Topics:  bundaberg fire brigade, fire season, volunteer fire service

Firies raise the alarm

CALL UP: Tirroan Rural Fire Brigade first officer Les Gane is seeking volunteers.
CALL UP: Tirroan Rural Fire Brigade first officer Les Gane is seeking volunteers. Scottie Simmonds

RURAL fire brigades across the Bundaberg region have put out a call to arms for fit and able volunteers in anticipation of a potentially devastating fire season.

Steady rainfall during the past two years has ensured prolific green growth in the Bundaberg region, which poses a fire threat.

But volunteer fire brigades in regional areas have suffered a steady decline in volunteer numbers over the past few years.

The situation reached a crisis point in Gin Gin last month when the rural fire brigade was forced to temporarily disband until more volunteers were found.

Tirroan Rural Fire Brigade first officer Les Gane is in command of a sprawling 550sq km area of land, including the isolated hills of the Doughboy region near Horsecamp.

Mr Gane said many rural fire brigade volunteers were looking towards the approaching fire season with a sense of dread because of a lack of personnel.

"Without enough people on the books, our volunteers often have to do extended hours and work far more and far longer than they should have to," he said.

"It increases the risk of fatigue. If people work extended hours, their clarity of thought and judgment is impaired and they get run down and worn out."

Gin Gin Rural Fire Brigade first officer Lyn Byrne said it was imperative the regional station secured new volunteers before the beginning of the fire season.

"We've got a fully equipped shed here with nobody in it and two trucks we've got nobody to crew," he said.

The official start of the fire season in the Bundaberg region is August, but in frost-prone areas such as Gin Gin and Tirroan, volunteer fire fighters ramp up their operations early.

Mr Byrne said an abundance of green growth encouraged by strong rainfall could make for a disastrous fire season under the right conditions.

"The only word we could use to describe the coming fire season is horrendous," he said.

"There are areas that are green that haven't had a blade of grass on them in more than 20 years."

Queensland Fire and Rescue Service rural operations area director of Bundaberg Tony Johnstone said volunteering with a rural fire brigade was a good way to meet new people and give back to the community.

"Our volunteers develop a broad range of new life skills and gain skills they may otherwise not have had," he said.

To find out more about volunteering at a rural fire brigade, phone 4153 3244.

BY THE NUMBERS

88

Number of rural fire brigades in the Bundaberg region, taking in the Bundaberg and North Burnett regional council areas

2432

Number of rural fire brigade volunteers in the region

132

Number of fire wardens in the region


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