FIREFIGHTERS are taking longer to arrive at the scene of an emergency, sparking calls for more focused units to cater to the growing population.
While data shows a jump of 21 seconds for response times over the past four years, Fire and Rescue NSW say the time still clocks in under the state's target.
But the peak firefighting employee union says more can be done to improve the safety of Wagga residents.
The Fire Brigade Employees Union country representative Tim Anderson said the slowed response times could be put down to the growing roles Wagga firefighters are required to undertake.
"The crews at Turvey Park are taking on more and more roles now as the district grows, and one of the biggest ones is responding to hazardous material incidents," he said.
"They are currently the only brigade to serve in a radius of about 100km that are qualified to attend those kinds of incidents, so when they're travelling so far outside their own district, they aren't always able to respond to local emergencies as fast."
Assisting other services was also a contributing factor to the lag in responding, according to Mr Anderson.
"We are finding the Wagga crews, and all across the state as well, are having to assist ambulance services more now, so again, that's taking firefighters away from their own traditional fire response duties," he said.
The solution rested with more resources.
"Once again, more staff and designated teams would help solve this issue because it means as soon as a call comes in, there is always someone ready to take it," Mr Anderson said.
"It's not necessarily about having more fire stations, although when a district gets big enough, they are required."
In other news:
Fire and Rescue NSW data shows Turvey Park Fire Station's average incident response rate was 8 minutes and 14 seconds in 2015, compared to 8 minutes and 35 seconds in 2019.
"These response times are well below Fire and Rescue NSW's target response time of ten minutes," a spokesperson said.
"Factors contributing to the increase in response time include increased traffic in the area, population growth and an overall increase in the number of calls the station receives."
Mr Anderson said the data wasn't surprising.
"As a fire district expands, you do have slower response times - that's just the way it is," he said.
"But there is a solution to that, we just need the support to action it."