A shroud of secrecy has been...
Council finally settles on site for new $8m RFS centre after two years
Four months after being taken to task by rural firefighters for inaction over a critically important new Rural Firefighting service headquarters; the Hawkesbury City Council has finally identified a site for the $8 million facility .
The HCC has reverted to a plan to co-locate the RFS Fire Control Centre with the regional headquarters of the Special Emergency Services together at 6 McKinnons Road, Wilberforce. The site will be put forward to councillors at tomorrow night’s (Feb 13) HCC meeting for confirmation.
“As the land is privately owned, an acquisition process will be required to be followed. Council Officers have undertaken initial discussions with the owners of the land and, subject to Council resolving to endorse this site, will formally commence the acquisition process,” HCC said in the Feb 2024 Council Papers.
The funding for the facility, critical to the region due to the high frequency of bushfires, was first promised in 2021 and the $8 million in funding officially announced in June 2022.
After a major false start – when a “groundbreaking” ceremony was held at 295 Sackville Road, Wilberforce. But the Centre was put on hold then deemed unsuitable and as HCC then dithered in finding a new site.
In November last year, 32 angry fire chiefs wrote an open letter to HCC and Mayor Sarah McMahon.
“At a recent Captains’ briefing provided by Hawkesbury FCO Superintendent Karen Hodges, we were shocked to learn that there has been no progress in the building of an urgently needed replacement District Fire Control Centre; a project announced in 2021 and scheduled for completion in 2024, and backed by $8 million of funding from the NSW RFS,” East Kurrajong Volunteer Bush Fire Brigade Captain Ian Luck said in a note to the Hawkesbury Post that contained the letter.
In response to the letter, Hawkesbury City Council (HCC) issued an aggressive media release that, in part, blamed the Hawkesbury Rural Fire Service – along with state and federal governments – for the lack of suitable site for the Centre. Still, the HCC and Cr McMahon have both recommitted to finding a suitable site at a Dec 5 meeting.