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Lack of facilities hinders Narrandera SES

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Narrandera Shire Council has approved $25,000 worth of works requested by the Narrandera SES at the Narrandera-Leeton Airport and included $50,000 improvements to amenities in Councils upcoming budget for 2024-25.

At the same time Council acknowledged the necessity to include further medium and long-term requirements at the facility in Council’s future long-term financial plan.

Narrandera Shire Council Deputy General Manager (Infrastructure) Shane Wilson said Council had a statutory obligation to provide the local SES with suitable facilities at no cost.

He said the hangar space at the airport was considered the most suitable and cost-effective solution for the near future and to ensure that volunteers had the ability to provide support to the community during emergency events.

In January 2024, the NSW SES wrote to Council to recommence discussion about opportunities for Council to provide a suitable facility for the use and storage of equipment for the Narrandera SES unit.

A potential short-to-medium-term option to use of the rear of the vacant hangar building at the airport was reviewed, inspected and found favourable to the group. Some works, estimated at around $25,000, needed to be undertaken prior to use.

During the 2022 floods there were discussions held with SES about the potential future needs for Narrandera units. These were never progressed as Council suggested that other options be explored before seeking a standalone facility.

Earlier this year Council received a letter requesting that discussions recommence and a subsequent meeting identified that the needs would have to be broken down to short, medium and long-term outcomes.

Funding of any major works will need to be entirely grant-funded, which is the case in nearly all new SES facilities across the State.

The only potential suitable building that Council currently had available was the rear of the vacant hangar at the airport – a space that is around 260m2 and accessible from the non-airside of the airport.

After an inspection the SES made a formal request to use this space as soon as some improvements were undertaken. These included:

  • An internal chain-link fence/wall at approximately the halfway point in the hangar with access from the southern entrance (non-air side of hangar).
  • Hardstand or asphalt laid at the entrance to the hangar to ensure all-weather access for members and vehicles.
  • LED lighting within the designated area for SES members to undertake operational readiness checks and training.
  • Power close to the current sink to allow for the SES to install a small kitchenette near this water source.
  • An outside tap to allow for members to wash vehicles.
  • Upgrade to the entrance door of the space to a roller door (motorised or chain), allowing a wider and higher access.
  • Installation of a portable shower and toilet block/ensuite for members to use when on site at the hangar.

These modifications (except for provision of toilet facilities) were considered to be achievable with an estimated cost of $25,000.

The SES long-term objective is to work together with the NSW SES and Narrandera Council to procure grants and funding for facility that costs an estimated $800,000-plus.

The idenntified amenities ($50,000) needed to be included within a future budget and could be required to be subject to grant funding.

Mr Wilson pointed out that the operational cost of the occupation of the building would be minimal as there was limited power or associated expenses anticipated and these could be covered under the current operational budgets.

The State Emergency Service Act 1989 – Section 17 requires that the Council of a local government area must, within three months of the appointment of a local commander for the area, provide(free of charge) suitable training facilities and storage and office accommodation to enable the local commander to exercise his or her functions. Any such facilities and accommodations were to be of a standard approved by the Commissioner.

Problems currently facing the Narrandera SES include that members are delayed in attending emergencies as their equipment is stored in Leeton as there is no local location for storage of quality vehicles or equipment..

Potential members were also reluctant to join as there were no suitable training facilities locally.

Narrandera Argus 29 February 2024

This article appeared in the Narrandera Argus, 29 February 2024.

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