‘Ghost' crews raise alarm

A FIRE station with one crew in a booming city like Gladstone is risky, unfair and fails to meet safety standards, Member for Gladstone Liz Cunningham told Parliament last week.

Mrs Cunningham claimed Gladstone was one of three 24-hour fire stations in the state with a single crew.

"Currently, Gladstone turns out, in many instances, I understand, with ghost crewing and this fails in every measure to cover any standard of safety," she told Parliament. Back in Gladstone, Mrs Cunningham challenged recent comments made by Queensland Fire and Rescue Service assistant commissioner Neil Gallant that the Gladstone station had sufficient officers available to respond to emergencies.

Mr Gallant said Gladstone staffing levels met national standards. His statement was supported by Emergency Services Minister Neil Roberts.

"He (Mr Gallant) is wrong - and you can put that in big letters," Mrs Cunningham said.

She said the station might have eight vehicles but most were useless should there be an emergency, because of the lack of crews to man them.

Mrs Cunningham told the House that although the Gladstone station had eight trucks on the floor, only two could be used at any one time.

"Safe manning in the fire-fighting industry is recognised as four - two with breathing apparatus, one fire floor manager and one driver and pump operator."

Inspector Wayne Larkin, of Gladstone Command, confirmed last week that the Gladstone station operated with just one crew.

Auxiliary forces from Gladstone, Agnes Water, Calliope and Boyne Island support the station.

Mrs Cunningham said the population growth of the Gladstone area was well known and that, in addition, between 10,000 and 15,000 people would be living in work camps to meet the needs of the industries.

"... Having one crew in Gladstone - with the population growth as it is, the risk profile that exists in that region and the potential call-out rates and risk rates for those fire-fighters - is unfair."

She said Gladstone needed a second crew.

Mrs Cunningham said her information was that crewing in the Gladstone region was based on fire levies gained from the domestic areas, which meant most of the big industries were not included in the levies.

Only Queensland Alumina Ltd and Boyne Smelters Ltd among the big industries fall within the domestic areas.

However, the Gladstone station would still have to respond to fires in industries outside the levy area.

Mrs Cunningham said she expected a reply from the Minister on October 8.

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