Photo caption: NSW Fire and Rescue Zone Commander Inspector Wayne Zikan, left, Walcha on-call firefighter Paul Fritsch, Member for Northern Tablelands Adam Marshall, Walcha on-call firefighter Charmaine Ahrens and Captain Peter Dunn AFSM, outside the Walcha Fire Station last week.
Wednesday, 21 June 2023
MEMBER for Northern Tablelands Adam Marshall has today launched a campaign for a new and upgraded fire station at Walcha, following an onsite meeting with the local Fire and Rescue Station crew last week.
During the visit Mr Marshall heard the existing 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.”
Yesterday, Mr Marshall put down a question on State Parliament’s notice paper asking the Minister for Emergency Services about the facilities at the station what plans the government had to upgrade the existing station or build a new one.
“Firefighters are forced to change into protective gear at the time of callout – which is inside the garage, open to and in view of passing public and where their equipment becomes engulfed by exhaust fumes,” Mr Marshall said.
“There are no female changerooms and amenities and no decontamination and clean and dirty areas.”
Mr Marshall said the Walcha Fire and Rescue team had recently been qualified as rescue responders for the town and the outlying district, adding another important duty to their skills.
“In addition to this, six new firefighters who have almost completed their training will be joining Walcha Fire & Rescue team shortly – requiring more space for the new recruits,” he said.
Mr Marshall said Fire & Rescue NSW’s Fit for Purpose Program and the Enhanced 10-year program for privacy and inclusion recognises the need for essential upgrades to ensure stations are up to modern standards.
“The Walcha station should be immediately prioritised for funding under this program so a new and larger facility can be constructed on the existing site,” Mr Marshall said.
“The Walcha 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.”
Mr Marshall’s question, placed on the Notice Paper yesterday:
My question is to the Minister for Emergency Services,
In relation to the Walcha Fire & Rescue Station:
(a) When was the last audit of facilities at the Walcha Fire & Rescue Station conducted?
(b) What was the outcome of that audit?
(c) Are there any plans to upgrade, expand or replace the Walcha Fire & Rescue Station to ensure it is for-for-purpose?
Asked on 20 June 2023. Answer due on 25 July 2023.