Unanimous vote to form volunteer fire brigade

Redlands residents living in high fire risk areas of the city have voted unanimously to form a rural fire brigade in the Mount Cotton/Sheldon area.

More than 100 landowners attending a public meeting on Sunday endorsed a move to seek registration of a new volunteer brigade by the Queensland Fire and Emergency Services (QFES).

The meeting heard that Mt Cotton and surrounds were considered among the highest fire risk areas in Queensland.

Mayor Karen Williams, who hosted the meeting, said Redland City had a number of areas vulnerable to fire and preparedness was very important.

“A volunteer fire brigade can help you be prepared, and that is why we are here today,” she said.

“For a brigade to be formed it needs will and commitment; there is clearly the interest judging from the roll-up today.”

Redland City Division 6 Councillor Julie Talty said she had been approached by many residents concerned about fire risk.

“A lot of work has been done by Council on fire modelling and looking at fire and disaster planning,” she said.

“Redlands is recognised as having one of the best disaster management hubs in Queensland but this area is at high risk of fire and we need to be prepared.

“Fire mapping clearly shows the Mt Cotton and neighbouring areas as high risk. We border on 1000ha of fuel and landowners need to be supported.”

Redland City Council Service Manager Disaster Planning and Operations Mike Lollback said he had never seen such a swell of community support for action.

Mr Lollback said recent history of fires on North Stradbroke Island highlighted the fire risk and the need for communities to take steps to protect themselves.

“I am confident the urban fire brigades in the city have the capacity to deal with fires but the more arrows you have in the quiver the better. A rural fire brigade would be another option,” he said.

“The most vulnerable area in the region is right here. You are not here just because it is a good idea (to form a rural fire brigade). You are here because you live in a vulnerable area.

“We are not the final decision-makers (on whether a brigade is registered) but we can take the strong views of this meeting forward to the Fire Commissioner.”

Rural Fire Brigades Association of Queensland General Manager Justin Choveaux said the meeting resolution was a first.

“No-one has ever voted to start a rural fire brigade in a 24-hour station area,” he said.

“Community defence is not red (urban fire) versus yellow (rural brigade) trucks. The brigade would be a complementary stream. You have the local knowledge and you know what is required.”

Mr Choveaux outlined to the meeting the role of rural fire brigades and volunteers, and the process for registration of a new brigade.

“There are 1441 rural fire brigades across the state.  They are volunteer brigades that meet their communities’ needs,” he said.

“What brigades do varies from place to place and community to community.

“In Queensland the property-owner has responsibility to mitigate fire risk. Brigades are a support mechanism for people to manage that risk.”

As a result of the unanimous resolution, a formal request will be sent to Fire Commissioner Katarina Carroll seeking registration of a brigade. If granted, the inaugural meeting will be held and the search begin for a “home” for the brigade and plans to fund-raise will be discussed.