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Volunteers call for more consultation

Jacinta CantatoreHarvey-Waroona Reporter
Premier Mark McGowan, Collie-Preston MLA Mick Murray and Emergency Services Minister Francis Logan with emergency service personnel at the announcement.
Camera IconPremier Mark McGowan, Collie-Preston MLA Mick Murray and Emergency Services Minister Francis Logan with emergency service personnel at the announcement. Credit: Supplied

The State’s peak body for volunteer firefighters has slammed the State Government for “yet again” ignoring the voices of volunteer brigades.

On Thursday, Premier Mark McGowan and Emergency Services Minister Francis Logan announced plans to build a new multi-purpose bushfire management facility in Collie.

The $8 million DFES facility will include an incident control centre, emergency driver training school and regional fleet maintenance and storage.

Association of Volunteer Bush Fire Brigades acting chief executive officer Darren Brown said the association had not been involved in the planning of the new centre or in the recently-announced Bushfire Centre of Excellence which is to be based in Nambeelup, near Pinjarra.

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“As the peak body for WA’s incredible bush fire volunteers, we are a little disappointed that the government yet again didn't take us up on our repeated offers to help during the development stage.”

About 12 full-time employees will be based at the centre, which is aimed at providing support to both career and volunteer emergency services personnel, including firefighters and SES in Collie and the South West.

“The AVBFB understands the need for the government to invest in Collie, and we hope doing so will also benefit other nearby communities that have directly suffered loss through major incidents in recent times such as Yarloop and Harvey,” Mr Brown said.

“We once again offer to collaborate with the government as plans progress and implore it to not only engage us as the peak body for WA’s bushfire volunteers, but also the deeply experienced crews from local brigades including Yarloop and Harvey.”

About 70 of DFES’ high fire season fleet will be stored at the new facility and all South West appliances could be sent to the centre for maintenance and repairs.

Mr Brown said more consultation was needed to ensure the facility met the needs of the brigades.

“Based on the limited information we currently have, we provide in principle support for this initiative, however, we have questions such as how the Rural Fire Division might be involved and what relationship the regional vehicle maintenance depot will have with the strongly controlled O'Connor workshop.”

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