Emerald SES unveils new building

Unit Controller Ben Owen, Gembrook MP Brad Battin, Deputy Controller Jessica Rice and Jim Paxton opened the facility.

By Parker Mckenzie

Shortly after a flag raising ceremony opened the new Emerald SES building, the unit received the first call out from their new home.

Jim Paxton, Jenna Perry and Tom Johnson piled into the vehicle as they lifted the roller doors for the first time to respond to community call out for a fallen tree.

The brief ceremony on Saturday 20 November was attended by members of the Emerald SES unit and local Gembrook MP Brad Battin a week before the official opening on Saturday 27 November.

The new facility includes five drive through engine bays with room for 10 vehicles and trailers, administrative offices, a training room and a well being area for volunteers.

Unit Controller Ben Owen said opening the new building was a relief that had been a long time coming.

“It’s taken five years for concept drawings and the building process to be done,” he said.

“I’ve been in the SES seven years and we all assumed we were going to get a new building soon and that was seven years ago.”

Emerald SES has received close to 1700 calls for assistance so far in 2021 through heavy storms throughout the area.

Mr Owen said members have slept on the floor of the old building because they couldn’t get home through bad weather.

“To come into a state of the art building where the generators turn on by itself, the space for people to work safely, automated everything so the trucks can drive out with a press of a button instead of padlocks and chains will make such a difference,”

“In terms of recruitment and retention we’ll get volunteers running through the doors to join and be a part of this.”

Mr Owen also thanked Mr Battin for his work in ensuring the facility and Emerald SES was properly funded.

Mr Battin said he promised Mr Owen and his team that he wouldn’t give up on ensuring that the facility became a reality after he launched a community petition that received over 1100 signatures.

“To see it here for the community is amazing,” he said.

“I hope they get more members because people will see the great facility to come and train in.”

Mr Owen had his own home damaged in a storm and Mr Battin believes the effort of the families of SES members isn’t recognised enough.

“They put in so much effort whether it’s helping out at the SES when they can, but if you saw the recent storms and the horrible circumstance Ben went through with his house he’s still helping the community while his family is at risk as well,” Mr Battin said.

“They always want to know when they’ll come home safely, so the families go through a lot waiting at home for them to return.”

Mr Owen said the new facility will allow Emerald SES to achieve faster response times because they are able to store their equipment on site.

“I would like to thank our CFA counterparts, because we often use Emerald CFA’s training rooms to meet our needs,”

“For the past two years we have parked a vehicle at Cockatoo CFA because we haven’t had garages for our vehicles, so I must thank those two brigades particularly for their ongoing support.”