$3m for new SES facility

By Michael Roberts | posted on January 14, 2021

ALBANY’s State Emergency Service will relocate to a state-of-the-art headquarters out on Mercer Road after the State Government announced on Tuesday it would inject up to $3 million towards the project.

The new facility, which is expected to be finished by the middle of next year, can be used as a Level 3 Incident Control Centre to help with large-scale emergencies such as bushfires.

Albany SES currently operates out of a circa 1980s building on Sanford Road that was described as well past its use-by-date.

Emergency Services Minister Fran Logan said the funding was part of the WA Government’s Great Southern COVID-19 economic recovery package.

Mr Logan said the relocation was long overdue, with the Sanford Road building no longer fit-for-purpose.

“Albany SES Unit provides an invaluable service to the local community and broader region with the unit responding to 20 incidents last year including severe storms and land searches,” he said.

“A new, state-of-the-art headquarters will give volunteers the capacity and resources they need to better serve this growing region and conduct co-ordinated operations with other local emergency services.”

The Mercer Road facility will include a big response building, separate administration building, indoor and outdoor training areas and a six-vehicle bay garage that can house the region’s Incident Control Vehicle.

Local emergency services are hoping the flash digs and a fresh start will help reverse a declining number of volunteers.

Albany SES representative Robert Boyes said his unit was about 25 people short of where they would like to be.

“We are currently running at 57, and ideally with the demographics of Albany, we really should have 80-plus,” he said.

“Currently we’ve got four people who can respond during working ours – I’d like a lot more than that. Anybody out there who is a retired farmer who’s got a few skills, just come and see us.”

Mr Boyes said Albany SES had been trying to find a new home for years.

“I’ve been on the building committee for five years, we’ve had a few false starts, we’ve had land allocated to us that was unsuitable,” he said.

“The current site, although it’s not perfect, is pretty good, and it’s as good as we are going to get, although we would like a slight shift closer to Mercer Road, so we are more visible.

“Recruitment is easier if people drive past all the time and see us.”