Rural firefighters allowed to keep firetrucks ten more years

AS rural firefighters fear for high-density areas where "suburbia meets the bush" this season, they are happy they can now keep their prized firetrucks for an extra decade to tackle such tasks.

In Right to Information documents APN Newsdesk has viewed, a recommendation to extend truck life from 20 to 30 years was signed off on with a caveat that the vehicles were mechanically sound to keep operating.

Rural Fire Brigades Association of Queensland general manager Justin Choveaux said some rural brigades were quite busy while others might have one bad fire season every four or five years.

He said the Mitsubishi Canter firetrucks were popular appliances among their 35,000 volunteers and many did not want to part with them because of a mandatory rule in place.

Mr Choveaux said some had one done just 7-8000km since they came out between 1997 and 2000 and still met all the mechanical requirements.

He said the move would also result in a more equal truck replacement program in the future.

"It meets their local needs when a lot of new trucks don't," he said.

"It's a good all-round four-wheel-drive that gets into rocky and hilly country.

"The replacements don't necessarily meet all the environmental or geographic needs for some areas.

"Those brigades are more than happy to keep them for an extended period of time."

Mr Choveaux said with about 85% was still in drought but he was most concerned about the areas where "suburbia meets the bush" such as the Sunshine and Gold Coast hinterlands, Hervey Bay and the outskirts of Brisbane.

"That's where all your danger lies because you can't trade land for time, there's high density housing there all over the place," he said.

Mr Choveaux said there were already fires burning in the south-east and central regions on Monday with the warm spring weather.

He said recent rain in south-east Queensland had filled dams but did little to abate the fire risk.

"We have el niño coming, which means lower than average rainfall, and hotter than average summer," he said.

"This year looks like a hard year.

"We've had quite a few fires already this year.

"The fire season will end when it rains properly." - APN NEWSDESK

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