Queensland Emergency Volunteers Assistant Minister Ted Malone (from Sarina - in navy suit) and Rural Fire Brigade Association president Mike Garrahy (from Toowoomba - blue uniform on right) meeting with rural firefighters. Photo: Contributed
Queensland Emergency Volunteers Assistant Minister Ted Malone (from Sarina - in navy suit) and Rural Fire Brigade Association president Mike Garrahy (from Toowoomba - blue uniform on right) meeting with rural firefighters. Photo: Contributed

Rural firefighters to get a Deputy Commissioner

QUEENSLAND'S rural firefighters soon will have their own Deputy Commissioner to bat for them when issues arise and co-ordinate their response during disasters.

Queensland Emergency Volunteers Assistant Minister Ted Malone said he expected the selection process to be finalised in January and someone in the position in February.

The appointment was one of the 91 recommendations Mr Malone made during a review of the volunteer rural fire service last year.

Mr Malone said this would be a crucial appointment and meant a lot to rural firies.

"The real problem is that the rural firefighters feel they're not being valued in terms of partnerships with them and government and between peers in the urban fire service," he said.

"The government through the Deputy Commissioner wants to ensure our volunteers are empowered and respected and able to work with their communities … to be stronger if there is a disaster or major fire.

"It's about giving volunteers that respect and support they need in those difficult times."

The person chosen will also oversee other volunteer organisations such as the volunteer marine rescue, lifesavers, coastguard, SES, Red Cross and others.

One prime requisite is that this person has first-hand knowledge of working with volunteers, particularly with rural firies, and how to reduce fuel outside the fire season.

"One of the most important things is to ensure we have control over our wild fires," Mr Malone said.

"This person will implement the early burning and elimination of risk across communities."

Mr Malone said Queensland rural firies did have their own commissioner about 20 years ago but that had changed over time.

He said the Malone Review Working Group had made its way through 43 of the 91 recommendations but there were some difficult ones still to work through.

Mr Malone said one of the biggest yet to complete was setting up fire management groups throughout Queensland.

He said these groups would co-operate with councils, forestry, roads and other departments which have management control over land in their regional areas.

"They will decide areas of risk over the next fire season, document it and, from that mosaic, will work out a Queensland Fire Mitigation Plan," he said.

"Even though there's been an embryo of that type of planning in Queensland, it's never grown up.

"Queensland would be the first state in Australia that is endeavouring to do that."



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