Stanwell rural firefighter Brett Douglas takes a break from fighting the Mount Morgan fire.
Stanwell rural firefighter Brett Douglas takes a break from fighting the Mount Morgan fire. Chris Ison

Brett takes a break

BRETT Douglas skipped work yesterday.

But like scores of other volunteer firefighters, he had the best of reasons.

As he recovered with a soft drink during a short respite from tackling the blaze that has devastated thousands of hectares of bush around Mt Morgan, the 27-year-old from Stanwell was itching to get back to the front line.

Six hours into his first stint at Nine Mile Road, he was ready for the break.

“It's hard out there, but when you are in a rural brigade you do what's needed. I joined because we had some fires near where I live last year and I thought I shouldn't be relying on someone else to defend my property,” he said.

He became a volunteer a month ago.

The Stanwell crew was called in yesterday - the eighth day in a row that volunteers had battled the massive fires - as bosses shuffled the pack to give exhausted brigades a well-earned rest.

Incident controller Eddie Lacko, an Inspector with Queensland Fire and Rescue Service, said the full-time officers had nothing but admiration for volunteers like Brett.

“I can't say enough about these guys.

“They spend so much time and effort, giving up their own time for no reward,” he said.

“I would also like to thank all those employers across Central Queensland who are coping without staff because they are out fighting fires.

“Our message is please be patient. Without you releasing your workers, we simply couldn't cope.”

Over the week an estimated 450 men and women from all over the region have joined the operation, and more will be needed in the days ahead.

“It's really important for us to manage the fatigue problem. Some of the crews have put in huge efforts and they need to rest.”

Gerry Brimmell, a regional zone officer, said 92% of Queensland relied on volunteers for fire cover.

“These guys don't get a red cent and some of them have been putting in gruelling 12-hour shifts.

“We had people on Sunday who were out in the field from 6am and they didn't get a feed until 8pm.”



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