Unanderra's fire station used to be a dingy little building with a serious lack of space and facilities - but not any more.
A raft of dignitaries yesterday joined jubilant Unanderra firefighters for the unveiling of the station's fresh new $700,000 refurbishment.
Now double its former size, the station has been decked out with a new station commander's office, gym, kitchen and bathroom facilities, and improved protective equipment storage.
Emergency services minister Michael Gallacher and Fire and Rescue NSW Commissioner Greg Mullins officially opened the new-look building, handing over the keys to station commander Paul Dawson.
Mr Dawson said the building was constructed in 1962 and had long ago been outgrown by the crew of 18 retained fire fighters.
"It's been a long time in the waiting. But we finally achieved it, and we got a state-of-the-art station out of it," Mr Dawson said.
Mr Mullins said Unanderra was a busy station, averaging 862 calls a year.
"That's at least two a day. That could be chemical spills, bush fires, house fires, road accidents - you name it - so they deserve the best facilities available," he said.
"It will boost their ability to continue their work in keeping our community safe and protecting us from fires and other emergencies."
During his trip to the Illawarra yesterday, Mr Mullins said he had also met with a Dapto station officer to discuss issues with the new dispatch system in the region.
Firefighters have reported that at times units from suburbs some distance from an emergency have been sent to respond, despite another station being closer.
"I have heard of problems ... we're reviewing them now and I had a comprehensive briefing just [yesterday] morning about issues with the system. The vendors have actually put a lot of patches in place," he said.
"There were issues. We're confident they've been fixed."
Mr Mullins said the service had foreseen teething problems with the Emergency Services Computer Aided Dispatch (ESCAD) system, introduced in June.
"The teething problems went a bit longer than we anticipated, unfortunately, but we do think we're on top of those problems now," he said. "It's good that local officers have brought them to our attention."
Pictured: Unanderra station commander Paul Dawson accepts the keys to the refurbished building from Fire and Rescue NSW Commissioner Greg Mullins. The commissioner is confident that issues with the dispatch system reported earlier have been dealt with. Photo: KEN ROBERTSON