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Official opening at Blackwood
On Sunday 19 January 2014, the Blackwood Fire Station and Community Fire Refuge was officially opened by the Premier of Victoria, The Hon Dr Denis Napthine.
The facility, built to meet the requirements of both a fire station and community fire refuge, was designed by fire engineers to survive the severest of fires to provide a haven as a last resort for the Blackwood community.
The Minister for Police and Emergency Services Kim Wells attended the opening. "This is the first time in Victoria, and probably the world, that a combined fire station and community fire refuge have been planned, designed and constructed from scratch," Kim Wells said.
“Leaving early is still the safest option,” he said, “however, this new $1.5 million facility now offers the Blackwood community a place of last resort. It should not be considered a substitute for a planned and practised personal survival plan."
Blackwood is surrounded by the Wombat State Forest and Lerderderg State Park, so is in the middle of a fire-prone area with few bushfire survival options.
The facility directly meets one of the recommendations of the Victorian Bushfires Royal Commission.
It has a remote opening system and direct contact with the Incident Control Centre in Ballarat and the State Control Centre in Melbourne. Other features include heat shields, a standby power generator and a fire protection system which will ensure the refuge can be operated by the community.
During the official proceedings, Captain Ian Stewart was presented with an automated external defibrillator (AED) on behalf of the brigade. The AED was funded through the Volunteer Emergency Services Equipment Program. When accepting the defibrillator, Ian expressed his thanks for the program and said, “If it saves one life, it will be well worthwhile."
Four of the 29 members of Blackwood brigade were recognised with service medals.