Firies in search for a new home
LIFE and property in Lennox Head could be placed at serious risk if the Rural Fire Service can’t find an appropriate site for its local brigade.
The station has been based at a temporary site with inadequate facilities in town adjacent to the community centre, but the clock is ticking.
The RFS must move soon and has the funds for a new headquarters but desperately needs a suitable location.
Lennox Head RFS president and captain, Ray Wilton, said the brigade had been ready to build on a new site provided by Ballina Shire Council on The Coast Road opposite the Byron Bay Road junction.
A development application had been approved but the Jali Local Aboriginal Land Council had objected in writing due to the proximity of the site to a significant local midden.
Council identified an alternative site on Ross Lane though Captain Wilton said problems with access, flooding and unacceptable response times to the Lennox CBD made it untenable.
“We pride ourselves on our response times and five or 10 minutes can mean the difference between saving a structure or stopping it spreading to other buildings,” he said.
Ballina Shire Council general manager Paul Hickey said council was struggling to find an appropriate location due to the acute shortage of available land in Lennox Head.
“It is a problem as we don’t own a lot of land there,” he said.
“We originally had a site approved near the Ocean Breeze Reserve, but there were a lot of local objections.”
Following the rejection of its next two proposed sites on The Ocean Road and Ross Lane, council is running out of options.
“We haven’t found a solution yet, but we are sincerely trying,” Mr Hickey said.
At this stage all stakeholders are open to alternatives to council or Crown land though any commercial lease would have to be a minimum 25-year term to justify building expenses.
Captain Wilton is concerned it will take a tragedy for the community to understand the crucial role of the RFS in protecting life and property in Lennox Head.