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.