Don Duffus from the Hervey Bay Rural Fire Brigade Group at the Nikenbah headquarters.
Don Duffus from the Hervey Bay Rural Fire Brigade Group at the Nikenbah headquarters. Valerie Horton

Firies funding just $1200 yearly

OUR rural firies really are 15 years behind the southern states, according to Emergency Services Minister Neil Roberts’ financial disclosure in yesterday’s Chronicle that the government would spend $7.34 million over the coming four years.

“These are their own figures and they’re alarming,” Hervey Bay Rural Fire Brigades group officer Don Duffus said yesterday.

“When you break down that $7.34 million over four years and across 1530 brigades statewide, each brigade will get just under $1200 per year.

“You might get two-and-a-half months of fuel out of that.”

Rural firies are volunteers who support the work done by paid full-time and part-time firefighters, rural operations assistant commissioner Steve Rothwell said yesterday.

“The State Government has allocated a record $29.6m in the 2009/10 budget for rural operations.”

But Mr Duffus says that money goes to Qld Fire and Rescue Service and is then allocated to rural firies.

“Much of it went to replacing vintage fire trucks.”

Mr Rothwell said it was usual that for vehicles to be retired at 20 years.

“However, many are replaced well before this time, which is usually dependent on their usage rate or the ability to transfer them to other brigades,” he said.

“We are told point blank that no appliance over 20 years of age can remain in service because there’s no insurance for those vehicles,” Mr Duffus responded.

The department anticipates 34 new or replacement vehicles will be bought for brigades across the state this financial year.

“Any new 61 4WD dual cab trucks should be allocated to high growth areas like coastal regions. We need some here right now. Our single cab trucks could go inland,” Mr Duffus said.

Rural volunteers were also recognised for their efforts by awards, certificates and honour systems, the commissioner said.

“Last Hervey Bay group meeting, which was in November, we wrote to our district office asking for awards for long service for members in our individual brigades. We’ve still heard nothing back,” Mr Duffus said.



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