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Minister for Emergency Services and Resilience Steph Cooke joined NSW Rural Fire Service (RFS) Deputy Commissioner Kyle Stewart, Member for Clarence Chris Gulaptis and Clarence Valley Council Mayor Ian Tiley in Ulmarra last week to announce a significant investment for emergency services in the region. Image: Contributed

Local emergency services boosted by $8.9 million investment

Emma Pritchard

The NSW Government is investing close to $9 million for an emergency operations centre, co-located with a fire control centre to be built in the Clarence Valley.

Newly appointed Minister for Emergency Services and Resilience Steph Cooke was joined by NSW Rural Fire Service (RFS) Deputy Commissioner Kyle Stewart, Member for Clarence Chris Gulaptis and Clarence Valley Council Mayor Ian Tiley at the Clarence Valley Fire Control Centre in Ulmarra on February 2 for the announcement which is part of a $75.1 million state-wide investment.

As she spoke with local RFS volunteers, Ms Cooke said the NSW Government is committed to ensuring emergency services have the facilities, equipment and resources required to assist with their vital work in protecting local communities during emergencies and natural disasters.

Describing it as a wonderful and much-needed investment for the region, Ms Cooke said an independent inquiry following the devastating Black Summer bush fires of 2019-2020 identified 13 fire control and emergency operations centres in NSW which needed upgrading, and the Clarence Valley was on the list.

“It is fitting that the NSW Government accepted the recommendations of the independent inquiry, stepped up and delivered this investment for all of the volunteers and hard-working people in emergency services right across this region,” she said.

“The new facilities will be used by RFS as well as other emergency services agencies to oversee the response to a range of emergencies, including fires, floods and severe storms.”

RFS Deputy Commissioner Kyle Stewart said the improved facilities will enable more effective resource management, adding it is fantastic that dedicated members will have a purpose-built facility to better protect the people of the Clarence Valley.

Mayor Tiley welcomed the announcement and said Clarence Valley Regional Airport has been identified as a suitable site for the new facilities.

“Council will do whatever it takes to get these facilities up and running,” he said.

“This is about providing better infrastructure for the volunteers who keep us safe.

“The better armed they are with facilities, the safer this community is.”

Standing alongside RFS volunteers during the announcement last week, Mr Gulaptis said the investment will secure a more positive and strong future for the region.

“This is terrific for the Clarence Valley,” he said.

“It’s long overdue, there is a need for these facilities and it’s terrific the State Government is making this investment.”

The current location of the Clarence Valley Fire Control Centre and the future of the building was not disclosed last week.

During the announcement last week, Ms Cooke also took the opportunity to officially hand over the keys for a new $370000 Category 1 fire tanker to the Lawrence RFS Brigade to improve safety for firefighters.

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