Mirani MP calls for more support for rural fire crews
‘RED, red, red’.
Those three words had revealed just how close the recent fires in Rockhampton came to disaster.
Speaking to parliament last week, Member for Mirani Stephen Andrews addressed the severity of the bush fires that threatened homes and properties across the area at the start of the month.
“I spoke to the police minister today (Wednesday), and there have been over 30 charges laid for people lighting these fires,” he said.
“That is an absolute shame because we almost lost some people at Alton Downs.
“There were some ‘Red, red, red’ calls, and it was a very close call for all our people.”
In early September, multiple fires were burning around the Rockhampton area, with fires on the Nort side around Koongal, Lakes Creek and Mount Archer, as well as Bungundarra near Yeppoon and Alton Downs among some of the other fire affected areas.
Speaking about the challenges faced by rural and urban crews, Mr Andrew called for better amenities and more ‘cross-contamination’ in training.
Saying he was in town the Thursday after the fire, the Member spoke Mr Steve Barber and the two discussed the challenges the crews were faced with.
“Some of the people were moved from urban back to rural and vice versa,” he said.
“I am hoping that going forward there is a cross-contamination of training between the urbans and rurals so they understand each other’s equipments and they can work between the two.
“In that way, time would not be lost and fire could be adequately looked after and put out as quickly as possible.
“This would be especially so in a situation where people are lighting fires and we have our people out there trying to work … Situations can arise from these things that make it more dangerous for our frontline workers.”
Also noting the lack of facilities and amenities within some rural sections, Mr Andrews specifically named Mount Morgan and Alton Downs.
“They are both really active within the rural firefighting community,” he said.
“A lot of fires have been lit by firebugs and they have been constantly pushing these people out into the districts for a long time.
“They have no toilets. There are no amenities for the women to go to the toile. At night when they come home, they have to walk over 500 metres just to access any amenities, a nd I think that is wrong.
Stressing that more needs to be done to support the rural crews, Mr Andrews asked the House to help them moving forward.
“These good people are putting their time and their lives on the line and the least the House can do it give them some way to go forward.”