Call to re­spect ex­pert ad­vice of lo­cal fireys

Tablelands Advertiser - - NEWS - Kather­ine Kokko­nen

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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