Hopes burn as we miss budget cash

COST-CUTTING measures will force the closure of two offices that organise safety training and logistical support for rural firefighters.

Six full-time and three part-time staff from both offices in Maryborough will lose their jobs, Peter Hollier, superintendent of the Maryborough Regional Office, said.

The Maryborough District Office and the Maryborough Regional Office will close next March.

Supt Hollier said his office has control over operations on the Fraser Coast, Bundaberg and the Sunshine Coast.

A spokesman for Emergency Services Minister Jack Dempsey, said the decision was made by the Queensland Fire and Rescue Service.

"Over a number of years, the amount of volunteers remained stable, but the number of paid positions doubled," he said.

The spokesman said removing the regional and district offices would return power and responsibilities to the individual rural fire brigades.

"They don't need head office telling them what they can and can't do," he said.

Justin Choveaux, chief executive officer of the Rural Fire Brigades Association Queensland, was outraged by the decision.

Mr Choveaux said the district office provided specialist training for rural firefighters such as how to survive in a bushfire if something went wrong.

He said the office also co-ordinated various rural fire brigades across the area if a massive bushfire required all firefighters working for extended periods.

"If there is a big fire in Takura, for example, and you need as many firefighters there as possible, it would be this office that arranges it," he said.

The regional office performs a similar role on a larger scale.

Mr Choveaux said the volunteers at the brigades had enough demands on their time without having to take on responsibility for training and logistical support.

"If we lose support and training, then we will lose volunteers," he said.

Mr Choveaux called on the community make contact with their local state member of parliament, the council and even their federal MPs to voice their opposition to the cuts.

"There can be no negotiation on this. The decision must be overturned," he said.

The spokesman for Mr Dempsey stressed that the closures would not take place until next March, after the bushfire season.



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