Volunteer firefighter Rob Aspinall can’t understand how Rockhampton Regional Council could suddenly bill The Caves Rural Fire Brigade for unpaid rent.
Volunteer firefighter Rob Aspinall can’t understand how Rockhampton Regional Council could suddenly bill The Caves Rural Fire Brigade for unpaid rent. Chris Ison

Firies get billed for rent, water

WATER is another expense Rockhampton Regional Council has asked The Caves Rural Fire Brigade to add to their list.

The council has billed the volunteer firefighters for water used at their brigade shed, along with a rent invoice back-dated to 2009.

The community group's treasurer, Jenny Kingston, said she was flabbergasted when she received the lease, with the brigade's shed labelled by the council as a "sport or recreation venue".

Jenny said she wanted to know how each time her son Brad Kingston, the brigade's first officer, was called away from his family or his job at Queensland Rail to fight a fire, could be described as an amusing activity or game.

"How is risking your life a sport or recreation?" Jenny asked Councillor Glenda Mather at a brigade meeting on Sunday.

Cr Mather said she would address the council on the matter yesterday.

"It's absolutely ludicrous," Cr Mather told The Morning Bulletin.

"They're an essential service.

"That's not the way you appreciate your volunteers."

Jenny said The Caves Rural Fire Brigade had not been charged for the past 20 years they had been in operation - until now.

She said the running costs for the brigade for the past financial year, not including their recent rent bill of $1750 and water charge, totalled $34,850.

The cost included diesel, a new truck, protection gear and general maintenance for the vehicles.

Jenny said the brigade received $16,800 from the council in the past financial year.

The group is forced to rely on donations and fundraisers.

Within the past three weeks the brigade said they had attended 39 fires throughout the region.

Despite their dedication, Brad said he was disappointed by the lack of support from Queensland Fire and Rescue Service and Rural Fire Service Queensland.

"I'm doing 20 to 30 hours a week and I've got to support my family and go to work," he said.

Cr Mather encouraged the group to record the hours they spent protecting the community by fighting fires for free.

A council spokeswoman said the council could not comment on the brigade's finances to a "third party", such as The Morning Bulletin.



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