Previously, firefighters had a single state-of-the-art appliance to respond to HAZMAT, technical rescue and fire incidents.
Previously, firefighters had a single state-of-the-art appliance to respond to HAZMAT, technical rescue and fire incidents. John Leask

Public 'at risk' without additional HAZMAT truck crew: Firie

IPSWICH firefighters are struggling to respond to hazardous incidents, with a lack of available crew to drive the station's specialist truck.

A Bundamba firefighter, who spoke anonymously to offer a candid assessment, says the public is being put at risk by a lack of available staff.

Previously, firefighters had a single state-of-the-art appliance to respond to HAZMAT, technical rescue and fire incidents.

That vehicle was replaced with a new Lima truck earlier this year, which can only respond to fire and rescue jobs.

"The capability of being able to respond to hazardous material incidents has been pretty well taken away," the firefighter said.

A HAZMAT truck is available at Bundamba, but no firefighters can staff it when the main pumper is in use.

The danger came to fruition last week when firefighters were called to Lowood after school students were affected by an unknown substance.

With the main pumper at Beenleigh for a changeover, no firefighters were able to take the Bundamba HAZMAT truck to the school.

"We've got the hardware, but no people to drive to jobs," the firefighter said.

Paramedics took several children to Ipswich Hospital.

A Queensland Fire and Emergency Services spokesman said first arriving crews had sufficient resources to respond and manage the incident. "A HAZMAT crew was requested to provide additional support," he said.

"The HAZMAT truck at Bundamba was unavailable due to crews undertaking a vehicle changeover in another area.

"QFES has contingencies in place for instances such as this to ensure service delivery is maintained to the community.

"This includes a staffing model to provide sufficient staff for specialist vehicles such as HAZMAT trucks and strategically locating these vehicles in a number of locations to be called upon when required."

The spokesman confirmed a truck was requested from a neighbouring region.

A new truck is expected to be allocated to Bundamba station in mid-2019.