Fireys, barred from fighting fires, spark election row
A rural fire brigade which has no fire truck, no paid fire fighters and no shed, is at the centre of a major election stoush in one of the state's most marginal seats.
The Brisbane Region Headquarters Rural Fire Brigade, which has 72 volunteers, has become the centre of an election funding war between LNP and ALP candidates in the seat of Springwood.
The seat covers the semirural Mount Cotton, which has no fire brigade of its own and where residents have been calling for their own service complete with its own fire truck.
The election wrangle started after LNP candidate for the seat Kirrily Boulton promised $500,000 to upgrade the volunteer brigade to allow its members to fight fires at Mount Cotton, a known bushland fire hot spot.
She said it was ridiculous the volunteers were being trained but had no fire truck and were not going to be called to fight major fires.
"With more than 1000 hectares of fuel load in Mt Cotton and the surrounding suburbs, it is essential that our Volunteer Rural Fire Brigade has the equipment and the support to protect homes and businesses from fire," Ms Boulton said.
"The LNP has been fighting for years to establish a Volunteer Rural Fire Brigade to protect Mt Cotton from bushfire.
"Labor's response was to make this the only Volunteer Rural Fire Brigade in Queensland that is not allowed to fight fires.
"In a nation that was devastated by bushfire last summer, this is a sick joke.
"I will ensure the communities of Mt Cotton, Shailer Park and Daisy Hill have a trained and ready Volunteer Rural Fire Brigade, who can do exactly what they signed up for, and that is protect our communities from bushfire."
Ms Boulton accused the state government of cutting $6.4 million out of the rural fire brigade budget over the past two years and only meeting 54 per cent of the hazard reduction burning targets between 2016-19.
She said the state government had built 40 per cent fewer new fire breaks and cut bushfire education by 45 per cent.
Springwood MP Mick de Brenni, who promised a fire truck in November, said the state had already done some backburning before the bushfire season and a professional force, not a volunteer brigade, was the best protection for Mount Cotton.
For more than two years, he has been asked to fund a Mount Cotton service and has now committed to buying a fire truck along with providing the volunteers with the necessary education.
He said 69 volunteers from the community were already signed up to join the Brisbane Region Headquarters Rural Fire Brigade and had started training.
He said the state government would supply all equipment and vehicles once that training was completed.
"Queensland Fire and Emergency Services has a strong program of fire mitigation which adds to the volunteer efforts in our community," he said.
"But the best protection for our community has to be our dedicated full time professional firefighters who service our region."
The suburb was mentioned as one of five areas in Logan and Redland named as hot spots by the Rural Fire Service.
Greens candidate Kirsty Petersen said her party wanted to increase funding to the Rural Fire Service by $75 million over three years and to rural fire brigades from $185,000 to $5 million a year.
Originally published as Fireys, barred from fighting fires, spark election row