By Violet Li
Communities have been disappointed by a failure to build a new fire station in Clyde North within the original estimated timeframes.
They’re now calling for the rapid start of construction.
Fire Rescue Victoria (FRV) announced the site for Clyde North’s fire station nearly three years ago, which would be situated on the corner of Matterhorn Drive and Thompson Road.
The station was proposed to cater to the growing community that needed a full suite of emergency services.
Star News reported on 7 April 2021 that State Government representatives attended the unveiling ceremony of the chosen parcel of land, including Fire Rescue Commissioner Ken Block, Parliamentary Secretary for Police, Emergency Services MP Paul Edbrooke, Bass MP Jordan Crugnale, and Cranbourne MP Pauline Richards.
FRV estimated that work was expected to begin in late 2021 and finish in mid to late 2023.
Three years later, the construction has not commenced with the land sitting empty.
United Firefighters Union delegate for Cranbourne Fire Station Sam Watterson said the failure to deliver the promised fire station posed operational difficulties to Cranbourne Fire Station, the nearest fire emergency service to the area.
“It took a long time for Cranbourne firefighters to respond to incidents in Clyde North. In traffic, there can be a 15-minute drive, sometimes longer, up to 20 minutes,” he said.
“Our standards are to be on scene within 7.7 minutes. The local volunteer brigades frequently fail to respond. It’s not their fault.
“Additionally, it takes resources out of Cranbourne, that are there to protect the Cranbourne and surrounding areas, so it is really difficult.”
Mr Watterson said emergency infrastructure had to keep up with the growing rate of the Clyde North.
“It is one of the fastest growing areas in Australia, so it’s just as deserving of having an adequate fire service as any other area,” he said.
“People move to these areas, pay a high price for a new house, and they expect infrastructure to be in place to protect their investment and families.
“Ambulances have responded to that growth, and they’ve put in a station.”
A new ambulance has just opened in Clyde North after two years of planning and constructing.
No explanation was given to the community as to why that fire station hadn’t proceeded, Mr Watterson said.
“They [FRV] need to come here and explain to the community why that fire station hasn’t been delivered,” he said.
“I’m not sure what the reason is, but I would say that it’s likely a financial reason. I’ve noticed they’ve been busily building SES stations around Cranbourne and Clyde.
“There’s a great lack of investment in the FRV at the moment, and you would have seen several news posts about our fleet crisis with vehicles that are not fit for purpose and constantly breaking down.”
Berwick MP Brad Battin said the people of Clyde North were again misled by Labor at election time to win votes, but the delivery to make the Clyde North community safer vanished.
“There is a pattern when it comes to the treatment of the Clyde North community, this time it is a fire station that was promised and all the local Labor MPs had their smiling photos taken, but now they all duck for cover and are silent when it comes to explaining why they have failed to deliver,” he said.
“Since 2018 the same can be said about the Clyde North Police station, another broken promise that was ‘confirmed’ would be ready in 2022 and all we have is a vacant block of land.”
A spokesperson for FRV said planning for the Clyde North Fire Station was well underway.
“After extensive stakeholder engagement the design has been signed off, with the City of Casey issuing a planning permit for the site,” they said.
“In the meantime, FRV continues to work closely with CFA to ensure the local community is provided with a high level of service.
“FRV will communicate a timeline for construction once it is established.”
FRV expects the 2022-23 Annual Report to be tabled on the next available sitting day 8 February.
FRV was unable to table the Annual Report in 2023 due to a delay in the Victorian Auditor-General’s Office (VAGO) completing the audit of our financial statements.
A State Government spokesperson said the government was ensuring that Victoria’s fire services had modern, safe, and fit-for-purpose facilities to support firefighters as they worked to keep the community safe.
“Fire Rescue Victoria is continuing to progress designs for a new career fire station for Clyde North,” they said.