Action station

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Action station

Integrated operations: CFA Prom Country operations officer, Simon Bloink and DSE’s South Gippsland fire manager, Geoff Pike in the upgraded centre in Leongatha.

LEONGATHA will now be at the centre of any emergency in the South Gippsland and Bass Coast shires.
The town is the base for a new incident control centre overseeing the two municipalities in such incidents as fires and floods.
The revamped level three centre could even be used to manage interstate events.
Leongatha was chosen for its central location and proximity to surrounding townships.
The centre was established as part of the 2009 Victorian Bushfires Royal Commission’s recommendations. It will result in improved incident reaction times and allow warnings, messages, fire behaviour and weather patterns to be quickly distributed to emergency services and the public.
The royal commission’s findings from the Black Saturday bushfires noted a number of problems arising due to differing systems operated by the Country Fire Authority, and Department of Sustainability and Environment. Staff encountered problems accessing information such as warnings, maps and situation reports.
The new centre, part of the State Government’s $120.9 million program to establish up to 30 such centres around Victoria, integrates CFA and DSE operating systems.
DSE’s South Gippsland fire manager, Geoff Pike said previous operations have been run from agency specific offices, such as smaller CFA fire stations and Parks Victoria offices.
“This is an all hazards control centre, so it could be fire, floods, locusts, oil spills; whatever the issue actually is,” he said.
CFA Prom Country operations officer, Simon Bloink said the new centre was wired to accommodate a number of operations.
“No matter who walks in with their own laptops or computers, they can sit down and go to work,” he said.
With support from the CFA and DSE, the centre is available for use by any emergency service, including the State Emergency Service and police.
“Theoretically, it can go beyond the state too,” Mr Pike said.
“If the Federal Government had a requirement to run incidents here, this centre would be available.”
The facility has also been equipped with new infrastructure.
An interactive whiteboard can be used to send updated maps to the fire service commissioner and regional commanders.
“It’s a multimedia tool that enables you to have vision and schematics on it, to enable more effective communication,” Mr Pike said.
Mr Bloink said CFA and DSE officers are now undertaking training and accrediting people to operate the centres.
“We need to expand our capability in incident management. There are staff available to do that, but we need more options,” he said.
While the centre has been in place for more than 12 months and operational since mid-2010, discussions concerning the location for a level three centre in District 9 had occurred since the 2003 bushfires.
Mr Pike said the royal commission’s recommendations enabled the centre to be funded.
The centre is yet to be used in an emergency, but provided support for a grassfire in Inverloch earlier this year.
An exercise to test the facility in December resulted in only a few minor issues.
Talks are underway to relocate the centre in the future.
“This facility has been established to ensure we have appropriate capability, however it’s not ideal because it’s split level and right in the middle of an urban area,” Mr Pike said.
“Eventually we’d be looking for another location that’s more purpose built.”

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Posted by superadmin on Feb 23 2011. Filed under Featured, News. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

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