Member for Western Victoria
Derryn Hinch’s Justice Party

Confined Space Rescue Equipment

Mr GRIMLEY (Western Victoria) (14:26): My question is for the Minister for Emergency Services, and it relates to operational equipment and trained staff for the Lucas fire station in Western
Victoria. In 2018 there was a tragic incident that saw two men lose their lives in a trench collapse in  Delacombe. The local professional firefighters were only a few kilometres away from the incident, and they responded quickly. Unfortunately they were not equipped with the tools necessary to rescue these men. Professional firefighters have been calling on the government to supply the proper equipment to enable the north-west of the state to have the ability to perform trench and confined space rescues. The United Firefighters Union (UFU) believes that this equipment is available now; however, it is gathering dust in storage in Melbourne. Given the number of excavation equipment operating daily in the north-west of the state, which is well over 100, it should now be a no-brainer to  have equipment and trained staff based in Lucas. Currently the nearest equipment is in Warrnambool or Richmond. Minister, will the government supply trench rescue equipment and staff for Fire Rescue Victoria professional firefighters to keep the north-west of Victoria safe?

Mr GRIMLEY (Western Victoria) (14:29): Thanks, Minister. In a letter that you wrote to the victims’ families of the 2018 trench collapse there were misleading assertions, according to UFU
firefighters. This led to a statutory declaration being made to contradict these. According to the stat dec that was made, the minister asserted that the Ballarat city fire station was a technical rescue fire station with trench rescue capabilities. This is not factually correct as there is no equipment at that particular fire station, only the trained staff. These assertions could lead to the victims’ families believing that the equipment and staff were available in the area during the 2018 trench collapse; however, we know this was not the case. I met with the professional firefighters at Lucas, and they would like to clarify with the minister why these assertions were made and why they are not being provided with the necessary staff and equipment to protect their community. Minister, will you commit to meeting the professional firefighters at the Lucas and Ballarat stations to discuss their professional needs prior to the November election?


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