SMOKE HAZE: Smoke billowing from a bushfire near Farnborough Beach.
SMOKE HAZE: Smoke billowing from a bushfire near Farnborough Beach. Chris Ison

Crews on high alert as bush fire season looms closer

THE combination of prolonged dry conditions and the risk of a long, active bushfire season has firefighters across Central Queensland on high alert, Fire and Emergency Services Minister Craig Crawford said yesterday.

Speaking ahead of a visit to Rockhampton today, Mr Crawford said firefighters were working to combat the threat and urged communities to do the same.

"The official 2018-19 bushfire season is almost here and Queensland Fire and Emergency Services (QFES) want to ensure everyone is ready for what may come their way,” Mr Crawford said.

"QFES has identified dry conditions at known bushfire hotspots including Rockhampton, Gladstone, Beecher, Mount Larcom, Calliope, Tannum Sands, Agnes Water, Mount Morgan and Longreach.

"There is an increased threat of fires starting and spreading at these locations, which highlights the importance of people taking steps to prepare their homes and properties.”

Mr Crawford said QFES' firefighting efforts had been bolstered ahead of the 2018 season through much-needed additional resources.

"More than 100 new appliances have been delivered statewide to QFES - including about 60 to the Rural Fire Service (RFS) - under the Palaszczuk Government's capital works program for 2017-18,” Mr Crawford said.

"We will continue to build on this momentum, with $44.3 million committed in our record 2018-19 QFES Budget for the replacement and delivery of another 180 new urban and rural vehicles.

"These additions to our fleet feature the latest technology and ensure our dedicated firefighters have the best equipment and vehicles to respond to bushfires and protect their communities.”

Photos from the backburning fire in bushland in the southern end of Quay St in Depot Hill early this morning.
Photos from the backburning fire in bushland in the southern end of Quay St in Depot Hill early this morning. Vanessa Jarrett

Member for Rockhampton Barry O'Rourke urged residents to use the next few weeks to prepare for bushfire season and help reduce the risk to local communities.

"Any work put in now will reduce threats ahead of the 2018 bushfire season,” he said. "It's time to start thinking about taking practical steps to prepare your home and help ensure the safety of your family and community.”

Member for Keppel Brittany Lauga said people could finalise their bushfire preparations and complement the work of firefighters on the ground.

"There are simple things everyone can do around the home, such as cleaning up yards and putting in fire breaks,” Mrs Lauga said.

Member for Gladstone Glenn Butcher said another important step people could take ahead of the season included finalising their Bushfire Survival Plan.

"Having a Bushfire Survival Plan ensures families and households know what to do in an emergency and makes the work of firefighters much easier,” Mr Butcher said.

"According to QFES, Gladstone communities have averaged 184 bushfires a season for the past four seasons, so the risk is very real.”

QFES assistant commissioner Steve Barber said firefighters had ramped up efforts since Operation Cool Burn - the state's main bushfire hazard reduction period - launched in April.

"Our firefighters have been working with residents, farmers, business owners and other landholders right across the region to minimise the impacts of bushfire ahead of the season,” Mr Barber said.

"Community education is a continued focus for our local crews and this, combined with traditional methods of mitigation like conducting hazard reduction burns and reinforcing fire breaks will ensure we are well prepared for the months to come.”

Visit www.ruralfire.qld.gov .au/ for more information on bushfire safety or to complete your Bushfire Survival Plan.



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