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Pakenham, in CFA’s Southern Metropolitan Region, is one of the fastest growing areas in Victoria.
The urban interface suburb is expanding at a rapid rate and the local fire station is answering an average 520 calls a year.
So the decision to integrate career firefighters with local volunteers was a natural step forward and one that was very welcomed today (23 June) as the first shift of Firefighter Kevin Ruys, Firefighter Chris Payne and Senior Station Officer David Ellams officially began their duties.
Officer-in-Charge Pakenham/Cardinia Jim Dore explained the 15 career firefighters who will now operate from the Princes Highway station will work with the 16 brigades that make up the local group.
“We estimate the career staff will attend up to 650 incidents in a year, because they are working so far out with all the brigades,” said Jim.
“They’ll be traveling and supporting those local brigades, participating in training and working in the communities. It’s a really important advance and one the community here has been looking forward to.”
Pakenham Brigade Lieutenant Phil Craig says the area is quite diverse with huge growth in residential properties, but the industrial expansion adds another dimension. “And we’re not far from major grassland areas and scrub. We’re a very busy station with more than 500 calls being attended by 45 operational volunteers. It will be good to be able to work with career staff,” said Phil.
The six-year-old station at Pakenham has been recently upgraded and extended and is unique because it's the only integrated CFA station to be collocated with SES and a police station.
“They’re also really pleased to be getting new full time neighbours 24/7. We work very closely with SES and VicPol so this is a great example of modern interoperability between emergency services,” said Jim.
On the truck Firefighters Chris Payne and Shane Boyington.
Leading Firefighter Ugar Ali, Station Officer Graham Symons, Senior Station Officer David Ellams, Officer in Charge Jim Dore, Leading Firefighter Kevin Ruys