When the black summer bushfires hit the New England region in late 2019, it exposed the shortcomings of Armidale's Rural Fire Service facility.
But on Friday, the first sod was turned on a new $6 million Rural Fire Service New England Fire Control Centre, to be built at Armidale Regional Airport.
By the end of next month excavators and work crews will replace planes at the northern end of airport, as construction begins on the new fire control centre.
Northern Tablelands MP Adam Marshall and NSW Rural Fire Service Chief Superintendent Jayson McKellar turned the first ceremonial sod of soil.
Mr Marshall said the long-awaited development would allow all firefighting co-ordination and management to move from its outdated facility on Mann Street and be consolidated at the airport.
Looking back at the black summer fires, Mr Marshall recalled how a lack of space and adequate technology meant that major fire response had to be coordinated from Glen Innes Fire Control Centre.
"This was in no way ideal when the majority of aerial firefighting operations were taking-off from Armidale Airport," Mr Marshall said.
"The airport was also the arrival site for interstate support personnel, who then had to be transported 100 kilometres up the New England Highway to Glen Innes for deployment."
He said almost $2 million has already been invested by the State Government to get the co-location of the NSW RFS FCC, Aviation Airbase and Logistics Brigade airborne.
"With enough space to accommodate a full Incident Management Team of more than 10 people, the Armidale Airport FCC will be equipped with the very best digital mapping and communication capabilities."
"This brand new, first class building will provide a tremendous boost to the 44 RFS brigades and more than 1000 volunteers over 1.8 million hectares of land in the region."
Mr Marshall said he was delighted former New England RFS District Manager Steve Mepham was present for the sod turn.
"We're only here today because of the efforts of Steve Mepham - he's almost single-handedly pushed this project along for years - now all his hard work has paid off," Mr Marshall said.
While the Mann Street FCC has served the community for many years, with the increasing frequency and ferocity of bushfires Mr Marshall said it was too small and lacked the equipment to successfully manage significant blazes.
"The new FCC will eradicate these unnecessary and time-consuming logistical issues in future and facilitate the swift deployment of assets during major fire events," he said.
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