Fiskville replacement finally secured

Fiskville during its operation in 2013.
Fiskville during its operation in 2013.

LAND for a new Ballan-based fire training site has been secured more than two years after the toxic Fiskville CFA facility was shut down.

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

Ballan leaders including Cr Paul Tatchell, who has fought for the centre to remain in Ballan, welcomed the investment. 

“Anything that brings economic development into the region has to be a good. Ultimately we’ve still got a long way to go and we are still recovering (from the loss of Fiskville),” Cr Tatchell said.

Mr Merlino said the 35 hectare site will include a firefighting pad, firefighting props, specialist training capabilities and breathing apparatus facilities. Unlike Fiskville it will not have on-site accommodation or be the training base for recruit firefighters.

“We’ve been working hard to secure this 35 hectare site and now we can get on with the job of building a safe, world-class training facility,” Mr Merlino said. 

More than $80 million dollars has been allocated to decommission the Fiskville training site, which was linked to a cancer cluster, and to conduct environmental audits and upgrades at six other Victorian sites. 

Ballan Fire Brigade Lieutenant Ian Ireland said announcement would be significant for many brigades in the area had not been able to access hot fire training for more than two years.

“We’re pleased the facility will remain in Ballan. It is the step in the right direction for economic growth,” Mr Ireland said.

“The centre was always valued by the community and a cause of pride. That needs to be repaired.” 

The site will have two full-time staff members and a range of casual workers for training purposes, maintenance and catering will be employed. 

CFA acting chief officer Alen Slijepcevic said the facility would have water treatment and management systems on-site and ongoing testing would be conducted to ensure it was environmentally safe. Development of the campus is expected to take three years.

“The campus will include training scenarios that simulate the emergencies our members would typically face – which will improve our ability to keep Victorian’s safe,” Mr Slijepcevic said.

Emergency management commissioner Craig Lapsley said the site would be used by the CFA and other services such as the SES.