Karuah Rural Fire Brigade's long wait for new quarters is close to an end after the NSW Government announced it would fund the build of an all new station worth $1.1 million.
Port Stephens duty MLC Catherine Cusack and the electorate's Liberal candidate, Jaimie Abbott, made the funding announcement in Karuah on Wednesday, February 20.
“Volunteers in the Karuah brigade have been waiting a long time for this and I am so glad that we, as a government, are in such a strong budget position to be able to deliver important projects like this,” Ms Cusack said.
The news comes after Karuah RFS publicly called on the government in July 2016 to do something about the brigade's sub-standard station.
While Karuah's station was listed for "priority replacement" at the time, there was no relief in sight until possibly 2020.
Improvements were made to the ailing RFS station later in 2016.
EARLIER STORY: Brigades call for fund help
In 2018, Port Stephens Council asked residents to vote for a new site for the station.
The online poll attracted 102 submissions, with 73.5 per cent of respondents opting for the Engel Avenue site over Lionel Morten Oval.
Reuse of the existing site in Wattle Street was considered but, after community consultation, the Engel Avenue site, owned by Port Stephens Council, was selected.
A development application for the new station in Engel Avenue has been approved and a design process is underway.
Construction work is expected to begin in late August and will be overseen by Port Stephens Council.
"It's really exciting news for the brigade and the community," Karuah RFS captain Ken Smee said.
"We've been waiting a long long time for this. We're really looking forward to when the construction starts and we can move into our new station."
Ms Abbott said Karuah RFS volunteers do "incredibly vital work" in providing important services and "protecting her community".
“This is great news for Karuah Rural Fire Service volunteers who have been operating out of an ageing building that has some structural issues," she said.
“From the bottom of my heart, I want to thank all our incredible volunteers for the work they do in protecting our community. The best way we can do this is to provide the infrastructure they deserve."
NSW RFS Commissioner Shane Fitzsimmons said the new station would be a valuable asset for volunteers who give up their time to serve the community.
“This new station will allow the Karuah Brigade to expand their operational capabilities and can also be used as a staging area during times of emergency should the need arise,” he said.
“The brigade has been serving the local area for more than half a century and we’re confident that the new building will meet the brigade and the community’s needs well into the future.”
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