Open letter to the community

Dear Neighbour,

Stirling CFS Brigade has been providing fire and emergency services to this community for 65 years.  We have seen many changes in that time and enjoyed the support of the community throughout.

Newer members to our community may not know that CFS is a community based fire service.  That simply means it is people from the community providing a fire and emergency service to others in the community.  Stirling crew members are all highly trained volunteers from within this community.

Stirling CFS is among the busiest Brigades in the State responding to over 300 emergencies annually.   We are trained and equipped to respond to structure fires, bush fires, road crash rescues and vehicle fires, hazardous material spills, storm damage, general rescues and various other emergencies. We provide a fire and emergency service to residents, businesses, public buildings and community assets throughout the Stirling district and the Adelaide Hills as well as to the thousands of commuters passing through our area daily.

We now find ourselves confronted with a problem that we cannot solve alone and we apologise for the need to ask for help from the rest of our community.

The Stirling Fire Station has never been an outstanding building but it has been functional.  In the years that Stirling District Council, followed by Adelaide Hills Council, were responsible for providing resources to Brigades in its area, Council did its best to provide a reasonable standard fire station. Since the State Government assumed responsibility for funding CFS Brigades in 1999 the condition of the Station has continued to deteriorate through total lack of maintenance.

A few years ago CFS Headquarters recognised the need to replace or repair the Station, not only because of its age and poor condition but also because of the high volume of asbestos used in its construction.  Some in CFS Management preferred to relocate the Brigade to a new site and build a new fire station.  However the firefighters at Stirling strongly believed that to move to any of the proposed new locations would have greatly reduced the Brigade’s ability to rapidly respond to life threatening emergencies in the district, particularly major structural fires in the hospital, retirement villages, shopping centres, service stations, schools and the like.

Computer modelling confirmed that belief and made clear the benefits of remaining at the current location in Avenue Road, Stirling.  That situation has not changed.

The former CFS Chief Officer supported the Brigade’s objective of ensuring optimum service to the community which includes fast response times to emergencies.  He decided to purchase the current fire station site from Adelaide Hills Council.  However in doing so, most of the money budgeted to provide a new fire station was consumed by the land purchase.

Having committed to rid the Brigade of the asbestos problem and provide an engine bay of sufficient size to enable us to take delivery of a new and larger size fire truck, CFS Headquarters staff  proceeded with plans to rebuild the engine bay. The initial plan did not include any improvement to the 70-year-old former Council Works Depot offices used for Brigade communications and training.  However because the asbestos roof  extended over the training and store rooms as well as the engine bay, a remodelled training room was included in the scope of work.

Tenders for the work were recently called. Quotes received are significantly higher than the amount of money CFS has in its budget for the Stirling Station re-build.

We have now been advised that the project has been abandoned and that CFS staff are again proposing that the current land be sold and the proceeds used to build a new station on a yet to be determined site somewhere in the district. We know the district well and we are unable to identify suitable land within a 1 kilometre radius of the present site.

The effect of this news on the morale of Stirling firefighters is devastating.  While we can understand that CFS has been given an insufficient budget by State Government we cannot accept that one of the State’s busiest volunteer fire brigade’s located in one of the State’s highest fire risk areas should be dismissed so readily.  The Brigade’s volunteer firefighters contribute hundreds of hours each year to train, maintain equipment and provide a professional response to emergencies.  To be denied, not for the first time, a more suitable premises from which to operate is totally unacceptable.

We need $180,000 to contribute to the rebuilding of a new engine bay and training room at the current site of Stirling CFS Brigade and we are asking that you consider making a contribution to enable this to happen.

You will naturally challenge the appropriateness of this appeal.  We know that you pay an Emergency Services Levy, as do we.  And you would rightly expect that it is the role of Government to build fire stations, especially when CFS volunteers receive no payment for their service.  For these and similar reasons we hesitate to ask for help but the fact is that unless we can raise the $180,000 within the month it will be years before Stirling is back on the list of CFS projects and meanwhile our firefighters will continue to work out of a building which is inadequate and unsafe.

Please be assured that despite our problems, Stirling CFS firefighters will continue to provide a highly professional service to you and our other community neighbours at all times. The ethos of volunteer firefighters would not have it any other way.

Should you wish to discuss our need in more detail please contact me or one of these officers;

Vince Monterola AM AFSM, Building Project Manager, phone 0447 331 300
Tom Fairbrother, Management Committee President, phone 0400 570 058

If you are able to assist us financially we will welcome your tax-deductible donation. An outline of how to donate to us can be found here.

Yours Sincerely,

Brendan McEvoy
Brigade Captain, Phone 0438 560 039
Brigade email: