Piggabeen hot for rural fire brigade
PIGGABEEN residents, watching as their land dries out, have called for a rural fire brigade to be set up in their area before a major fire threatens local houses. While population pressures the scenic border valley, nursery owner Tony Santamaria has called for a brigade to respond to nearby accidents and blazes. He said a rural fire brigade at Piggabean could take the pressure off the nearest fire brigade at Bilambil by servicing Cobaki, Piggabean, Glengarrie and surrounding areas. Bilambil Rural Fire Service (RFS) is currently responsible for attending incidents from North Tumbulgum to the border with its two engines. "We have got enough to warrant an engine out here, it would service a big area and there are a lot of younger families moving out here," Mr Santamaria said. "There has been nothing to prove we need it, but we don't want to end up in the situation where something happens. "I think we could staff an engine pretty easy. All we would need would be a 4WD to get up the border tracks." Bilambil RFS member and Piggabean resident Robin Dawes said a group of residents had sent a letter to the RFS offering land at the old school to build a station on. "We got a bureaucratic letter back that said nothing," he said. Mr Dawes said Bilambil RFS had got lost in the past while attending incidents at Piggabeen, but weekend familiarisation tours had hopefully reduced this. Tweed RFS superintendent Dave Cook said thresholds had not yet been met to start a brigade on the border, but they were monitoring the situation. "The area is expanding rapidly and we are monitoring it to see if a brigade should or could be established," he said. "Certain thresholds have to be met though. That's more than just population, but also assets, infrastructure, response time," he said. "At the moment Bilambil is providing excellent and adequate coverage." Supt Cook said an engine would not be moved from Bilambil in the meantime because it threatened to delay strategic response times.