THE Department of Fire and Emergency Services is hosing down tensions surrounding the location of its proposed $18m Bushfire Excellence Centre by calling for expressions of interest from local governments to host the facility.
The tender document specifies that the centre will be located on a minimum of 4ha in a South West regional town or the Perth metropolitan area where there is an existing rural-urban interface.
It must also be close to sites for prescribed burning training, accommodation providers and an airport.
WA Opposition emergency services spokesman Steve Thomas called on local governments in the South West and Great Southern to make a submission.
“It is critical that local governments in the region take part in the process because if the State Government is left to its own devices we may well see the Bushfire Centre of Excellence put into the metropolitan region” he said.
“The Labor Party signalled early its original intention to site the project in Darlington in the Shire of Mundaring in Perth, which would have been a massive snub to rural communities.”
Dr Thomas said that questions he had asked of the Minister in Parliament in June had revealed the State Government was still considering Darlington as an option for a co-located Rural Fire Division and Bushfire Centre of Excellence.
“The Minister has said both the Rural Fire Division and the Bushfire Centre of Excellence will be constructed on the same site, which makes sense to me” he said.
“However, I believe that both facilities should be located in the country, not in the metropolitan region.
Emergency Services Minister Fran Logan has stated publicly no decision had been made on the location of the centre.
The matter will be discussed at the Bushfire Mitigation Forum at the Kalamunda Performing Arts Complex on October 4.
The Rural Fire Division was a recommendation following a special inquiry into the January 2016 Waroona bushfire.
Submissions close October 24.