THE Country Fire Authority has identified a preferred area in Warrnambool for a new regional fire station estimated to cost about $5 million.
Its existing Raglan Parade station built in the 1970s is too small to handle extra equipment and staff need to cover the rapidly expanding city and district.
The Standard has confirmed a new station is on the authority’s long-term priority list and a search is under way for a suitable site.
CFA regional director Bob Barry said the precinct near the five-way Mortlake Road roundabout was the preferred location because of its proximity to residential growth zones and key roads.
“We can cover the city properly with a new central station in the right location and also enhance nearby brigades,” he said.
“It will be a significant challenge to get a parcel of land at least 6000 square metres in size.
“We can compulsorily acquire land, but we don’t want to go down that path. Our view is Warrnambool needs a new major station, the existing one is limited in space.”
He said when suitable land had been confirmed moves would be made to buy it and seek money for construction. In the meantime, the existing station is likely to be modified to accommodate a new $1m aerial pumper truck which has been sitting idle for several months as the authority and firefighters’ union negotiate issues including operational procedures and staffing.
CFA deputy chief officer Alen Slijepcevic said a decision would be made in the next few weeks on enlarging garage space. He hoped to have the truck operating soon.
“The CFA continues to work with the United Firefighters’ Union to get the aerial pumper commissioned and hopes to have the truck online in a few months,” Mr Slijepcevic said.
“Before the CFA can put the truck into service a significant amount of training and testing of the vehicle needs to be done.
“During the lengthy commission process a warranty issue was discovered and CFA is working with the manufacturer to have this fixed.”
Last year the union claimed the CFA and government were stonewalling and refusing to sign off on extra full-time staff and station accommodation.
On the weekend of the Telstra exchange fire in November the truck was sitting idle in the station yard, unable to be used.