NEW VOLUNTEER: Keppel MP Brittany Lauga could soon be riding in one of these firefighting appliances on her way to fight bushfires after signing up with The Caves Rural Fire Brigade.
NEW VOLUNTEER: Keppel MP Brittany Lauga could soon be riding in one of these firefighting appliances on her way to fight bushfires after signing up with The Caves Rural Fire Brigade.

Pollie puts hand up to join CQ’s rural fireys

ONE of CQ’s most recognisable political figures is grabbing onto a drip torch and stepping up to help one of our rural fire brigades in person.

Not content to simply provide political backing for the Rural Fire Service, Keppel MP Brittany Lauga has proudly shown off her completed application on social media to volunteer with the rural fireys.

“My application to Queensland Fire and Emergency Services is in to become a Rural Firefighter at The Caves Rural Fire Brigade,” Ms Lauga said.

SIGNED UP: Keppel MP Brittany Lauga has taken the plunge to sign up to be a rural firefighting volunteer with The Caves Brigade.
SIGNED UP: Keppel MP Brittany Lauga has taken the plunge to sign up to be a rural firefighting volunteer with The Caves Brigade.

“I truly admire our volunteer rural firefighters. They are so courageous, they give so much of their time and they put their lives on the line to help keep our community safe.”

The member for Keppel said she couldn’t wait to start training to become a volunteer rural firefighter.

“I am also looking forward to learning the ropes from some of the most experienced rural firefighters in our region,” she said.

“I’m nervous about participating in controlled burns and the possibility of fighting a live bushfire, but I am putting my money where my mouth is by signing up and committing to help.”

Ms Lauga’s help will be appreciated given The Caves brigade had been at the forefront of several protracted battles to beat back the flames of significant bushfires which have threatened neighbouring communities over the years.

For more information on volunteering with the RFS go to ruralfire.qld.gov.au.

FIRE BATTLE: The Caves Rural Fire Service firefighter Anthony Carter shared these photos of the blaze burning at Old Byfield Rd, Cobraball, last year.
FIRE BATTLE: The Caves Rural Fire Service firefighter Anthony Carter shared these photos of the blaze burning at Old Byfield Rd, Cobraball, last year.

New appliances handed over to CQ Rural Fire Brigades

Rural Fire Brigades Association Queensland’s Rockhampton Representative Robert Lang said at the RFBAQ’s recent general meeting and AGM, they resolved to give away eight Landcruiser Light Attack fire trucks to Rural fire brigades in Queensland that currently do not have one.

Ogmore Rural Fire Brigade and Kunwarara Rural Fire Brigade were the two Livingstone Shire-based brigades to receive new appliances.

“Two brigades in CQ have been awarded one of these vehicles each,” Mr Lang said.

“These trucks are valued at $125,000 each and this will be of huge benefit to RFB firefighting resources in CQ.”

READ MORE:

>> Behind the scenes of The Caves Fitzroy Rural Fire Brigade

>> The Caves residents on tenterhooks with bushfires menacing

>> Stunning footage of Cap Coast properties saved from bushfire

NEW VEHICLES: A group photo from the RFBAQ General Meeting features two of the firefighting LandCruisers to be deployed in CQ.
NEW VEHICLES: A group photo from the RFBAQ General Meeting features two of the firefighting LandCruisers to be deployed in CQ.

Rural Fire Brigades Association Queensland General Manager Justin Choveaux said each truck was fully funded by donations from business and a very generous public.

“Each truck will become the property of the individual Rural Fire Brigade and not the Government,” Mr Choveaux said.

“The RFBAQ received 16 applications from truck-less brigades across Queensland who would like to improve their community defence abilities.

“The RFBAQ will supply these applications to the State Government and start advocating for an increased truck build program.”

He said each application was written and endorsed by the local RFSQ inspector using the appropriate government template for additional equipment.

Mr Choveaux provided more in depth detail about CQ’s two lucky vehicle recipient brigades – Ogmore Rural Fire Brigade and Kunwarara Rural Fire Brigade:

  • Ogmore Rural Fire Brigade is a primary producer brigade in the Livingstone Shire Council area. The brigade has 18 firefighters and a total of 25 members. Current equipment is four mop-up units and three trailers. The location is about 120km north of Rockhampton and has Bruce Highway frontage of about 34km on both sides. It includes the township of Ogmore which straddles the North Coast rail line. The posted speed limit on the Bruce Highway through the brigade area is 110 kmh. There are frequent incidents/accidents arising as a result, often from wheel bearing failures (overheating) and collisions with straying wildlife, high speed rollovers and collisions. Currently the brigade’s only means of communication is by mobile phone (sometimes patchy) and their own UHF/CB vehicle sets. Brigade members are becoming increasingly reluctant to attend highway related incidents because of safety issues surrounding their attendance. The brigade does not have one flashing light bar to its name to warn traffic of their operations in the smoke along the highway.
FIRE FIGHT: Cawarral Rural Fire Brigade member Nathan Jung looks keeps an eye on the Cobraball bushfire burning near Old Byfield Road last November.
FIRE FIGHT: Cawarral Rural Fire Brigade member Nathan Jung looks keeps an eye on the Cobraball bushfire burning near Old Byfield Road last November.
  • Kunwarara Rural Fire Brigade (will receive the 8th Landcruiser that is in the process of being fundraised by tax deductible donation). Kunwarara Primary Producer brigade is in the Livingstone Shire Council Area. The brigade has eight firefighters and a total of 20 members. Current equipment is three mop-up units and two trailers. Kunwarara currently responds to all fire calls using privately paid and maintained 4x4 vehicles with slip-ons. Some of the major fires in the area have all been responded using these vehicle however they are finding it increasingly harder due availability and capability to use on the fire ground given they are not equipped with crew protection devices, nor do they have emergency lighting that is safe to use in all occasions along a busy highway. Current maintenance cost to these vehicle are coming from the limited funding the brigade has and most time individual members are fuelling up pumps and the vehicles at their own expense.

$47.1 million to support Rural Fire Service volunteers

Minister for Fire and Emergency Services Craig Crawford recently announced an increase to the Rural Fire Service budget for this year.

The funding boost to $47.1 million will assist Rural Fire Service (RFS) volunteers this bushfire season.

Queensland has more than 30,000 Rural Fire Service (RFS) volunteers across 1400 rural fire brigades and Yellow Ribbon Day is the perfect time to recognise the contribution of the women and men of the RFS.

Mr Crawford said the unwavering dedication of RFS volunteers was paramount to keeping our communities safe.

Fire and Emergency Services Minister Craig Crawford. Picture: Kevin Farmer
Fire and Emergency Services Minister Craig Crawford. Picture: Kevin Farmer

“The 2019 bushfire season was unlike anything we’ve seen before, but thanks to our volunteer fireys, we made it through even more resilient than before,” Mr Crawford said.

“The devastating fires across the state saw our RFS volunteers work tirelessly to protect Queenslanders.

“Not only were they fighting fires in their own communities, but were deployed to other parts of Queensland and interstate to combat the wider bushfire threat.”

Queensland Fire and Emergency Services (QFES) Commissioner Greg Leach has acknowledged the tireless work of RFS volunteers.

“From my first day as Commissioner in the midst of the 2019 bushfires, I have seen the amazing contribution that our RFS volunteers provide,” Mr Leach said.

“Day after day they always showed up, and in some cases never went home, giving up their own time to help others.”

Mr Leach said as well as fighting fires, volunteers also conducted some of the state’s most crucial bushfire mitigation tasks to prepare Queensland.

“Becoming a volunteer RFS firefighter allows you to gain so many valuable skills, and anyone interested in joining should have a chat to their local brigade,” he said.

“It is a great way to meet new people, make new friends and learn new skills through a range of different roles.”

The LNP has accused the Queensland Government of using smoke and mirrors to hide cuts to Queensland’s rural fire brigades.

LNP Shadow Minister for Emergency Services and Volunteers Lachlan Millar
LNP Shadow Minister for Emergency Services and Volunteers Lachlan Millar

When Labor announced that the rural fire budget had been increased to $47.1 million – the LNP claimed it did not provide a breakdown of the funding figure and did not release how much had spent on the brigades in 2019-20.

In 2018/19 total funding for rural fire brigades was $53.5m – $6.4m more than the figure announced.

LNP Shadow Minister for Fire and Emergency Services Lachlan Millar said the only undisputed fact was that Labor had slashed rural fire funding by $6.4m over the last two years.

Mr Crawford responded to the LNP’s criticism saying the Queensland Government had been working with rural fire brigades across our state to deliver new trucks, which were built in Queensland, supporting around 150 Queensland jobs.

“Since 2015 we have fast tracked the delivery of more than 330 new rural fire trucks, including 11 new appliances to brigades in Keppel, worth over $1.7m,” Mr Crawford said.

“These trucks represent the biggest investment in the firefighting fleet in over 20 years, with the Palaszczuk Government delivering an average of 60 trucks every single year.

“When the LNP were in government they delivered a measly 68 trucks across their entire term of government.”

FIRE BATTLE: The Caves Rural Fire Service firefighter Anthony Carter shared these photos of the blaze burning at Old Byfield Rd, Cobraball.
FIRE BATTLE: The Caves Rural Fire Service firefighter Anthony Carter shared these photos of the blaze burning at Old Byfield Rd, Cobraball.

Mr Crawford said he found it galling that the LNP was running around the state spreading lies about the budget for the Rural Fire Service.

“Our brave volunteers deserve so much better than this shameless politicking,” he said.

“As I announced, the budget for the Rural Fire Service for this financial year is $47.1 million, up from $40.8 million last year, and a whopping 33% higher than the LNP’s last budget.

“This includes operating expenses, more new appliances and capital expenditure as well as helping out brigades with additional costs like fuel and maintenance – which the LNP refused to fund when they were in government.”

He said the Queensland Government had an important role to play in making sure our volunteers were ready for whatever mother nature threw at them.

“That’s why the Palaszczuk Government has also committed more than $15 million over five years to base a Large Air Tanker right here in Queensland, bolstering aerial capabilities across the state this bushfire season,” he said.

“It doesn’t have to be yellow ribbon day to say thank you to Rural Fire Brigades, and I urge Queenslanders to show their support for our dedicated RFS volunteers every day of the year.”



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