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L-R Minister for Regional Transport and Roads Paul Toole, RFS District Manager Clarence Valley – Superintendent Stuart Watts (behind car), Gulmarrad Bush Fire Service mascot, Member for Clarence Chris Gulaptis and Gulmarrad RFS Brigade Deputy Captain, Peter Watt. Image: Lynne Mowbray

Pacific Highway upgrade gives back to NSW RFS

The country’s largest regional road project is helping local Rural Fire Service brigades save money to spend on essential firefighting equipment by donating items from decommissioned work site compounds on the Woolgoolga to Ballina Pacific Highway upgrade.

Minister for Regional Transport and Roads Paul Toole said items like tables, gazebos, bollards and whiteboards would make a much-needed difference to local fire volunteers after the challenging bush fire season of 2019-20.

“The Pacific Highway upgrade is on track to be open later this year, and part of this process involves demobilising site compounds used while building the final link in the dual carriageway between Hexham and the Queensland border,” Mr Toole said.

“We have chosen to donate items to the NSW Rural Fire Service as a small gesture of our appreciation for their service, particularly during the horror summer for so many communities right up and down the east coast.

“We’ve saved the local RFS crews about $10,000 by donating them 17 whiteboards, 80 chairs, four TVs/stands, one desk, one table and four picnic tables, six storage cabinets, 30 bollards, and a number of eskys, gazebos and bins.

“Beyond aiding firefighting efforts and training, we hope these items will help create a comfortable space for volunteers and allow allocated funding to go that little bit further where it is needed most.”

Member for Clarence Chris Gulaptis said the first batch of items was offered to the Clarence Valley Fire Control Centre and has since been shared among the local stations of Pillar Valley, Halfway Creek, Gulmarrad, Ashby, Tucabia and Mt Ramornie.

“The team on the Woolgoolga to Ballina project came up with the idea to donate the items in early June, and the next batch will be delivered to the Northern Rivers branch later in the year once more site compounds have been demobilized,” Mr Gulaptis said.

“I know what a huge role the RFS crews play in the local community, and I am so pleased to see these items distributed to smaller rural stations that may not receive as much support as the bigger towns.

“These stations sit close to the new highway and have a long history of working with Transport for NSW and its contractors on the upgrade.

“Rural Fire Service volunteers kept our workers safe during the 2019-2020 bushfires and we are pleased to be able to give something back in this small way.”

Superintendent Watt said that it is a great initiative by Transport NSW and Minister for Regional Transport and Roads Paul Toole, donating to the Rural Fire Brigades the furniture from decommissioned work sites along the new extension of the M1.

“This sort of equipment is invaluable for our brigades, particularly our remote brigades that don’t have much opportunity for fund raising.

“So, the goods such as white boards, TVs, chairs and lockers is all good stuff for our brigades that they can store their equipment and they can be trained better and therefore building better capacity.

“Gulmarrad Brigade was only one of around 14 brigades in the Clarence Valley to receive this equipment,” he said.

NSW Rural Fire Service Gulmarrad Brigade Deputy Captain Peter Watt said the contributions would make a big difference for the volunteer brigades in the district.

“These donations from Transport for NSW help the Rural Fire Service in two ways, by providing some creature comforts to our member volunteers while also helping us save money that can be spent on essential equipment,” Mr Watt said.

“It’s also a great outcome when we work together to reduce waste, with these useful items getting reused instead of being chucked out,” he said.

 

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