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Warrnambool & Portland stations off and running
Two new fire stations in Victoria’s South West became operational today (1 April) as firefighters at Warrnambool and Portland brigades started turning out to incidents for the first time from their new locations.
Today also marks the ‘go live’ date for the Warrnambool aerial pumper following sign-off from CFA Chief Officer Joe Buffone yesterday.
The high-tech truck is fitted with a 19-metre boom and will bolster the brigade’s capacity to attack structure fires from an elevated position.
Both new fire stations are ‘integrated’, which means they will provide a base for both volunteer and career (staff) firefighters. And both are major milestones for Project 2016 – a major program of infrastructure, recruitment and training works which has been underway since 2011 to enable the growth of CFA’s operational workforce.
The bigger and better facilities, which include offices, dormitories and administrative spaces, will allow for an increase in career firefighters at both locations.
From today, the number of career firefighters at Warrnambool will rise from three to six per shift, with 15 extra personnel in total coming into the brigade.
Plans are underway to bolster staffing at Portland in the near future.
Acting Assistant Chief Officer Gregg Paterson said the new stations and equipment would mean a huge improvement in response capability – a positive for the community but also for the brigades.
Speaking about Warrnambool, CFA District 5 Operations Manager Richard Bourke said the standard of service and coverage to the community would improve immensely.
“The aerial pumper at Warrnambool will allow us to double our water pumping capability and allow for far more effective attack on fires. It will mean less time on scene for volunteers, who will be able to get home to their families faster.
He praised Officer-in-Charge Henry Barton for his efforts in working with the brigade to make the project and the transition as smooth as possible.
“There are hurdles such as construction issues that come with the building of any fire station and Henry has done a fantastic job of working through those."
Warrnambool – and particularly the north of Warrnambool – has experienced rapid population growth in recent years with a rise in the number and density of residential properties and factories.
Portland, on the other hand, has a risk profile more closely linked to industry.
Portland Fire Brigade Officer-In-Charge Gary Harker said the expanded facility gave the brigade capability to introduce 24-hour staffing in the future, a huge benefit to a town which is home to the largest export port in Victoria.
“Portland has a unique risk profile and a lot of long-running incidents,” Gary said.
“We have the largest port in Australia, with a truck every minute into the port and 12,000 tonnes of both sulphuric acid and tar pitch each month. The biggest wood chip exporter in the world is based here, with a truck delivering woodchips coming into the port every minute.”
Gary said it was exciting to see the station open after months of construction.
“This gives us a fantastic facility that both the brigade and CFA can be proud of. We now have far superior facilities for operations, training and administration. That benefits the surrounding brigades as well that come into Portland for training.
“This gives the brigade a home for another 50 years”.