New CFA station for the South
by Sandi Miller
6th June 2016
BIG changes are afoot for South Warrandyte Fire Brigade.
The brigade is moving in July to their new home in Falconer Rd where the volunteers will be joined by a contingent of paid firefighters.
Greg Kennedy has stood down as captain, with the role being abolished as part of the integration process, and operations officer Jamie Hansen now appointed as officer in charge.
Mr Kennedy is returning to the rank of firefighter after six years in the captain’s chair and he says he is very proud of the work he has achieved.
“I have had a wonderful experience being involved in with the CFA over the past 32 years, it is a tremendous organisation full of tremendous people, which I will continue to serve from back in the ranks,” he said.
“We are very fortunate that other than the three houses that were lost in 2014, we have managed to ensure that Warrandyte remains safe, and there are lots of capable people ready to continue to do that into the future.”
There will be a roster of 20 new firefighters at the station, with many drawn from the local area.
“Two of the station officers live in Warranwood and another station officer was previously a volunteer member at Warrandyte … people who understand what we do in this part of the world, because it is, after all, a special place,” Mr Kennedy said.
Jamie Hansen is a staff officer in the CFA and has been attached to the brigade as integration officer for the past two years.
As incoming officer-in-charge, he says the move will see a benefit to the community in terms of faster response times across the whole of the Greater Warrandyte area.
“Having career staff within the brigade at the new station will significantly enhance the response times, we will have a minimum crew of four paid firefighters on a truck, out the door in under 90 seconds, and because of our quicker response times it enables us to get further a field and support more of the surrounding brigades, including the MFB,” he said.
The outgoing captain believes the difficulty of providing a consistent service to the community with volunteers is a growing challenge.
“There was a time 20-30 years ago when there were a number of people working every day in the Greater Warrandyte area but they don’t do that any more – there are always some members available, but there are times, not often, when the brigade struggles to have sufficient members available to respond to calls; as a captain of a brigade, the potential of not being able to re- spond to a call causes a great deal of concern,” he said.
He believes having career staff will alleviate most of that concern.
“There will be four fire fighters responding within 90 seconds of a call being received – 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year. The pressure on brigades will be reduced significantly and, as a bonus, the ability of all brigades in the Greater Warrandyte area to improve our service delivery has increased tremendously – so why wouldn’t we want this result for our community,” he said.
Operations officer Hansen said another benefit for the Greater Warrandyte community is both career firefighters and volunteers will be trained as “first responders” for medical emergencies.
“You will see the South Warrandyte brigade responding to medical events that have been reported to Ambulance Victoria … we will be responded to assist the ambulance with specialist medical gear including defibrillators,” he said.
The brigade will still be active within the community with fire safety presentations and other programs.
“We will have more capacity to get to some of the schools in the area and I would encourage schools to visit the CFA website and register their interest in Fire Safe Kids program,” Mr Hansen said.
The construction and fit-out of the station is nearing completion, however, the brigade will continue to operate from Brumbys Road until the move to Falconer Road in July.
Mr Hansen said the new arrangements would begin on July 22.
“Day shift starts at 8am when the volunteer crews will be bringing the vehicles from the old station to the new station and hand over to the new staff,” he said.
See more in next month’s Diary.