscliff in the state's far north.