Ballan CFA officer urges Fiskville reopening

Ballan CFA lieutenant Ian Ireland. Picture: Ballarat Courier

Ballan’s community is waiting with bated breath to hear what is to become of the Country Fire Authority’s training facility at Fiskville next week.

The final report of a state government inquiry, which was launched after the site’s closure in March last year because of contamination, was due to be tabled in State Parliament on May 16 but the date has been extended to next Tuesday, May 24.

In April, the state budget set aside $46.2 million to establish a new firefighting training centre in the Central Highlands and upgrade the training facility at Huntly in response to the closure of CFA Fiskville.

An additional $80.7 million will be invested over four years to decommission and remediate the Fiskville site and conduct environmental audits and upgrades at six other emergency training centres across regional Victoria.

Ballan fire brigade lieutenant Ian Ireland made submissions to the inquiry in support of reopening Fiskville following remedial works. He said he believed the government was searching for reasons to keep Fiskville closed.

“I’d like to see them channel the money into building a new pad for training and utilise the facilities at Fiskville,” he said.

“It would save the Victorian ratepayers a lot of money. The closest training facilities available to us are in Bendigo and Horsham. If we start taking our equipment out there to use that will diminish our fire service here.”

Local economy

Mr Ireland, who runs a business in Ballan, said returning the site to a usable condition was important for the town’s economy.

“The levels of contamination are not high enough to be harmful to humans,” he said. “There are still full-time workers out there including gardeners and people doing remedial work.

“We want the facility open so that it creates employment. We certainly need to create some jobs in our community.”

Moorabool council chief executive Rob Croxford said he was optimistic about the government’s plans for Fiskville.

“[Its retention] will assist the community and local businesses  …  and start to rebuild economic activity in Ballan.”