WARNING: Firefighters claim responses to fires, such as this one in Thorn St last month, will be slowed by the closure of the Limestone St station.
WARNING: Firefighters claim responses to fires, such as this one in Thorn St last month, will be slowed by the closure of the Limestone St station. Claudia Baxter

Firies raise alarm over loss of CBD station

FIREFIGHTERS fear the closure of the fire station in the Ipswich CBD will expose parts of the city to an increased fire risk.

The station on Limestone St is scheduled to close in two weeks and will be replaced by new stations at Ripley and Brassall.

United Firefighters Union state secretary John Oliver said that would lead to longer response times to CBD fires.

"Our concern is with the centre of the city," Mr Oliver said.

"We don't necessarily think Limestone St should stay but we think the new station at Brassall should be more centrally located.

"We're worried about response times, especially in buildings such as Ipswich Hospital, high-rise buildings, nursing homes, schools and shopping complexes and the oldest residential parts of the city.

"If we'd been stationed at Brassall or Ripley it would've taken us an extra four minutes to respond to a recent house fire in Thorn St. By the QFRS's own statements, an extra minute was the difference between two more homes in Thorn St being destroyed."

Mr Oliver said residents of Woodend, Sadliers Crossing, Coalfalls, Basin Pocket, One Mile and Leichhardt would also experience longer response times because of the new stations.

Police and Community Safety Minister Jack Dempsey responded angrily to Mr Oliver's claims.

"The bottom line is our government has delivered two brand new, world-class fire stations along with 16 additional firefighters to the Ipswich region," Mr Dempsey said.

"It is absolutely ludicrous for a union boss to claim new facilities and additional officers will somehow result in a reduction of services. What is blindingly obvious here is that John Oliver is trying desperately to hold on to his job following his bungling of the firefighters pay negotiations.

"The union is now suggesting its own members won't be able to meet performance targets despite having access to the best possible new facilities and an additional staffing complement. This is a slap in the face to all QFRS officers and shows the desperation of a union which has failed its membership.

"This is nothing more than a pathetic and failed attempt to draw attention away from the real issue. The union should focus on trying to sort out the mess it has dug its members into as opposed to making ridiculous claims which have no basis whatsoever."

He said the Limestone St station was almost 50 years old and the region had outgrown its capability.

"The new stations at Brassall and Ripley along with those at Camira, Bundamba and Karana Downs as well as auxiliary stations at Rosewood and Marburg will deliver residents in Ipswich and the surrounding area the best possible fire and rescue service," he said.

The Ripley station became operational last Wednesday and it was expected Brassall would be operational before the end of the month.



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