Min­is­ter re­jects claims Air­lie Beach fire sta­tion is un­der-staffed

Whitsunday Times - - LOCAL NEWS -

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.”

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