Construction starts on $3 million building for Glen Innes, inverell and Tenterfield

Operations officer Scott Keelan at the desk he'll be leaving.
Operations officer Scott Keelan at the desk he'll be leaving.

The construction of a new fire-control centre for the Northern Tablelands has begun. Building work on a converted electrical goods show-room on Lambeth Street in Glen Innes is well underway, with this new nerve-centre for the RFS across the region expected to be open in two months.

At the moment, the control room for the RFS in the area is in the old shire council building in Glen Innes but it’s a warren of rooms designed for another purpose and another age. Where the cramped existing centre has paper maps and wall charts, the new one will have the latest screen technology.

On the complex with the new control centre will also be a fire station, bringing together different parts of the service on one site – the control room will be used to control fire operations across a wide area, including Tenterfield, Inverell as well as Glen Innes. The fire station will be to fight fires, usually locally.

The total cost is between $2.5 and $3 million, most of it coming from state funds.

A tour of the new control centre

Dignitaries, including Adam Marshall, the Northern Tablelands MP, Mayor Steve Toms and Deputy Mayor Carol Sparks inspected the site.

Superintendent Chris Wallbridge told them the new facilities were needed because “currently we are physically constrained”. He thought the bigger space meant more firefighters could be drafted in. He said earlier that the existing premises were too small to serve the 45 brigades and the 1450 volunteers plus full-time staff.

There will be a bank of big screens and computers to monitor the movement of people, machinery and fire.

Superintendent Chris Wallbridge.

Superintendent Chris Wallbridge.

Northern Tablelands MP, Adam Marshall, said: “ What I think the most impressive aspect is not just the extra space and the extra staff but the technological aspects allowing high-tech fire-fighting.

“It is the highest tech fire fighting unit we have anywhere in New England NW. They’be able to monitor fires in real time. It’ll mean we’’ll get more accurate information out in a timely manner which will dramatically assist with fire fighting operations on the ground.”

It shouldn’t make response times faster – they’re already fast – but it should make operating easier for full-time staff coping in fraught situations.

“It’s going to be a better place for us to work out of,” Operations Officer, Scott Keelan said last year in his old office on Bourke Street.

Commander Chris Wallbridge said the existing premises were too small to serve the 45 brigades and the 1450 volunteers plus full-time staff.

This story New RFS headquarters launched | Video guide plus Gallery first appeared on Glen Innes Examiner.