Call to respect expert advice of local fireys
AN experienced rural firefighter has called for governments and urban crews to have higher regard for local volunteer firefighters.
The Minister for Police, Fire and Emergency Services, Mark Ryan, visited Koah Hall on Wednesday to thank volunteers for their hard work during bushfires at Clohesy River earlier this month.
John Thomson, who is the Speewah fire warden and Rural Fire Brigades Association Queensland senior vice president, said better co-ordination between volunteers who were on the ground and officers in control rooms would result in more effective processes during bushfires.
“Those permanent officers, at times, know very little about wildfire and tend to alter the firefighting activities of the personnel at the fire front, which isn’t good,” he said.
“Leave the rural fireys look after rural fires.
“They’re local and they’re volunteers and they know their patch and a lot of them have been fighting fires for the last 30 or 40 years.
“If we needed it, we would ask for help.”
Mr Thomson will celebrate 50 years of being a volunteer firefighter next March.
He said knowledge from local volunteers was being overlooked, as well as their activities being undervalued.
Mr Thomson said relying on helicopters was an example of expensive and sometimes unnecessary measures being taken by people who were not on the frontline.
“It costs mega barrels of money and they seem to want to use them more than firebreaks, backburning and the normal activities of a rural fire brigade,” he said.
“I’m glad Mr Ryan is visiting because I hope it will give him an understanding of what we do.”
Mr Ryan paid tribute to the wider community and especially volunteer firefighters from the Speewah, Kuranda, Myola and Davies Creek Rural Fire Brigades.
He said while he had only had the portfolio for about six weeks, Mr Ryan valued having the chance to meet frontline volunteers and hear first-hand what they needed.
“I know you do it because this is your community and you want to care for your community,” he said.
“But I think you also want to do it because you want to give something back and I think we all feel uplifted when we’re giving something back.
“Through that, not only are we making our communities better places, but I think we’re also encouraging other people in our communities to get involved and contribute.”
They’re local and they’re volunteers and they know their patch and a lot of them have been fighting fires for the last 30 or 40 years. Speewah fire warden and Rural Fire Brigades Association Queensland senior vice president John Thomson
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