Browns Builders preparing for annual bushfire threat

WANGARATTA-based Browns Builders is completing major upgrades of bushfire incident control centres in some of the most remote parts of Victoria.

The Department of Environment and Primary Industries’ depot at Bendoc near the NSW-Victoria border in far East Gippsland was opened recently and Browns will also start work on an $8 million upgrade at Swifts Creek in mid-January.

Both centres will be equipped to handle full-scale bushfire emergencies.

Browns Builders director Paul Challman said the $4.7 million Bendoc project was completed before the bushfire season started, but his company had agreed to postpone works if a fire broke out in the Swifts Creek area.

Both projects have been bankrolled by the Victorian Government and will operate in a similar manner to the Department of Environment and Primary Industries’ facility at Ovens.

The Swifts Creek centre played a major role in the containment of a large bushfire between Harrietville and Mount Hotham last summer.

It also played a significant part in fighting major fires in the Alpine area in 2003 and 2007.

A spokesman said the government was committed to investments to combat the annual bushfire threat.

“The Swifts Creek office is a critical level three incident control centre for the region being located in a remote area prone to fire activity,” he said.

Some of the existing facilities were built close to 50 years ago.

The department is one of the biggest employers in Swifts Creek with the workforce swelling during the bushfire season.

Seasonal firefighters start in October and carry out track clearing and planned burns with permanent staff until April.

Parliamentary secretary for environment Brad Battin and Member for Gippsland East Tim Bull officially opened the Bendoc facility last week.

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