Prevent assaults on firies
WHEN a Bundaberg firefighter was allegedly attacked while trying to put out a blaze near Gin Gin last year, it was the last straw for his union.
In October, a 33-year-old man was charged with several offences after allegedly pushing a log at a rural fire service officer, striking him on the forehead.
United Firefighters Union state secretary Jamie Hawkins has called for the state government to launch an awareness campaign to stop officers being assaulted while on duty.
“We want advertising in all media to let the public know the legislation has been changed so attacks on firefighters could lead to a jail term of up to seven years,” he said.
“It’s our opinion firefighters are the finest body of men and women in the state and they shouldn’t have to put up with that sort of nonsense.”
Mr Hawkins said during the course of their work, firefighters often found themselves outside hotels or party scenes, and their main problem was with people who were affected by drugs or alcohol.
“We don’t want to get to the point where we have to take self-defence courses,” he said.
Mr Hawkins said he believed attacks on firefighters were increasing.
“Certainly over the past five years, there has been a slow increase in that sort of thing.” Mr Hawkins said he accepted emotions ran high at events such as house fires or car accidents, but that was not a problem.
“Our people are trained to deal with that,” he said.
The Queensland Fire and Rescue Service (QFRS) had zero tolerance for people who threatened or attacked firefighters in the course of their duty, a spokesman said yesterday.
QFRS acting deputy commissioner Mark Roche said any act of assault, whether verbal or physical, against a firefighter was shocking and inexcusable.
“All employees and volunteers are strongly encouraged to report assaults to the Queensland Police Service, and will be fully supported by the QFRS in progressing such matters,” Mr Roche said.