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Wiluna dire fire risk needs solution from Minister

For more information, contact Vince Catania (Member for North West Central).

Member for North West Central Vince Catania is calling on the State Government to fund a new firefighting appliance for Wiluna after visiting the northern Goldfields town and meeting its chief volunteer firefighter last week.

Mr Catania said numerous requests for a new appliance to increase structural firefighting and road crash response capacity from Wiluna Town Bush Fire Brigade had gone unanswered by the Department of Fire and Emergency Services.

“The lack of action from the Minister and his Department means the people of Wiluna and its volunteer firefighters are facing a potentially deadly crisis,” he said.

“Despite DFES identifying Wiluna as a high risk fire area, repeated attempts to improve firefighting resources for the town have been ignored.”

Mr Catania said local fire brigade captain Wade Bloffwitch, who also operates the town’s ambulance service, had built up the town’s volunteer base from almost non-existent to 24 members.

But the brigade’s 1.4 Rural appliance is inferior when it comes to responding to defensive structural firefighting or road rescue call outs, the latter becoming a rising risk since townsfolk are traveling regularly out of town to obtain alcohol.

“The local brigade has responded to 34 fires in the last two years and in 2016 was instrumental in extinguishing a blaze that could have been catastrophic for the local hospital,” he said.

“I’m calling on the Minister to immediately fund a 3.4 Urban tanker, which would include breathing apparatus and more than double the tanked water supply of what is currently available.”

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Vince Catania and Wade Bloffwitch at Parliament last week.

Mr Bloffwitch, who travelled to Parliament to inform Mr Catania of the current risk, said a simple appliance upgrade would vastly improve emergency response capacity.

“We have bad water pressure in our water mains and hydrants only cover a small portion of the town, so having a mobile firefighting appliance is crucial,” he said.

“And with our closest neighbouring resources being almost 200km away in Meekatharra and Leinster, we really are on our own when it comes to significant emergency response.”

The Nationals WA emergency services spokesman Colin de Grussa said it was incredible Mr Bloffwitch and his team had been left in such a dire situation.

“The high level of risk has already been identified, it shouldn’t take the loss of life or limb for the Minister or his Department to take action on this,” he said.

“Thursday’s State Budget should make an allowance to fund this appliance upgrade.”

For media enquiries please contact Vince Catania on (08) 99412 999 or email northwest@mp.wa.gov.au