The Importance Of Rural Fire Stations:
Regional Director Pat O'Brien from Loddon Mallee has offered some important observations about the rural fire station program. The first relates to comments made by the Captain of Sandhill Lake (a locality in D20 without any community infrastructure whatsoever and an old tin clad wooden framed station without any facilities situated on the roadside of the Kerang - Quambatook Road) at the opening of the new 1B station late last year. His comments are paraphrased as follows: "We put up with poor roads, poor mobile phone coverage, slow or non-existent internet, almost no council services and no community infrastructure. CFA and the Government have now provided this wonderful fire station and it will benefit not only the Brigade but the whole community. Thank you. We are very grateful for this investment and demonstration of faith in our future after the years of drought, floods, mice and locusts. This station will help us to continue." The second concerns two stations, also opened by Minister Walsh, late last year; Waitchie and Annuello. Both new 1B stations replaced tin shed motor rooms without any facilities; additionally, neither community had any workable community infrastructure. Both Brigades are Rural and are located in dryland cropping areas. Waitchie Brigade and FS now host a weekly community get together every Friday night where the community gathers to have a fish and chip meal. Annuello, centrally located in Robinvale Group now hosts CFA training activities and local community meetings for which there was no previous suitable venue.
Pat goes on to say that "It has been my experience, and I am sure that of other RDs, that it is almost impossible for a brigade to remain viable in a highly stressed or disintegrating community. Similarly, if community morale is low or if community leadership is absent so too will morale be low and leadership absent in the brigade. Only in the most exceptional circumstances can a viable brigade in an ‘at risk' community turn around that community. Conversely, it has been our direct experience that a strong community can resurrect an ‘at risk' brigade, one whose viability is at risk, although this has been a very challenging task. Brigade and community, with the right relationship, critically support each other. Our RFS Program across CFA has been investing and continues to invest, jointly in brigades and communities. This investment is highly productive in supporting CFA's operational capability and capacity and, coincidentally, in producing social capital for the State of Victoria."
Seventy Four Medium Tankers:
As part of the 2011/12 build program CFA is constructing 74 medium tankers. The specification of these tankers can be viewed on CFA Connect. It includes the following key functional features: