THE Wonthaggi Fire Brigade’s new $2.8 million fire station was lauded as a triumph in community goodwill and partnerships.
Brigade captain Kim O’Connor said the state of the art facility was “second to none” and “the envy of many” as he welcomed guests to the official opening.
He paid tribute to bridge members, many with years of experience in the building industry, for coming up with the design and carrying out the construction works.
He also thanked the Bass Coast Shire Council for not only making the land available, but for its support throughout the process of developing the site that will cater for the growing community for decades to come.
The ceremony included moments to remember past members, lowering the flag at the former Watt Street site, raising flags at the new facility, a parade of brigade vehicles through the town and a march to the new facility from members supported by the Wonthaggi Citizens’ Band.
Minister for Police and Emergency Services and Bushfire Response Kim Wells was there at the ceremony.
Mr Wells was joined by Bass MP Ken Smith to officially open the new station and also hand over the keys to a Scania Type 4 heavy pumper to Captain O’Connor.
“This new fire station is impressive by any standard and I congratulate the efforts of the CFA, with the support of the community and local business in contributing to the $2.8 million project,” Mr Wells said.
“I truly believe that the spirit of community protection that was around back in 1910 – when Wonthaggi’s first fire brigade was formed – remains among CFA members of today.
“This project is testament to the partnership between state government and Bass Coast Shire Council working together with the CFA to deliver a vital piece of infrastructure for the local community.”
Mr Wells said the heavy pumper had been redeployed from Ballarat City CFA to assist with community protection in Wonthaggi and surrounding districts.
“The pumper has greater pumping capacity than the truck previously used by the Wonthaggi brigade, and extra breathing apparatuses which allows for quicker deployment into structure fires,” Mr Wells said.
Mr Wells said the old pumper would be refurbished and later used in other CFA brigades.
Mr Smith also presented the keys to a new $60,000 forward command 4WD wagon to the Wonthaggi brigade.
“The forward command vehicle was part funded by a $40,000 Volunteer Emergency Services Equipment Program (VESEP) grant and will provide an enormous benefit to Wonthaggi fire station in responding to emergencies,” Mr Wells said.
“VESEP is an excellent Victorian Coalition Government program that provides grants to help volunteer emergency services agencies purchase operational equipment they otherwise could not afford.”
“We are proud to support our emergency services with the tools and resources they need to do their job.
“Members of the Wonthaggi fire station have been involved in assisting the firefighting effort in Hazlewood and Gippsland.
“I’d like to take this opportunity to particularly thank the firefighters who have been working extremely hard throughout this fire season. Their efforts are to be commended.
“Volunteers are the backbone of our emergency response.”