|

Coast guard on the move

THE Port Welshpool Coast Guard, which is a part of the CFA’s South Gippsland group of brigades, is settling in to its new home at Welshpool.

The former CFA station was recently upgraded and extended, to include not only the CFA but the coast guard as well.

The building was officially opened recently.

The brigade portion of the coast guard is trained to fight fires on the water, while the flotilla’s rescue operations will remain based at Port Welshpool.

Flotilla commander Rocco Maruzza said the coast guard had been involved in a few fire call outs over the years, including at the Long Jetty, twice.

“We were also involved with the Yarram fires a couple of years ago at the staging ground,” he said.

“Our truck has been used for logistics during fires and in the ’90s, the coast guard evacuated people off the beach at the Prom when it was on fire.”

Mr Maruzza said the coast guard trains with the South Gippsland group of brigades both on the water and on land several times a year.

From now on, the coast guard’s truck and a rigid inflatable boat will be housed at the Welshpool base and training and meetings will be held at Welshpool.

“Port Welshpool will remain our base; all of our radio equipment is there. We are a major part of the Victorian marine repeater network as well,” Mr Maruzza said.

Mr Maruzza said the coast guard faced ongoing funding problems, however the implementation of the marine search and rescue office (MSAR) was a positive step.

“MSAR is trying to get money for us, the first lot by 2017-18, which will be interim funding until 2020, then hopefully there will be permanent funding in place,” he said.

“Meanwhile, we have to operate like there is no funding available. We received a grant of around $18,700 earlier in the year for communication equipment for our vessel.”

Mr Maruzza said he has applied for a further grant through the boating safety facilities program for new boat motors, which will be announced in early 2017.

Two new members have recently joined the Port Welshpool Coast Guard and Mr Maruzza said a former member is returning to the crew later in the year.

“It doesn’t matter how many members we have, it is still hard to get a crew. We are all volunteers and family comes first,” he said.

Mr Maruzza said there had few incidents recently, most of them tow ins and one kayaker rescue.

He said around 20 per cent of the rescues the flotilla undertakes were kayakers or walkers in trouble, mostly at the Prom.

“It should be mandatory for kayakers to carry a personal locator beacon or an emergency position indication radio beacon, so they can be found if in trouble,” he said.

“It can be really difficult to locate them in open water, so for around $400, it could save their life.”

The joint CFA and coast guard base opened on Saturday.

Room to move: Port Welshpool Coast Guard flotilla commander Rocco Maruzza is happy with the new facility at Welshpool, which provides a home for the flotilla’s truck and other equipment and a great area for training and meetings.

Room to move: Port Welshpool Coast Guard flotilla commander Rocco Maruzza is happy with the new facility at Welshpool, which provides a home for the flotilla’s truck and other equipment and a great area for training and meetings.

Short URL: http://thestar.com.au/?p=20128

Posted by on Nov 29 2016. Filed under Featured. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

You must be logged in to post a comment Login

Recently Commented

  • gatha4: Thankyou to The Star for your interest in and support for Aaron and his family. Trista’s Kitchen is...
  • gigamax1: Truth is,most of these jobs will be taken by overseas labour,just like the other horticulture in this and...
  • gigamax1: These shops are just a bad investment,admittedly made no better by the bypass, but even if the bypass came...
  • vbresident: I applaud Cr. Jim Fawcett on his work-related ethics, which are reminiscent of past Councils. I can...
  • reality: After the board meeting where the Department of Health Secretary was again there to discuss some of the...