By Jackson Russell –
PYALONG CFA members are pushing for a much-needed upgrade to the brigade’s facilities. The brigade has been waiting for a new station for 15 years.
With barely enough room to fit the brigade’s two fire trucks, members have started to store equipment off-site on private property.
Members also have no toilet facilities at the station and have to use nearby public toilets or simply go ‘out the back’.
Pyalong CFA captain Brendan Kelly said the lack of facilities made life difficult for its nearly 30 active members.
Mr Kelly said it had also made it hard for the brigade to attract new members, particularly females.
“It’s hard to ask them to join when you’re not up to date for both male and females. It’s okay for us blokes, we can just go out the side but they’re a bit different aren’t they,” he said.
The brigade had to demolish its office to accommodate its second truck in its engine room, moving the office into the meeting room which has also become cramped.
Member for Euroa Steph Ryan said Pyalong volunteers were stuck in a bureaucratic impasse, 15 years after they were first told they were in the queue for a new shed.
“It is unfair that the hard-working members of the brigade are still in limbo, more than a decade after they were first told they were on the list to receive a new or upgraded station,” she said.
“The government needs to step in and find a way through this red tape which has become the source of long-running frustration for local volunteers.”
While the brigade would like to extend its current home on High Street, a new site on the Northern Highway has been identified by the CFA.
“It’s out of our hands, it’s up there somewhere but there’s no responsibility being taken. It’s just stagnant,” Mr Kelly said.
“We’ve been incredibly lucky this summer that we haven’t been impacted like the north-east and East Gippsland, but our turn will come and if we’re not up to date with our facilities, machinery and gear, it could look embarrassing.”
A CFA statement said to determine stations and sites for redevelopment, the CFA takes into consideration factors such as community risk profile and service delivery needs.
“CFA is aware of the need to improve the station for the Pyalong brigade,” the statement said.
“CFA is planning for a new fire station at Pyalong in the future as funding becomes available.
“All new CFA station builds include toilet facilities as a standard feature, as well as sufficient storage space for equipment and infrastructure.
“Public toilet facilities are currently available to the brigade in nearby parkland.
“A preferred site has been identified and negotiations are progressing with VicRoads to secure it.”