The station is part of a larger community complex which includes a crèche area, large kitchen facilities, meeting hall, cricket pavilion and changing facilities and a BBQ.
“It’s getting a lot of use – which is why it was built. We haven’t had these facilities since losing the fire station, school and old community centre in the 2009 bushfires and it’s so good to have it all back,” said Callignee Brigade Captain Ian Ewart.
“Even before we lost the station it wasn’t really somewhere you would invite people to. It was just a small shed really. We’ve got hot water in the new station and the community meeting room even has air conditioning! It’s set out the way we want it now.”
“Now we have this space we’ve been able to invite our local Community Fireguard Groups to attend Brigade meetings, which is working really well. We’ve begun structuring some of our training around issues that are relevant to the community – last week it was all about rehydration. We had about 30 community members attend alongside 20 Brigade members.”
The new building is the result of a joint effort between CFA, the local community, La Trobe City Council and the Department of Planning and Community Development - mainly funded by the state and local government.
The fire station has a 10,000 litre tank for emergency water supply and the Brigade recently received a new slip on unit as a result of local and corporate donations, as well as two laptops donated by Westpac.
According to Gippsland Regional Manager
“This is a three million dollar building, well beyond what you’d get at a normal fire station. A lot of work went into it. It was going to be a 1A station but the community joined together to push for this shared facility.”
“The community thinks it’s fantastic and I think that it’s really helped with the recovery process to see things happening. This facility makes it easier for everyone to interact and will help to build an even stronger community,” said Malcolm.
While around 80% of local residents are back after the 2009 fires there are still some people living in sheds and caravans, not sure whether to rebuild. This centre provides a great meeting space for everyone.
The meeting room is used heavily by the Country Women’s Association. There’s also storage space set aside for the ‘Stitch and Chat’ group which was formed not long after the fires, and around 20 members use the meeting room each Friday.
The local play group caters for around 20 kids and 15 parents, and has its own room and extensive storage space. The windows are positioned so that parents are able to keep an eye on their kids from the meeting room.
The adjoining sporting oval is used by the Callignee and Traralgon South C Grade cricket team every second Saturday, and will be used for a farmers market a few times a year.
“A youth group will be starting up here soon in addition to our Junior Brigade. We’re developing a walking track and even looking into installing gallery style picture hanging rails so we can display artwork outside the meeting room, which we’re also going to use as a badminton court!” said Captain Ian Ewart.
“My wife and I were here when the fire came within 50 meters of our house in 2009. It was a very long night. Having this facility back feels like the end of a phase – getting back to normality and having control of our own destiny.”
The new Callignee fire station and community centre was officially opened on