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Ready for action | The West Australian

WA’s top firefighter says Kalgoorlie-Boulder’s new $1.8 million State Emergency Service headquarters will make the city one of the best equipped in the State to deal with major incidents.

The $1.8 million regional co-ordination centre in Boulder’s Forrest Street was officially opened on Saturday by Emergency Services Minister Fran Logan after six long years in planning.

Department of Fire and Emergency Services commissionerDarren Klemm said Kalgoorlie’s emergency response infrastructure was now “state of the art”.

“What today’s facility has done is really place Kalgoorlie in a fantastic position in terms of its response capability in an operational sense,” he said.

“We’ve got almost a brand new volunteer fire and rescue station and career fire and rescue station and now that’s topped off by a brand new State Emergency Service facility here.” SES volunteers work with police and fire crews to respond to storm damage and floods, and conduct search and rescue operations.

The Kalgoorlie-Boulder unit has 27 members aged 16-70, according to manager Felix van Gelderen, covering 500,000sqkm of the vast Goldfields outback.

Alongside major events such as the 2010 Boulder earthquake and 2017 Kalgoorlie storm, they have been called out to emergencies as far away as Warburton, 1000km to the north. Mr Klemm said the fresh-faced facility would be able to accommodate and attract more volunteers than the SES’ old Hamilton Street base, around the corner from the new site at the former Boulder Shire depot.

DFES Goldfields-Midland superintendent Antony Sadler said a new operations centre in the SES office, which would be used by police, DFES, local government and SES volunteers as a central hub to manage emergencies, would be “critical”.

“For a long time now, the Goldfields has needed a facility that will be used by all agencies to manage major incidents,” he said.

“This facility will allow that to happen, so a co-ordinated response will be more beneficial and quicker through the multi-agencies than it will be simply operating out of our own areas.”

It is set to get its first run in a major training exercise next month when agencies come tog-ether to respond to a simulation of an Indian Pacific train derailment. “Hopefully that doesn’t happen but if it does, we need to be ready as a community,” Mr Sadler said.

The opening came just over six years since City of Kalgoorlie-Boulder councillors first voted to request funding for the facility.

A $1.4 million tender was pulled in 2015 after a dispute with the State Government over funding for start-up costs on the project.

The council eventually funded minor site works to the tune of $300,000 to get construction off the ground, paving the way for volunteers to move into their new home last October.

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