There is no better time that “Right Now” to implement State Government changes that can help put the “Rural” back into the “Rural Fire Service”.
Relocation of the Rural Fire Service Head Office was always inevitable and now that the public has been informed of the pending relocation, perhaps it is timely to look at decentralisation.
RFS may soon be Homeless
In a Channel Seven news report, the need for the RFS to relocate was broadcast in a way that suggested the costs could become a burden for taxpayers but there are many other reports that suggest a move to a Regional area might be just what is required to return the focus to rural communities.
NSW Government decentralisation policy
In the NSW Decentralisation Taskforce Report, dated April 2013, the NSW Government made the following statements:
Government agency relocations
- The NSW Government should plan and implement a clear strategy to relocate appropriate public sector functions and jobs to regional NSW to stimulate regional economic development and support regional involvement in decision-making.
- The NSW Government should underpin the relocation of government business units and functions with strong business cases that match community needs and prospects for growth with regional servicing capacity and government functions. This will improve the prospects and sustainability of these relocations.
- The NSW Government should consider not only whole agency relocations but partial agency and co-location of services and discrete core business functions that demonstrate a natural fit with the communities in regional locations.
- State Owned Corporations, functions and jobs are also potential candidates for relocation to regional NSW and the Government should include these entities in its broader policy considerations on decentralisation.
- NSW Government decentralisation policy
- NSW Decentralisation Taskforce Report April 2013
- RFS may soon be homeless – 7 News
Congratulations to our New Minister
It was pleasing to hear the NSW Emergency Services Minister, Mr David Elliott MP state the simple facts when asked by Seven News about the need to relocate the RFS.
The Benefits of Relocation to a Regional Centre
There are as number of major NSW regional centres that have expressed an interest in the idea of moving the RFS Head Office to their region.
Decentralisation has many benefits including:
- The opportunity to design and build a new Head Office with more room for parking, storage of plant and equipment, training centre and other developments into the future.
- Moving the Head Office away from the problems associated with traffic and general city based congestion.
- Generally cheaper land and property acquisition rates.
- Moving Head Office closer to rural NSW.
- More central location. The Central West Region (see map below) is more centrally located than the Greater Sydney Region.
- Jobs for regional NSW.
- Increased business opportunities for the region or local community selected.
Please see email that I sent to the mayor of Lithgow. The land in question is owned by Energy Australia; they might be approachable as a corporate citizen willing to sell land at a reasonable price. Dismantling of the site is under way.
RFS HQ Opportunity
Peter Drinkall 15/05/2015
To: Clr.Statham@lithgow.nsw.gov.au Cc: Clr.email@example.com
A recent news item announced the impending forced relocation of the headquarters of the Rural Fire Service of NSW (RFS) from Rosehill to a new location. The news item went on to cover Dubbo council’s efforts at lobbying the RFS to consider its city as a suitable location for the service’s new headquarters.
It seemed to me that the RFS should be able to find several locations more suitable than Dubbo, as the areas more prone to bushfire certainly include the Blue Mountains, the outer areas of Sydney and the Hunter region.
Lithgow has many attributes as a site for the new RFS HQ – foremost is the site of the Wallerawang Power Station at Lidsdale, which is in the process of being dismantled.
The site is/has:
Immediate access to the Castlereagh Highway, the Great Western Highway and Bells Line of Road – latter two giving alternatives access routes into the Blue Mountains, access to the Hunter Region via the Bylong Valley and to the Southern highlands via Oberon;
Two hours driving time and, on average, say, three hours rail time to Sydney;
Rail access between Lithgow and Sydney for passengers (i.e., crews from interstate) and freight;
Rail access into the site itself;
One hour driving time to Bathurst airport;
Several buildings which could have potential for interim or permanent use by the RFS;
An abundance of level land for training exercises, vehicle garaging and helicopter hangers and helipads;
Proximity to Capertee Valley and Mudgee helicopter services;
Plentiful water supply, at Lake Wallace, which can be augmented from Lake Lyell and the Fish River;
During the October 2013 bushfires in the Lithgow and Blue Mountains regions, several helicopters and their fuel and water tenders were temporarily based at Wallerawang Oval, with the larger helicopter replenishing its water drops from Lake Wallace;
Adjacent to a service station, automotive and auto-electrical workshop at Lidsdale;
Serviced by specialist pump, welding and other industries in Wallerawang and Lithgow currently supporting mining activities;
Adjacent to restaurant, conference, motel and cabin facilities at Black Gold Country Cabins and hotel accommodation at Wallerawang;
Proximity to a range of services at Wallerawang and Lithgow, a mere ten minutes away;
Proximity to numerous RFS brigades which would facilitate training and possibly allow amalgamation of several local brigades in the immediate vicinity of Lidsdale.
With the Lithgow area workforce impacted by the downturn in the mining industry, the area sorely needs to boost and diversify the job opportunities available locally.
If the Lithgow City Council has not already taken action on this I strongly recommend that it do so and perhaps form a working group to pursue this opportunity.
0420 354 020