A comprehensive report by Queensland Fire and Emergency Services (QFES), presented formally to Council on 26 July made many recommendations but did not suggest the need for establishment of a Rural Fire Brigade (RFB) for mainland Redland City.
In a letter dated 21 July (but only recently made publicly available) the QFES Commissioner advised Mayor Karen Williams that:
- QFES has decided not to establish a new Rural Fire Brigade on mainland Redland City
- QFES will work with Council to support bushfire education and hazard mitigation activities with residents in the Mount Cotton area.
The Commissioner said that existing services could manage the threat of bushfires:
As you are aware QFES has existing capacity and capability from both the Fire and Rescue stations and nearby RFBs to manage the threat of bushfire, not only in the Mount Cotton area but also across the mainland areas of Redland City.
Despite this clear expert advice, local councillor Julie Talty (Division 6) has been agitating for establishment of a mainland RFB which would require imposition of a financial levy on all mainland ratepayers. In a recent post on her Facebook page she said:
So, council votes in support of putting a $20 per house levy on every house in the Redlands in order to plant another 1,000,000 trees, but refuses to add $2 per house in order to manage the fire risk with the help of a Mainland Rural Fire Brigade Service to help with education, planning and mitigation. So now it’s official, after three years of work by local residents in support of gaining a brigade, the QFES has decided in accordance with Council’s decision there will be no Mainland Rural Fire Service.
Other councillors have rejected the need for levying ratepayers to establish a mainland RFB.
Deputy Mayor Wendy Boglary said:
Recently there has been discussions concerning a Rural Fire Brigade in the Mt Cotton area. Councillors supported an investigation into the need and workshops were held.
We also asked for the Queensland Fire Service Representatives to address councillors with their professional opinion .
The cost for a Rural Brigade for the Mount Cotton area was too great so it was then increased to a Rural Service for the whole of the mainland however the professional opinion was that Redlands mainland was adequately covered by the existing services.
If there is a Fire anywhere in Redlands a Rural Fire Brigade is not the initial call. It is the urban Fire Stations that are the first respondents and Redlands three Stations, Capalaba, Cleveland and Redland Bay to cover Redlands so no one is at risk.
Rural Fire Brigades can be called up to assist residents, education and can be back up for an urban station. At present this is all covered so the professional Queensland Fire Department t opinion is that there is no need to have Fire levy on Redlands residents to fund an unnecessary service.
It is not that councillors didn’t support, the fact is councillors researched, listened to the experts, learnt and once informed made their decision.
Below is a letter dated the 21st July , which councillors only received yesterday after I requested for any information that had formally come from the QFES, that states the professional QFES position that a Rural Fire Brigade is not required.
My decision was based on facts and not political pressure or agendas and I remain focussed on supporting the community basing my decisions on researched facts .
As Chair of Local Disaster Recovery , a position I take seriously and am actively involved in, I have already held discussions about the recent Fire Report which is on our next Local Disaster Committee meeting agenda. There were numerous actions that arose from the report , many of which Council was already doing or has now initiated. I can assure residents this report will be discussed in detail and I have several suggestions to make at this meeting to increase our management not just in Fire mitigation but also storm, flood , accidents and even to increase safety on our beaches especially during holiday seasons .
Our emergency services, including our local SES, do an amazing job and I have full confidence in their advice and competency .
Councillor Lance Hewlett said:
Thank you Deputy Mayor Wendy Boglary for finally uncovering the facts on the “suggestion” that ratepayers (via another levy) foot the bill for a mainland Rural Fire Brigade. The Commissioner herself confirms it is NOT Needed.
Councillor Paul Golle had some interesting comments on the time taken for the Commissioner’s letter to be made available
QEFS letter advising no need for a Rural Fire Brigade