After patiently waiting, West Perth officially opens fire station
Shoreline Beacon
West Perth’s brand new (okay, maybe it’s not brand new) $2.3 million fire station in Mitchell is loaded with state-of-the-art technology but if you ask Chief Bill Hunter, he’ll tell you some of his favourite features are more than a century old.
At the top of a 45-foot hose tower, for example, is the town’s former post office clock. It runs with modern components now, Hunter explained, but the clock’s face dates all the way back to 1911.

An accompanying bell, originally cast in England and shipped to Mitchell in 1912, was also preserved after that original post office was torn down in 1974. It now rings out at the top of every hour.

On the other side of the new 12,600 square-foot fire station, an adjacent museum displays two antique fire trucks plus photos and other materials highlighting West Perth’s 150-year-old firefighting history.

“Stuff like that I get a kick out of,” Hunter said. “Those firefighters that started out 150 years ago, they laid the foundation for where we are today and I think that’s why it’s important to recognize that past. They never had bunker gear, the never had breathing apparatus. We have all that stuff because of what they did before.”

West Perth’s 27 volunteer firefighters moved into the new station on Wellington Street about 18 months ago. Delayed by the pandemic, they celebrated its official grand opening with local officials, other first responders, and the wider community on July 9.

Among them was West Perth Mayor Walter McKenzie.

“This is a very important improvement to our community,” he said. “It’s been overdue, really. There’s just so much more room here.”

The department’s previous station next door – an addition to the nearby town hall West Perth officials are also preparing to move out of – was six decades old and less than half the size of the new building.

Besides the extra space (and the nods to local history), the new hall features a long list of much-needed modern upgrades, many of which are important for the health and safety of firefighters, Hunter said.

The station’s four double deep drive-though bays have automatic air quality sensors and are a much better fit for modern tankers. “One of the number one ways (firefighters) get injured is they get struck by a truck, usually backing in,” Hunter said. “Drive-through bays eliminate that need for them to back trucks in.”

A new independent bunker storage room was also built with its own ventilation system, which means lingering fumes from a fire call can be dispersed safely. “Before the gear was … in the same room that (firefighters) did their training in and you can’t have that,” Hunter said.

The new building is barrier-free and also includes new accessible washroom facilities, dedicated training and office space, and a roof capable of accommodating solar panels.

A $20,000 outdoor LED sign was purchased by the West Perth Firefighters Association.

The grand opening event also allowed West Perth firefighters an opportunity to celebrate another milestone. Station Chief Jim Tubb received recognition for his ongoing service in Mitchell after his 40th anniversary with the department passed last year.

“(Hunter) did catch me by surprise,” Tubb said afterwards, adding that the new station was on a list of things he wanted to be a part of before considering retirement. “We have a great team right now … and that makes it easy to stick around.”

Firefighters in West Perth respond to about 125 calls a year, on average, and space at the new station has already been well utilized. It was used as a command centre during a nine-day search and rescue operation after a young girl in Mitchell fell into Whirl Creek earlier this year.


<back to Headlines