Chris Way, Bob Hennessy, Demetri Condos, Nikki Vidler, Captain Dale Waters, Diane Fellows and Superintendent Michael Brett, manager Northern Rivers Rural Fire Service.
Chris Way, Bob Hennessy, Demetri Condos, Nikki Vidler, Captain Dale Waters, Diane Fellows and Superintendent Michael Brett, manager Northern Rivers Rural Fire Service. Mireille Merlet-Shaw

High-tech fire centre open

HAILED as the most-modern and well-equipped rural fire facility in the state, the new Northern Rivers Zone Fire Control Centre Complex at Casino is officially operational.

The $3.7 million centre has 18 vehicle bays, workshop facilities, training rooms and equipment and will service the entire Northern Rivers region.

"This is the latest, greatest piece of fixed infrastructure the Rural Fire Service has established across NSW," Commissioner Shane Fitzsimmons said during the centre's grand opening on Saturday.

"You've got so much more than a building here. You've got the equipment, the amenity but also the focal point for the Northern Rivers zone."

Due to its centrality and capabilities, the facility will also be used by police, SES and other emergency services when needed.

Commissioner Fitzsimmons said the centre was built near the old Casino airport so aircraft could increasingly be incorporated into emergency operations.

"There's resources here dedicated to supplying and supporting aircraft, whether it's refuelling or putting the retardants and foams pre-mixed into the machines so that they can operate and co-ordinate from here."

Commissioner Fitzsimmons expected the complex to become an epicentre where intelligence from the field is gathered and converted into critical public information for the community.

Since 2008 Superintendent Michael Brett has led the charge to make the new complex a reality and he said gaining funding for the project was one of the biggest challenges.

"Everyone around the state is wanting to build something similar," he said.

"It took a fair bit of negotiating... but I think it has paid off in the end."

The centre was a collaborative project between the Rural Fire Service, NSW Government, Kyogle Valley Council, Richmond Valley Council and Lismore City Council.

More than 100 people attended the facility's opening on Saturday, including Richmond Valley Mayor Col Sullivan, Member for Clarence Chris Gulaptis, Member for Lismore Thomas George and Member for Page Janelle Saffin.



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