THE Yarck Rural Fire Brigade has been an integral part of the Yarck and surrounding community since 1939. Prior to this, it operated as a locally run brigade from the early 1900s.
Since its creation, it has been a consistent and effective fire fighting unit, providing expertise and resources to the control of bushfires and motor vehicles accidents in the region, as well as further afield when required. The brigade sometimes take the lead in emergency fire situations, or support other brigades, always with the aim of keeping the community safe.
Chairman Arthur Farn and Captain Marty Shaw, on behalf of the management team and the community as a whole, are pushing hard to get a new station front and centre in any future infrastructure spending by the Country Fire Authority (CFA).
The brigade is currently pursuing with the CFA and the government, the building of a new and modern fire station to replace the existing station. The current building is over 50 years old. It has had no upgrades and has been deemed not fit for purpose. It is hoped that a new station will take the brigade to the next level in providing emergency services and enhancing its capability.
It has already been acknowledged by senior management in CFA District 12 that the current fire station is not fit for purpose. Indeed, a property in Goodear Lane, Yarck, was purchased by the CFA many years ago for the purpose of building a new station. It is understood that the Yarck Brigade was once number one for this build, but it has been continually pushed back in the priority spending set by others.
In the current building, when the two Yarck tankers are parked side by side in the station, there is minimal space for members to move between the vehicles to access equipment, including portable radios and other essential items. The Field Command Vehicle is usually parked behind the station, not under cover, and was recently re-located to a local private residence after becoming bogged in the unmade side lane. The trailer and quick fill pump remain in the shed behind the station, unable to be moved (or used) due to the bog in that lane. The two water tanks supplying water to the kitchenette and the toilet, and providing a back up supply for the tankers, have nearly collapsed and require replacement. With both male and female members, there are no suitable separate areas set aside for changing or personal space. There is also no capacity to undertake onsite training. These are just some of the issues compounding a safe and healthy environment for the members.
It goes without saying that post COVID-19, the large increase in traffic volumes along the Maroondah Highway are making the movement of emergency vehicles in and out of the current station more dangerous for all travellers through the Yarck precinct.
The current Yarck Fire Station is situated at 6589 Maroondah Highway with Koala Country Cherries, a local bakery and the Yarck Community Hall as neighbours situated to the south. To the north, about 150 metres along, a service station is being developed, and a small shopping precinct resides in between.
There are days when the traffic congestion and parking can directly affect the ability to turn out to emergency events. This includes the ability of firefighters to find suitable parking in that area. At the moment this is being managed, but the time will shortly come when there may very well be an incident. There are many young children in the direct environs when travelling families stop for rest and refreshments at the bakery for example. The traffic situation is only going to increase as the finer weather arrives and to have an emergency facility in the midst of a high traffic area, both road and pedestrian, is not ideal. All of this is compounded when the Yarck Market is operating out of the Yarck Community Hall and nature strip on the third Saturday of each month, where traffic and parking can be bedlam. The same situation arises when the many functions at the community hall are scheduled.
There is also the matter of the brigade being trained and capable at dealing with small and large structure fires, particularly as they relate to the ever expanding Yarck Village and local industry, and the brigade is actively developing recruitment strategies to bring more locals into the fold to support this expected demand. This would require, for example, the brigade’s ability to house breathing apparatus and the infrastructure to support this equipment which it does not currently have. A residential fire in Yarck Village would require tankers from Alexandra or Yea to attend which are some 15 to 20 minutes away. A new station housing this equipment and having firefighters trained in structural fires would be a godsend to the local community.
All in all, the brigade is not operating in anywhere near a satisfactory environment for its members or the community at this point in time. The brigade is therefore pressing the government and CFA to urgently proceed with the funding and erection of a new station, and also any support from the community in promoting the need for such a new station in Yarck.
Representations have been made to Murrindindi Shire Council for support, and a letter of support to the CFA from the Chief Executive Officer Livia Bonazzi has been greatly appreciated. Welcome support for the station has also been provided by Member for Eildon Cindy McLeish, and Minister for Emergency Services Jaclyn Symes has been made aware of the Yarck brigade’s situation.
There will be an Open Day at the Yarck Fire Station on Saturday, October 15 from 10am to 1pm to promote recruitment and community participation in a local CFA brigade. All are welcome to come in and have a look at the station fire trucks close up and Yarck brigade members will be on hand to discuss any issues people may have.