Wednesday, 27 September 2023
MEMBER for Northern Tablelands Adam Marshall is continuing his campaign for a new and upgraded fire station at Walcha, turning up the pressure on the Emergency Services Minister with more questions in State Parliament about when the critical works will be undertaken.
Mr Marshall placed further questions to the Minister on Parliament’s notice paper last week, following the handing down of the 2023-24 Budget, requesting the Minister to advise when funding would be allocated and when work would start on a new fit-for-purpose station.
The existing Walcha station was built in 1966 and there have been no upgrades or extensions since that time, with larger fire trucks and more personal safety gear putting the squeeze on what little space there is.
“Times have moved on since 1966 when the smaller fire truck, male-only firefighters and fare less safety and protective gear didn’t fill this little station to the brim,” Mr marshall said.
“Today, the 57-year-old station is simply not up to scratch for modern firefighting operations – it is far too small and does not have the mandatory safety areas, training space, changerooms or amenities.
“Put simply, the conditions are appalling for our local firefighters and far from conducive to attracting new men and women into the service – this needs to change.”
After inspecting the station in June and discussing conditions with local firefighters, Mr Marshall questioned the Minister on what plans the government had to upgrade the existing station or build a new one.
The Minister replied in late July that an assessment of station in February this year “…confirmed the facility is not reflective of the needs of a modern and diverse fire and rescue service.”
He also told Parliament that, in regard to when any upgrade works would be undertaken, “the timing and scope of works is dependent upon the annual budget process.”
Mr Marshall said now that the new government’s first Budget had been handed down, he was pressing the Minister for further detail on the scope of the proposed works, total cost and when the community could expect those works to begin.
“The Budget provided additional funds to Fire & Rescue NSW to upgrade more of its stations and build new ones, just like we are seeing in Uralla right now,” Mr Marshall said.
“The Walcha station should be immediately prioritised for funding under Fire & Rescue NSW’s Fit for Purpose Program so a new and larger facility can be constructed on the existing site.
“Walcha’s firefighters do an extraordinary job protecting the community I am determined to work to secure the funding so that the station can be rebuilt on the existing block of land to better cater for the firefighters and their equipment into the future.
“I now eagerly await the Minister’s reply in Parliament in the hope it will provide some good news for the Walcha community.”
The Minister5 has until 26 October 2023 to answer Mr Marshall’s questions in the Parliament.
Mr Marshall’s most recent Question on Notice to the Minister can be found here: www.parliament.nsw.gov.au/la/papers/pages/qanda-tracking-details.aspx?pk=97295
Mr Marshall’s initial questions, as well as the Minister’s reply, can be found here: www.parliament.nsw.gov.au/la/papers/pages/qanda-tracking-details.aspx?pk=95578