Fire brigade officially extinguished

Spirit still burns: Bassendean Volunteer Fire Brigade captain Mike Smith is considering joining another emergency service. Picture: Marcus Whisson www.communitypix.com.au d404708
Spirit still burns: Bassendean Volunteer Fire Brigade captain Mike Smith is considering joining another emergency service. Picture: Marcus Whisson www.communitypix.com.au d404708

Despite several campaigns to keep the brigade and the station open, a final meeting was held last week and the brigade was officially deregistered.

The Brigade had been operating for 102 years.

Bassendean MLA Dave Kelly said a chapter of Bassendean’s history was over and the community was now at risk during the summer bushfire season.

‘We’ve now lost more than 60 well-trained and highly-motivated volunteers, most of whom have said they will not transfer to a proposed new brigade in Forrestfield,’ Mr Kelly said.

‘It’s also a huge loss to the Bassendean community which has proudly supported its local volunteer fire and rescue service for more than 100 years.’

Bassendean Volunteer Fire and Rescue Service captain Mike Smith said earlier this year he was considering leaving the brigade altogether and joining another emergency service.

Bassendean Mayor John Gangell said DFES had not put the community first and the decision had more to do with cost-cutting than anything else.

‘It is immensely disappointing that with than 100 years of service to our community, the State Government has formally deregistered and closed the Bassendean Volunteer Fire Bridge,’ Cr Gangell said.

He said the brigade’s assistance with fire emergencies had been vital and its running team had had great success in the fire fighter games.

In a last-minute appeal to save the brigade, a petition with more than 1100 signatures was collected, but according to Mr Kelly it was ignored.

‘However, the Minister failed to attend the subsequent meeting and left it to the commissioner to wield the axe,’ he said.

Emergency Services Minister Joe Francis said he could not attend the meeting because he was required to sit in Parliament, but the decision to close the Brigade was all about getting the best value for money for taxpayers.

‘The State Government is spending $6.7 million building a brand new fire station in Kiara to service the people around Bassendean,’ Mr Francis said.

‘Bassendean’s career fire brigade will be relocated there – but it is not viable to maintain a volunteer brigade at Kiara that’s not going to be the first or second responder for that community.

‘Decisions as to where emergency services resources are located are made by the DFES Commissioner on a risk-to-resource basis and should not be based on the influence of politicians.’