No RFS offices to close

THE Rural Fire Service has claimed a win in the battle with the State Government over plans to close regional offices and overhaul the organisation's structure.

Emergency Services Minister Jack Dempsey attracted heavy criticism recently when he outlined plans to amalgamate some of the rural fire service regions in Queensland and close several offices, including in Maryborough, Emerald and Maroochydore.

The Rural Fire Brigades Association of Queensland argued the closure of offices would leave huge parts of the state without a base.

The association stated the closure of Roma and Toowoomba offices would mean no base for rural fire brigades from Toowoomba to the Northern Territory and South Australian borders.

After negotiations with the RFBAQ, Mr Dempsey announced on Thursday that no offices would close.

But jobs would still be lost.

"Unfortunately, as a part of this process, there will be a reduction in the number of full-time equivalent positions, but this will be limited to executive and administration areas," he said.

"I stress, though, that no adjustments to the rural operations structure will take place until after the fire season in March 2013."

Mr Dempsey was forced to apologise to the RFBAQ last week after a memo outlining the controversial changes was released prematurely.

Mirani MP Ted Malone will head a ministerial review into the Rural Fire Service to assess the future of the volunteer-based organisation.

RFBAQ president Mike Garrahy said the earlier proposal to close area offices in Emerald, Charters Towers, Innisfail, and Maryborough would not go ahead.

"This allows rural fire brigades to have support and certainty going into the worst bushfire season in more than 40 years."



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