Deputy Premier and Minister for Police and Emergency Services Peter Ryan today officially opened the new state-of-the-art Department of Sustainability and Environment office and depot in Heyfield.
Mr Ryan said the new $9.1 million facility was fully equipped to manage high-level emergency incidents and would significantly strengthen the region's incident management capabilities.
"For many years this office has been the management hub for large-scale fires and floods in the region and this new facility will make the job for our emergency personnel so much easier," Mr Ryan said.
"It's an asset not just for Heyfield, but for Gippsland and regional Victoria as a whole."
Mr Ryan said the new facility was equipped as a Level 3 Incident Control Centre, the highest incident management level in Victoria, and catered for up to 40 office staff from the Department of Sustainability and Environment and Parks Victoria on a day-to-day basis.
"The entire building is pre-wired and configured to quickly accommodate double this number during an incident," Mr Ryan said.
"The latest technology and extensive cabling for phone, computer and radio communications means staff from any of the emergency management agencies are able to walk into the building and start working immediately. This is critical for large-scale incidents, when staff operate in shifts covering 24 hours a day."
Minister for Environment and Climate Change Ryan Smith applauded the facility, and said it would play a vital role in community protection, while at the same time incorporating Australian Best Practice environmentally sustainable design principles equivalent to a 4-Star Green Star (Design) rating, resulting in low operating costs through reduced energy and water use.
Member for Gippsland East Tim Bull said the design of the new facility was based on consultation held post the Black Saturday fires and sets the benchmark for the development of new Incident Control Centres.
"This is a vast improvement on the old office, which was in very poor structural condition, causing the walls and floors to move as people walked through the building," Mr Bull said.
"The new building is laid out so that the operations room and adjacent radio room act as a permanent hub, from which the incident management can be expanded."