Trevor Rowe, First Officer for the Mount Larcom/Ambrose Rural Fire Brigade has been in some hot spots recently.
Trevor Rowe, First Officer for the Mount Larcom/Ambrose Rural Fire Brigade has been in some hot spots recently. Chrissy Harris

Firies are fighting fatigue

RURAL firefighters are waging their biggest battle yet - exhaustion.

The recent spate of fires in the Gladstone region have seen rural firies stretched to their limit, with units attending more than 40 blazes since the fire season began a few weeks ago.

Mt Larcom first officer, Trevor Rowe, said the situation would be greatly assisted if people were more prepared.

"People have been saying for three, four, five months now that this fire season is going to be a big one," he said.

"But people haven't prepared their properties for it, haven't put in fire breaks or anything - it's disappointing."

The frequency of fires has seen rural firefighting units called out to incidents every day, leaving little time for maintenance and other tasks.

"Things are hectic at the moment and we're all exhausted," Mr Rowe said. "We've only had two days away from the fire (in recent weeks) and there are still other things to do, like truck repairs and so on.

"It's just been one fire after the other. We're always busy doing something."

Mr Rowe said the situation is only going to get worse.

"In two months it's going to be a lot hotter," he said.

"It's only going to get more hectic."

One of the biggest problems facing rural firefighters is a shortage of volunteers.

"We have a lot of members, but most of them work," he said. "There's a limited few who are able to attend the fires every day during working hours, and those few who are able to make it, they are stretched to the limit.

"At the moment I would describe (condition) as mentally and physically exhausted."

Mr Rowe implored those with properties at risk of fire to not assume that a fire "just won't happen to them".


My risk?

  • Do you live within a few kilometres of bushland?
  • Does your local area have a bushfire history?
  • Is your home built on a slope?

If you answered yes to one or more of these questions, then your property could be at risk this fire season.

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