Minister rejects claims Airlie Beach fire station is under-staffed
QUEENSLAND’s Minister for Community Safety Jack Dempsey has rejected claims by the United Firefighters Union Queensland (UFUQ) that risky response times in Airlie Beach are being covered up by the fire service.
UFUQ state secretary John Oliver claims there are numerous examples where the Queensland Fire and Rescue Service (QFRS) took over 40 minutes to respond to emergencies.
“Airlie Beach has an average response time of 16 minutes according to the fire service’s own documents, which is two and a half times the standard,” Mr Oliver said. Mr. Oliver also said there were only four full-time firefighters rostered on at any one time during business hours. “The station is not staffed after hours, so firefighters have to be paged for duty when there is an emergency,” he said.
Mr Oliver claims if there was a fire in Airlie Beach and a traffic accident at the same time “our members would have to decide which job they’d go to first”.
His solution is for the State Government to employ another crew in Airlie Beach and build another fully crewed station at Cannonvale.
Mr Dempsey, while acknowledging the hard work of Whitsunday firefighters, said he regularly spoke with the QFRS commissioner regarding staffing levels, which he was assured were “adequate”.
“In 2012-13 the Airlie Beach Fire and Rescue Station were called out just 201 times, an average of less than 17 times per month. On average, the station’s response times are better than the set state target,” he said.
“Airlie Beach is currently crewed five days per week by the permanent staff. At other times the 19 auxiliary fire officers are available to be called for any incident.”