WEST Gidgegannup Volunteer Bush Fire Brigade is calling on the City of Swan to approve plans to build a fire station.
The volunteer brigade is the only brigade in WA that does not currently have a station.
Brigade equipment and vehicles are housed at a number of properties belonging to volunteers; with members concerned unless a dedicated station is built it could lead to a disaster heading into bushfire season.
Councillors will vote on Wednesday night on whether to contribute $632,500 and approve works to begin, which will be added to the $1.13 million already allocated by the Department of Fire and Emergency Services, but the proposed station is estimated to cost more than $2.28 million, leaving a shortfall of $518,000 worth of funding.
Volunteers are concerned that due to the shortfall, the building of the station will be put off for a further two years, causing safety concerns over two bush fire seasons.
Members believe they can build the station at a cost of $1.4 million if the City works with the brigade and are asking the council to approve the plan to get the ball rolling.
Member of the brigade Anthony Brine said during the City’s agenda briefing session last week he didn’t understand how the largest council in WA was the only with a brigade that didn’t have a purpose-built station.
He said he was concerned council would not approve plans to go ahead because they didn’t have the money in the budget to approve it.
“It’s pretty astounding that we don’t have a station,” he said.
“We have equipment in members’ sheds and we’re having to go out in the middle of night to get vehicles and equipment – it’s an unsatisfactory situation.
“Gidgegannup is the highest risk area for bush fires, so it’s a necessary service for ratepayers and it could be disastrous if we don’t get this sorted.”
Mr Brine said there were ways to make the build cheaper by utilising members who were builders, plumbers and electricians.
“We are desperate and we need to get this project started,” he said.
Gidgegannup resident Ken Kuehlmann watched his house burn to the ground in June after a fire started in his house.
He said a Bullsbrook brigade attended the scene first, 10 minutes after his house had already burnt down.
Mr Kuehlmann said he believed if the West Gidgegannup brigade had a dedicated station at the time, his house may have been saved.
“If they had a station in Gidgegannup they would have been there within 15 minutes,” he said.
“I called 000 five minutes after it started and it was burnt to the ground 10 minutes before the fire brigade arrived 37 minutes later.”
Mr Kuehlmann said every time he saw smoke he had memories of the fire and was concerned it was another fire on his property.
“If we had a fire station I would feel a lot safer,” he said.
“With the vast area they cover, you would think they would have already had a station.”