Emergency Services Minister Bob Wiese said a new regional Bush Fires Board headquarters for the Great Southern would provide better training facilities for volunteers and help increase public awareness on fire prevention.
Opening the office in Albany, Mr Wiese said the new accessible location on Chester Pass Road would assist the BFB in its role of providing advice on fire-related matters to the public, volunteer brigades, local authorities, government departments and developers.
“With the fire season just around the corner it is important that the BFB has suitable facilities from which to operate their services as well as being able to provide training programs for the volunteers,” Mr Wiese said.
The Great Southern region serviced by the BFB covers an area of more than 113,000 square kilometres and stretches from the Shire of Denmark in the south, to the Shire of West Arthur in the north and to the Shire of Esperance in the east.
Mr Wiese said fire protection provided by volunteer bush fire brigades varied throughout the region from safeguarding buildings in rural towns such as Gnowangerup, Darkan, Bremer Bay and Hopetoun to saving forests, plantations and farmlands.
He said the new facility would serve adequately as a focal point for a wide range of fire emergencies. It included a regional operations room, a fully equipped training room, radio room and a large general purpose storage shed.
“The new facility is a major improvement on the previous venue where cramped quarters played havoc for staff trying to co-ordinate fire crews during an emergency,” Mr Wiese said.
“With more than 180 volunteer bush fire brigades across the vast region it is crucial to have the proper facilities to get the job done efficiently.”
Mr Wiese said the Coalition Government was financially committed to improving the facilities and equipment of volunteer brigades and had allocated more than $8.8 million over four years to upgrade fire fighting appliances, stations, communications and to providing clothing.
“As a farmer, I know there are no short cuts in providing adequate resources for fire protection and I have made it a personal goal to maintain these reform programs after years of neglect under previous governments,” he said.
“In rural areas fire protection ultimately comes down to the dedication of the volunteers and it is important they have access to modern facilities, like this, for training and for co-ordinating their efforts during an emergency.
“Volunteers are the heart of fire protection throughout the rural areas of this State and it is essential they are given the training and support needed to do a difficult and dangerous job.”
Media contact: Mark Thompson 222 9595 or 322 2311