State burns firies' redundancy plans
IN what has been described as a major breakthrough on the eve of a "horror fire season", Community Safety Minister Jack Dempsey has promised to formally rescind any redundancy letters that went to paid staff in the Rural Fire Service.
Rural firefighters were outraged this month last year when the Queensland Fire and Rescue Service told staff more than half the 115 paid jobs would be culled, including 45 uniformed officers and a further 15 administrative staff.
The LNP government did a quick backflip and put all redundancies on hold until the completion of two reviews into the fire service's operations.
Mr Dempsey said he would personally ensure the people who believed their positions would be made redundant had their minds appeased through letters in the mail.
The minister met on Friday with the Rural Fire Brigade Association Queensland president Mike Garrahy, who said the decision would boost morale and mean a lot to the 34,000 volunteers the paid staff helped.
"The paid staff are held in such high respect by the volunteers that they demanded we make an approach in relation to the matter," Mr Garrahy said.
"We have a horror fire season coming, it's going to be a shocker.
"We need those paid staff who have the experience of working beside volunteers and who have the experience in volunteer culture to ensure their safety and, operationally, to get the best result for a community that we can.
"I've sadly been there, I've seen part of my town (Crows Nest) incinerated (in 2004) and hundreds of volunteers came.
"But for those hundreds of volunteers to come we need the paid staff with a rural land management background who the volunteers trusts."
Critics of the latest Keelty review fear the government will dump regional fire communication centres in favour of a giant metropolitan hub.
While Mr Dempsey said he could not confirm that would happen, because the recommendation is now before a steering committee, he said he believed the restructure was more about improving antiquated communication equipment and ensuring the latest technology was available across the service.
He said they would also set up district fire management systems to ensure government did not work as silos during significant events.