Fire alarm sounds

Member for Mount Gambier Troy Bell has taken the issue of the city’s ageing Metropolitan Fire Service firefighting fleet to state parliament.

Mr Bell last week asked Emergency Services Minister Vincent Tarzia why Mount Gambier had not received a new firefighting appliance, despite 12 new state-of-the-art appliances being rolled out across the 
state.

Mount Gambier will instead receive a second-hand truck from a metropolitan station as its frontline vehicle.

Minister Tarzia said the deployment of appliances throughout the MFS was an operational decision.

“There are a number of other appliances – another eight, in fact – and they are all on track to be delivered by March 2022,” Mr Tarzia told parliament.

Mr Tarzia added the state government’s investment in the MFS, said to be $70m since 2018, was designed to reduce the age of firefighting appliances across the entire state, with all stations to benefit from the new appliances entering the system as the MFS continually rotates its fleet.

“Our government continues to invest record amounts in this space, but, of course, I do appreciate and acknowledge the Member for Mount Gambier coming into the house and raising this on behalf of his constituents,” Mr Tarzia said.

“What I can advise in terms of the MFS and Mount Gambier is they have had a capability boost – in fact, they had one recently, with a new combination aerial pumping appliance, in 2016 – and they will soon be bolstered further by what will be a newly refurbished 3000-litre pumper.

“With that pumper, I am advised that delivery is anticipated before the upcoming bushfire danger season.”

The Minister’s comments were made last week in response to the Member for Mount Gambier’s question in the South Australian parliament.

Mr Bell said he was disappointed by Minister Tarzia’s response and believed the Minister needed to handle the problem.

“I’m very disappointed,” Mr Bell told The SE Voice.

“The Minister clearly does not see the importance of new equipment coming to the state’s second-largest city.”

According to the MFS’ 2019/20 annual report, the Mount Gambier MFS station responded to 459 callouts.

By comparison, stations that are receiving brand new appliances responded to fewer callouts and are based in or near metropolitan Adelaide.

“The complicating factor with this one is we’re actually four hours away from the nearest MFS assistance,” Mr Bell said.

“And we have got Seaford and Mount Barker that are adequately supported by other MFS within the vicinity.

“I expected a more comprehensive answer.

“It was a lot of words, but no meaning in that response.”

Mr Bell added that representatives from the MFS had, in confidence, relayed their concerns.

“I meet regularly with representatives from the MFS both in a professional and personal capacity and they’re relaying some of the difficulties they are having with secondhand equipment and the continual maintenance required,” he said.

“The concern they have is that we are the state’s second largest city and we actually need to be resourced to that level.”

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