Fire fight erupts

Member for Mount Gambier Troy Bell will ask Parliament why Mount Gambier is missing out on vital firefighting equipment, backing a push from local councillors for new firetrucks.

At Mount Gambier City Council’s elected members meeting, a councillor aired ongoing concerns by firefighters at Mount Gambier’s MFS station.

The firefighters and Councillor Paul Jenner believe the city is being ignored and say the station’s trucks are out of date.

The Mount Gambier station’s main two trucks are each 22 years old, which is seven years too old according to the MFS’ own policy for replacement or refurbishment, according to Cr Jenner,

His concerns come as the station is understood to be expecting a replacement vehicle as its main appliance, a Volvo pumper that he claims has been “riddled with issues” is understood to be in Adelaide being repaired but expected to not return to Mount Gambier’s MFS station and will go to another station in South Australia.

A replacement vehicle was sent to the station in place of the Volvo, but this vehicle has since been decommissioned due to a pump “blowing up”, Cr Jenner told council and The SE Voice.

It will be replaced by a 3000-litre second-hand appliance from an Adelaide station, which Cr Jenner believes would be acceptable as a second truck.

But Cr Jenner is pushing for Mount Gambier to receive at least one of the 12 new heavy urban pump rescue appliances that were announced by the Emergency Services Minister Vincent Tarzia in July.

At the time of that July announcement, it was revealed that Mount Barker, a station that responded to 305 callouts in 2019/20 (compared to Mount Gambier’s 459), was among the first stations in SA to receive one of these new appliances.

“We need new equipment, we need good quality equipment that does not breakdown,” Cr Jenner said.

“I represent the people of Mount Gambier and that’s why I raise the issue.”

He now has the backing of council which has written to Mr Bell, Premier Steven Marshall, Clare Scriven MLC, Labor Party leader Peter Malinauskas and the United Fire Fighters Union of South Australia.

The council has also invited Minister Tarzia and Premier Marshall to Mount Gambier to “urgently provide a solution to this problem”.

“The issue raised has caused significant concern for our councillors, who wish to be confident that our MFS is appropriately equipped to support and defend our community in times of crisis,” Mayor Lynette Martin said in the letter.

But the state government will also have questions to answer from Mr Bell who plans to table the issue in Parliament this week.

Minister Tarzia has clarified the allocation of any of the 12 new heavy urban appliances was a decision for the MFS.

“The Marshall Liberal Government has injected almost $70m of additional funding into the MFS since 2018, significantly strengthening the appliance fleet and firefighter safety,” Minister Tarzia said.

“MFS Mount Gambier had a capability boost with a new combination aerial pumping appliance in 2016 and will soon be bolstered further by a newly refurbished 3000-litre pumper.

“The new pumper will be the main firefighting appliance at MFS Mount Gambier and will be supported by an aerial pumper, regional operation support appliance and an additional contingency pumper.”

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