Limited and ageing facilities is currently preventing the Country Fire Authority's Heathcote brigade from growing to meet the needs of the community.
Brigade members are desperate for a new station because their current digs - which were built 50 years ago and last updated in 2003 - are turning off potential new members.
Among the issues with the current station are the lack of female-friendly change rooms, limited training areas and small storage areas.
Brigade captain Carl Watkins has been with the Heathcote brigade for 46 years, including 17 years as captain.
It's an honour he wears with pride, following in the footsteps of his father who had a 37-year tenure in the captaincy role.
However, his heart sinks when he sees the state of the Heathcote station today.
"You couldn't renovate that station to current satisfactory standards," Captain Watkins said.
"To get it up to scratch we need a new station on a new site.
"The idea (of female-friendly change rooms) didn't exist when it was built because there were no female firefighters in the brigade.
"We have had lots of female members. Most put up with it, some have complained and we have tried to find a work-around but it is such a small space, it can't be renovated."
"Both men's and ladies' toilets are 50 years old and stainless steel. They get cleaned but you can imagine what stainless steel is like after 50 years."
Brigade chair Graeme Fleming joined Heathcote CFA three years ago and has been helping lead the campaign for a new station.
He said the brigade also faced safety issues when maintaining its equipment.
"If we want to wash the trucks, that's done on the footpath and when the hoses have to be washed and dried, we have to take them out on the road," he said.
"There's hangers there but if you've got a lot of hoses, you've got to put them somewhere. So we just roll them out on the road.
"Parking is an issue. There has been a couple of times when there's been a major incident and there is just vehicles everywhere."
Mr Fleming said the lack of female change rooms had affected the brigade's ability to recruit.
"Ideally, we would like to have upwards of probably 30 operative firefighters," he said.
"To achieve that we need some younger people coming in. We've currently got about 15 operational firefighters.
"We do get a number of women interested in taking it up but because of the facilities and because there's no change rooms or anything like that, they just back off."
Mr Fleming said change room options were so limited that many brigade members put their gear on in the garage while fire trucks were running.
"Everybody has a kit bag, which is quite big. The hanging room for all the yellows is not ideal," he said.
"There's the issue regarding when they are changing. The trucks are running, you're breathing diesel fumes and there's no exhaust fans.
"There needs to be an alternative where they can handle their gear and that sort of thing."
Captain Watkins said the push for a new fire station in Heathcote began 12 years ago.
"The CFA asked us to identify ground for a new station and we've been doing things off and on since then," he said.
"From the initial requests, we couldn't find suitable ground. In later years we had been identifying ground that was suitable but the CFA didn't have the money to purchase land. It's all about funding."
He said a new station was desperately needed.
"The meeting room doesn't fit the whole brigade in it," captain Watkins said.
"We can't train inside because there is not enough room."
Victorian Emergency Services Minister Jaclyn Symes was on site at Heathcote last week to announce a $680,000 project that would see 10 permanent and remote weather stations delivered to provide hyper-localised weather data, fire spread predictions and community warnings.
During her announcement, she had the opportunity to tour the Heathcote station and recognised that a future site must be considered.
"I've been speaking to the brigade members here at Heathcote," she said.
"It is a community I am familiar with because not only am I the Minister for Emergency Services but I am the local member for the area covering Heathcote.
"(The brigade) provides a fantastic service to the community.
"I know the building is old. It was built in the '70s, it's landlocked and we are going to have to think about a future site. Those conversations will be welcomed and ongoing."
A CFA spokesperson said the organisation was endeavouring to upgrade and replace stations across the state in an equitable manner to support volunteer brigades and the communities they serve.
"CFA is aware of the limitations of the current Heathcote Fire Station, which is also home to a Local Command Facility," the spokesperson said.
"The capital works program is informed by CFA's infrastructure priorities, which take into consideration district, regional and state-wide needs, including community risk profile and service delivery needs, to ensure the best outcome for all Victorians.
"Heathcote Fire Station has not been identified for replacement under the CFA capital works program at this time.
"CFA is committed to ensuring its assets meet service delivery requirements and will continue to review the station accordingly."
Captain Watkins said it was pleasing to have Ms Symes visit the Heathcote station.
"She made the effort to come and have a look," he said.
"The brigade had made contact with her that hadn't seen much of a response, but she came and looked and had a good talk to us.
"She is aware of the station's shortcomings. It is just matter of seeking funding to get it replaced."
Captain Watkins said he hoped a new station wasn't years away with the brigade needing to grow alongside the Heathcote community.
"Our issue, like other brigades, is day time firefighters," he said. "Every brigade struggles for day time fire fighters.
"The number of houses and people living in the area we serve has grown so much in the past 12 to 18 months. We're not a small country town any more.
"I'm quite sure we will get one eventually. But we'll keep soldiering on."
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