News & Media

New Wycheproof emergency base

  • From left, Cameron Arnel, Gary Driscoll, Peter Walsh, Mary Barry, Mike Wassing
  • From left, Michelle Ryan (10 years), Graeme Coles (45 years), Bill Matheson (40 years) and Gary Driscoll (30 years)

By: Leith Hillard

Category: Events / Fundraising / Offers

  2.33 PM 11 October, 2013

Location: District 18 News

Views: 3265

Sunday 6 October 2013 will be recorded as an historical day for both the Wycheproof CFA and SES units as the two emergency services marked the opening of the new $1.55million dollar facility with a large gathering of official guests and local residents in attendance.

The Hon. Peter Walsh, Minister for Agriculture & Food Security, Minister for Water and Member for Swan Hill formally opened the new shared premises in Dempsey Street, as the themes of collaboration and the new approach to emergency management in Victoria of 'All Hazards-All Agencies' were reinforced during the proceedings.

Story and photos by Jenny Pollard courtesy of the Buloke Times

“The CFA and SES now have a modern base with up-to-date facilities which is a far cry from the previous SES base which was little more than two very old shire garages that were in poor condition, too small and in the wrong place," said Mr Walsh.

“I think what you see here is a really important statement by both the SES and CFA to Wycheproof , to the Buloke Shire and to regional Victoria. There wouldn’t be too many places in regional Victoria that have a shed like this in their community. We see some of these in major regional cities, but not necessarily in the country towns, so it’s a great statement for Wycheproof."

The new base includes a three-bay appliance room with fully motorised roller doors for each agency with both the brigade and unit also having their own spaces for protective clothing, equipment storage and meeting rooms.

Both SES and CFA have also recently received new vehicles.

CFA now has a new $335,000 fire and rescue medium tanker with a 2,350-litre water tank plus a $222,000 light pumper with foam tank and 1,200 litre water tank.

GrainCorp has donated a Toyota Hilux to the SES, with Grain Corp representative Geoff Nicholson (standing in for Grain Corp Regional Manager, Scott Whitmore) formally handing over the keys to Wycheproof SES Unit Controller, Cameron Arnel.

Mr Walsh also paid tribute to all the volunteers both past and present.

“It’s interesting to note that the brigade’s first station, built around 1895-97, was constructed by Fred Blabey who was a firefighter with the brigade,” Mr Walsh said. “Peter Blabey who oversaw the building of the new Wycheproof Emergency Services Building is actually descendent of Fred Blabey, so in country communities you tend to see that intergenerational volunteerism handed down through the family in many organisations.”

Preceding the formal unveiling of the plaque, SES CEO Mary Barry and CFA Regional Director for Loddon Mallee Regio, Mike Wassing also addressed the gathering, recognising the essential role local government plays in leading incident management. Both also emphasised the benefits which collaboration between the two agencies will bring to the volunteer base from which support is drawn.

Mike also acknowledged the collaborative local input saying, “This great new facility which we see here today is testament to that. Your local reference group – there’s been a lot of people involved in that - Michelle Ryan, Gary Driscoll, Sue Tunstall, Cameron Arnel and many others - have been instrumental in what I describe as the 'back office' collaboration to make this work, and these things are ultimately about the people who pull it together.”

This special day also saw the presentation of a number of Long Service Awards, and was to include the presentation of a National Medal to CFA member Len Harrison, who unfortunately wasn’t well enough to attend the event. Announcing the recipients CFA Board Member, Michael Tudball, indicated that Len’s extraordinary 66 years of service would be acknowledged at a future presentation.

Assisting Michael with the presentations was Bill Johnstone, CFA Operations Manager, District 18.
CFA members to receive Long Service Awards on the day were:

Michelle Ryan:
10 Year medal
Years of Service: 10
Signed up: 15/05/2003
Current Position: Firefighter (10 years)
Previous Positions Held: 4th Lieutenant - 2005 - 2009 (4 years)
       1st Lieutenant 2009 - 2013 (4 years)

Gary Driscoll:
30 Year medal
Years of Service:  30
Signed up: 17/01/1983
Current Position: Captain - Wycheproof Fire Brigade - since 2002 (11 years)
          1st Deputy Group Officer - Tyrrell Group - since 2011 (two years)
Previous positions held: 
           Wycheproof Fire Brigade:   2nd Lieutenant - 1995 - 1999 (2 years)
                             1st Lieutenant - 1999 - 2002 (3 years)
                                 Firefighter (30 years)
        Tyrrell Group: 3rd Deputy Group Officer - 2001 - 2011 (10 years)

Bill Matheson:
40 Year medal
Years of Service: 40
Signed up: 8/10/1973
Current Position: Firefighter – (40 years)
Previous Positions Held: Secretary - 1987-89 (2 years)
        Communications Officer - 2003-09 (6 years)

Graeme Coles:
45 Year medal
Years of Service:  (45)
Signed up: 28/10/1968
Current Position: Firefighter - 45 years
Previous Positions Held: 4th Lieutenant - 1993 - 1995 (2 years)

Other medal recipients, David Coates (10 years) and Stanley Prater (55years) were not in attendance.

The ceremony was followed by a mock CFA/ SES demonstration before a barbeque luncheon.

Last Updated: 11 October 2013