Under fire


Under fire

Jumping for joy: Leongatha CFA members are over the moon after a VCAT hearing granted them permission to build a new fire station in Bair Street. Showing their enthusiasm were Scott Hillis, Scott Cameron, Nathan Hawkins, Andy Kay and Gary Burns. Young Noah Cameron (front) also gave the thumbs up to the new site.

FORMER Leongatha CFA captain Ray Pearson has labelled the location of the new Leongatha Fire Station as “ridiculous”.

VCAT has ruled in favour of the CFA building its new Leongatha station next to the BP Service Station in Bair Street.

The decision disappoints objectors and the South Gippsland Shire Council, and could have cost the town a large national retailer.

Mr Pearson, also a former Ruby CFA captain, has been vocal in his opposition to the station’s location.

“They’re putting it next to the biggest service station in town. If there was a major incident at the service station they wouldn’t be able to get to the trucks. That’s the number one problem,” he said.
“Number two is that it’s right on a bend, with cars flying around there.”

Mr Pearson believes a proposal to have lights near the station would also cause headaches with traffic flow around the station.

“I’ve got no idea why they didn’t choose a different site, like the old Shell depot opposite Knight’s (Hughes Street) or even the vacant block up behind Marriots (corner of Allison Street and Anderson Street). They’re perfect locations,” he said.

“You can pull out in every direction and there are no problems. The decision’s made, but I was annoyed.”

However, the CFA hierarchy is delighted. The fire station will be built to a CFA formula and will cost around $1.5 million. It should be ready for use by next April.

“We’re very pleased with the decision of VCAT,” CFA region nine operations manager Mark Jones said.

“We’re looking forward to getting the planning permit, then we’ll work with the brigade to finalise a construction schedule.

“Plans are in place but we need to sit with the brigade and tweak any internal design matters that won’t affect the planning permit.

“We hope to put it out to tender soon.”

But Mr Jones said the CFA understands the council has 28 days in which to lodge an appeal with the Supreme Court.

According to shire planning and environmental health manager Bryan Sword, there won’t be an appeal.

The Supreme Court is the only avenue through which appeals against VCAT decisions can be pursued. The costs are prohibitive.

Asked if the current station in Anderson Street would have to be sold in order to pay for the new one, Mr Jones said selling the old fire station was part of normal CFA process but the resulting capital would go into revenue for the next CFA building.

A sale would not go ahead until the brigade had shifted to its new headquarters.

Mr Jones said construction would take around 125 days. Fire stations are built to a standard design, with variations to accommodate different sized blocks of land, but the facilities are the same.

“It will be a modern, state-of-the-art building.”

It will accommodate the brigade’s needs for meetings, training and the maintenance of trucks and firefighting equipment. Lack of grounds in Anderson Street to undertake the latter is one of the major reasons for a move.

Mr Jones said maintenance, which constitutes a large part of volunteers’ time, has had to be undertaken on the apron of the Anderson Street building, creating a hazard for pedestrians and volunteers working in proximity of a busy highway.

Mr Jones said when crews return from a fire, they have to bring trucks and equipment back to operational standard; detailed and time-consuming work.

All documentation and tender work is expected to be ready by September this year, with construction starting in the new year.

Mr Jones said the new station will be good for brigade members who volunteer their time for the community.



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Posted by on Jun 19 2013. 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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