Twenty new firefighters set to hit the road from Townsville to Cairns and west to Mount Isa
Regional centres will benefit from the Palaszczuk Government’s $29 million commitment to deliver 100 new firefighting jobs in Queensland, Fire and Emergency Services Minister Craig Crawford said today (Friday).
Announcing where the first round of 62 new firefighters will be based under the “unprecedented” four-year commitment, Mr Crawford said 20 new firefighters would be based in communities from Townsville to Cairns, and west to Mount Isa.
“The Palaszczuk Government is committed to ensuring Queensland Fire and Emergency Services (QFES) has the personnel, infrastructure and equipment to deliver enhanced services and support,” Mr Crawford said.
“We reaffirmed this commitment to Queensland communities in this year’s record $702 million QFES Budget, and now we are delivering on our election promise to boost frontline services in these areas.
“Eight firefighters will be based in Townsville, five in Cairns, three on the Tablelands, two in Innisfail and one each in Charters Towers and Mount Isa – where $2.1 million has been allocated to complete the upgrade of a permanent-auxiliary fire and rescue station, and to commence replacement of the combined area office and the Rural Fire Service and State Emergency Services facility,” he said.
Mr Crawford said the allocation of the firefighting positions had been determined based on QFES’ operational response priorities.
“These additional firefighters will go a long way towards boosting frontline services and we will continue working with the QFES Commissioner Katarina Carroll and stakeholders regarding the deployment of the remaining 38 recruits – to ensure QFES has the resources it needs to keep Queenslanders safe,” he said.
Mr Crawford said the Palaszczuk Government was delivering on yet another election promise, by funding an additional 12 fire communications officers at yet-to-be-confirmed locations.
“Once again, the QFES Commissioner will determine where these officers will be best placed to serve Queensland communities.”
Member for Mundingburra Coralee O’Rourke said the Palaszczuk Government’s record QFES 2018-19 Budget invested $82.3 million for fire and emergency services facilities, vehicles, information and communication systems and equipment.
“Regional centres across Queensland are continuing to grow, so it is only fitting more frontline firefighting staff are sent to these areas to meet demand,” she said.
Member for Townsville Scott Stewart said the additional resources would contribute to the ongoing success of Queensland Fire and Emergency Services (QFES).
“This investment will help build on the first-class work already being undertaken by emergency services personnel,” he said.
Member for Thuringowa Aaron Harper said: “As a former emergency services officer of 25 years, these new Officers will be a welcome addition to boost local QFES staff numbers in Townsville, and more broadly North Qld who rely upon QFES for assistance particularly during cyclone and flood season.”
Speaker of the Queensland Parliament and Member for Mulgrave Curtis Pitt said the additional firefighters were on top of a $6.5 million emergency services Budget boost for Far North Queensland.
Mr Pitt said $2.5 million had been committed to upgrade Cairns’ Queensland Fire and Emergency Services (QFES) Communications Centre, and another $4 million for a combined Rural Fire Service (RFS) and State Emergency Service (SES) facility on Horn Island, and Disaster and Emergency Management Centre in Weipa.
“The state’s far north is no stranger to severe weather and it is important QFES has the support to effectively respond to any emergencies,” he said. “Work is expected to start on these QFES facilities this financial year under this Budget commitment”.
Member for Cairns Michael Healy said the QFES’ Communications Centre in Cairns was a vital hub that “delivered first-class support to our frontline firefighters.”
“Plans for the $2.5 million upgrade of the Communications Centre have been developed and are undergoing a consultation process,” he said.
“Construction of the new communications centre – to be incorporated into the overall design of the AS facility – is expected to begin in June 2019.”
Member for Cook Cynthia Lui said the $2.8 million combined facility on Horn Island would support the community during severe weather events.
“The combined rescue facility on Horn Island will enhance local emergency response and provide a solid base of operations for volunteers,” she said.
“Capital works initiatives like this, are crucial for the community, particularly those in isolated areas.”
On top of the new firefighters, Mr Crawford said QFES would be deploying 180 new urban and rural fire appliances (119 for the Rural Fire Service, and 61 for Fire and Rescue) across the state under a 2018-19 $44.3 million Budget commitment.
“This will mean the Palaszczuk Government will have delivered more than 280 new QFES appliances over the past two financial years,” Mr Crawford said.
“More than 100 new fire appliances were rolled out in the 2017-18 financial year under a $40 million Palaszczuk Government commitment to renew QFES’ fleet.
“Eight of the 44 appliances delivered to Fire and Rescue Crews under the 2017-18 fleet renewal program, and nine of the 62 delivered to the Rural Fire Service, were in the Northern and Far Northern Regions,” he said.