Fiskville site clean by 2020

Facilities at the toxic former Fiskville training campus will not be used in any form until at least 2020, when the site is completely de-commissioned.

TRAINING SITE: CFA acting chief officer Alen Slijepcevic, Buninyong MP Geoff Howard, Emergency Management Commissioner Craig Lapsley and Emergency Services minister James Merlino announce the new facility.

TRAINING SITE: CFA acting chief officer Alen Slijepcevic, Buninyong MP Geoff Howard, Emergency Management Commissioner Craig Lapsley and Emergency Services minister James Merlino announce the new facility.

While building a brand-new $30 million modern firefighting training centre in Ballan’s industrial precinct, the state government will also spend more than $80 million dollars “cleaning up” the notorious Fiskville site, linked to a cancer cluster. 

After a long struggle to secure suitable land in Ballan, Emergency Services minister James Merlino revealed plans for a new $30 million Victorian Emergency Management Training Centre on land purchased near Ingliston Road.

At Monday’s announcement of the new centre, Mr Merlino said the sudden closing of Fiskville, which was essential for safety reasons, had created a gap in fire training that needed to be filled.

“We closed Fiskville because it was toxic. It was toxic for our firefighters and it had to close,” Mr Merlino said.

“We knew that by closing Fiskville there was a gap in training.  So in our last budget we delivered not only around $80 million for the rehabilitation of the Fiskville site but also $46 million for training.” 

Emergency Management Commissioner Craig Lapsley said the de-commissioning process was expected to be completed by late 2020.

The CFA must adhere to strict Environmental Protection Authority orders during the process.

“It will be done to the directions that the EPA oversee and we will see long term what that property can be used for  – the site wont be used in any way shape or form until those orders have been carried out,” Mr Lapsley said. 

The state government had struggled to find suitable land for the new training centre because it had to fit a number of specific requirements. The new site is located within Ballan’s industrial area has access to facilities including water.

“We’ve waited now almost two years to come and pinpoint the exact  location to build what is the Central Highland Firefighter Training Facility. It is not only CFA, it is led by CFA but will be used by other emergency services such as Ambulance Victoria, FFMV and other emergency service organisations,” Mr Lapsley said. 

A detailed design and planning process will begin in coming months with construction expected to begin in the first half of 2018.

The project is expected to be completed within three years, but Mr Merlino said the exact time frame would not be known until the plans had been finalised. 

Mr Laplsey said the new site would be built to highest possible standards to ensure health problems associated with Fiskville did not occur again.