Member for Cootamundra Steph Cooke turned the first sod of the new South West Slopes Zone Fire Control Centre today, heralding the start of a new era for local NSW Rural Fire Service firefighters.

Ms Cooke was joined by NSW RFS Senior Assistant Commissioner Bruce McDonald to mark the start of construction of the new $6.3 million facility.

The new office will provide the South West Slopes Zone state-of-the-art facilities to continue providing support to the community, as well as better supporting members during incidents and by providing enhanced training capabilities.

“This is a truly fantastic day for the Rural Fire Service and for the Harden community, as we will see a brand-new facility with the latest in technology for giving an overview of incidents in the South West Slopes Zone,” Ms Cooke said.

“It will give our brave and dedicated firefighters even greater support during operations and this in turn means our communities will be better protected. These men and women remain ready every hour of every day, and I am extremely proud and grateful for their wonderful commitment.

“The current facility located at the Trinity Centre in Harden had served us well but was not up to the task anymore, so it is reassuring to know that this new Control Centre is under way with a projected completion date of June 2020.”

Senior Assistant Commissioner Bruce McDonald said NSW RFS volunteers are committed to helping their communities 24 hours a day, seven days a week and this new facility will assist them to carry out that important work.

“The new Fire Control Centre will feature dedicated Operations and Planning rooms with a state-of-the-art knowledge wall for situational awareness. There will also be multiple training rooms, outdoor catering facilities for both volunteers and staff, an administrative area and dedicated storage facilities for support resources,” Senior Assistant Commissioner McDonald said.

In addition to NSW RFS operations, this facility will also be able to support other agencies and is expected to become a hub for local emergency services.

“Members of the South West Slopes Zone protect their community from grass fires as well as a diverse array of incidents, and they also provide support to other agencies,” Ms Cooke said.

“In addition to responding to incidents and attending fires further afield, brigades regularly host members of our community on open days and this centre will make that an even more exciting opportunity for all of us.”