Newman promises better deal for rural firefighters
QUEENSLAND'S rural firefighters have welcomed a review which promises to deliver more support and equipment for the 34,000 volunteers who protect homes and properties every week.
Premier Campbell Newman released the findings of the review conducted by the Assistant Minister for Emergency Volunteers, Ted Malone a short time ago.
Mr Newman said it contained 91 recommendations regarding the structure, function, leadership and funding of the Rural Fire Service.
Some major findings from the Malone Review include:
· Rural fire to be established as a separate entity named the Rural Fire Service Queensland, reporting directly to a Deputy Commissioner
· A new focus on land management and mitigation at the local level
· Fire management groups in each rural fire district
· Retention of existing paid staff in support units and in district offices
· The reduction of red tape and bureaucracy
The Rural Fire Brigades Association of Queensland welcomes outcomes
"With over 34,000 volunteer fire-fighters in over 1,400 Rural Fire Brigades, the Rural Fire Service Queensland is the largest, organised and locally based emergency response and recovery organisation in the state, the RFBAQ said.
"The implementation of the Malone Review will see Rural Fire Brigades empowered to meet their local risk and need, and a return to the core belief of Rural Fire Brigades which is "neighbour helping neighbour".
"Volunteer fire-fighters are the local butchers, bakers, graziers and candlestick makers who band together to form their local Rural Fire Brigades.
"They train together, democratically elect their officers, conduct hazard reduction burning and when there is a fire or any other threat they leave their families and fight to protect their communities together; all without being paid.
"This is the strength of volunteer brigades not just in Queensland, but across the whole of Australia, where there are over 230,000 volunteer fire-fighters.''
The RFBAQ encourage all volunteer fire-fighters who may have left previously to "come back to your brigade", as now is the opportunity to rebuild a service that reflects the needs of your individual communities.
QLD RFS Review Fast Facts
• All RFS District Offices will remain open
• All RFS District Office staff positions will remain
• District Inspectors will now be empowered to support their brigades and volunteers
(District delegations will be greatly increased with most decisions made locally)
• The RFSQ will be led by a Deputy Chief Officer, Rural Fire Service Queensland (the RFSQ will be a separate organisation from the Urban Fire Service)
• Brigades and volunteers will be able to access more and a wider range of training (including 4wd, truck licences, chainsaw, first aid and the ability for recognition of prior learning and including skills portability from SES and other volunteer services)
• Existing BSO's will be attached to District Offices with flexibility to meet local need (over time the role will be extended to all District Inspectors Offices with role flexibility identified against local needs)
• There will be three Regional Offices within the RFSQ (District delegations will be greatly increased with most decisions made locally)
• Equipment and trucks will be designed to meet local needs incorporating local volunteer knowledge and requirements
• Red tape reduction will see Volunteers and Brigades using simple, workable, reporting and financial forms and induction processes
Premier Campbell Newman said: "Ted Malone and his team have proposed a new direction for rural fire services in Queensland and we would like to work with volunteers and stakeholders to ensure we have got it right.''
"While this work is ongoing, the Queensland Fire and Rescue Service Rural Operations division would be renamed Rural Fire Service Queensland and would report directly to a Deputy Commissioner.
"This, along with other recommendations, will give rural firefighters a much greater say in future operations."
Minister for Police and Community Safety Jack Dempsey said recommendations in the report which dealt with structural changes would be considered in the context of the review into Police and Emergency Services currently being conducted by Mr Michael Keelty.
"This will ensure that full consideration is given to how the rural fire service can best work with other emergency services and vice versa," Mr Dempsey said.
"Once recommendations are reviewed and implemented I have no doubt Queensland will have the best structure in place to allow our 34,000 volunteers to get on with the job they signed up to do - and that's protect their communities."
Mr Malone thanked the rural fire service volunteers and staff who went out of their way to attend public meetings and provide written submissions to the review.
"I met with more than 1,000 volunteers and staff and we received more than 240 written submissions to this review," Mr Malone said.
"My recommendations are aimed at increasing local engagement and decision making at the local level and properly recognising the excellent work conducted by rural fire service volunteers and staff across 93 per cent of the state.
"I believe the recommendations will be well received by the rural fire service community and I look forward to making the rural fire service an organisation all Queenslanders can be proud of."