The ACT Government has promised to build two new combined ACT Ambulance Service and ACT Fire and Rescue stations in the City and the Molonglo Valley in a pre-budget announcement on Thursday morning (30 May).
Thirty-six new firefighters, a new aerial appliance and two new emergency service stations have also been allocated to ACT Fire and Rescue in next week’s 2019-20 ACT Budget.
Emergency Services Minister Mick Gentleman said the locations of the new joint stations, which would cost about $1.8 million, were still to be determined but the land would soon be secured.
The ACT Government had engaged a global leader in emergency response planning to provide expert advice on the location of the new stations to help ensure emergency response times remained among the best in the country.
As well as $2.2 million for a new aerial platform appliance to replace the ageing Bronto, the budget has also allocated money for 36 new firefighters to replace retiring staff and maintain officer numbers.
ACT Fire and Rescue chief officer Mark Brown said the new recruits would bring the number of firefighters in the ACT to where it needed to be but admitted the force would need further recruitment drives in the coming years to help staff the two new stations.
“It is a great announcement for ACT Fire and Rescue,” he said. “We know we are currently short-staffed and we need to recruit more firefighters.
“In addition to the 25 firefighters who are entering our training program in June, we will have 36 additional firefighters trained in 2020 so that will boost our numbers to where they need to be.
“Obviously, there are a large number of firefighters who are nearing the end of their career and are retiring and we need to replace them urgently. However, we need to maintain our standards and recruit the right people and we are not going to shortcut our training program.”
Mr Gentleman said the recruitment drive would also aim to employ more women and Indigenous people.
“This is quite a significant investment in our emergency services for the ACT and this is in recognition of our growing population, that we have a safe city but we want to keep it that way,” he said.
Mr Gentleman said expert advice had established what resources and how many firefighters were needed to ensure the community’s safety.
“I take that evidence and argue hard in Cabinet for the money and I was successful. I have worked very hard with the Chief Officer of Fire and Rescue and we have provided.”