Government fail leaves Qld in bushfire danger zone

The State Government looks set to miss a crucial bushfire mitigation target for the fifth year in a row amid concerns there aren't enough firefighters to do the work.

The extraordinary revelation joins new warnings of "above normal fire potential" across the state between September and November.

The Courier-Mail can reveal of the 413 planned hazard reduction activities, which largely consists of controlled burns, about 274 were undertaken.

The Government also looks set to miss its target of 153 planned upgrades which includes fire break upgrades, as part of Operation Cool Burn, which typically extends from April to August.

And just 130 of 153 planned community education activities were undertaken.

A Queensland Fire and Emergency Services spokesperson said QFES continued to receive reports about recently completed activities, with the figures to rise.

Fire and Emergency Services Minister Craig Crawford. Picture: Kevin Farmer
Fire and Emergency Services Minister Craig Crawford. Picture: Kevin Farmer

It comes nine months after The Courier-Mail revealed the Government had failed to meet its targets for the previous four years.

United Firefighters Union Queensland general secretary John Oliver said according to experts, the window of opportunity to conduct the burns was shortening.

"We don't have enough firefighters to do that work," he said.

Mr Oliver said there needed to be a systematic approach to hazard reduction burns across the state.

Queensland Fire and Emergency Services officers undertake controlled burning across the state as part of Operation Cool Burn.

In 2019, just 117 of the 168 planned burns were completed.

Fire and Emergency Services Minister Craig Crawford said QFES had worked harder than ever before to prepare Queensland for this year's bushfire season.

"2020 Operation Cool Burn means Queensland is well-positioned for the season," he said.

"Favourable weather conditions have meant twice the number of hazard mitigation activities have already been completed compared to this time last year.

"Those activities will continue as long as it is safe to do so."

Opposition Leader Deb Frecklington claimed it was hard to believe that after last year's horrendous bushfires, the Government looked set to miss its own targets.

"The Palaszczuk Labor Government has no performance targets for holding government departments to account, which is why the LNP's bushfire plan includes a commitment to complete 98 per cent of all planned hazard reduction activities," she said.

Queensland Rural Fire Service firefighters conducting a hazard reduction burn. Photo: Queensland RFS
Queensland Rural Fire Service firefighters conducting a hazard reduction burn. Photo: Queensland RFS

Meanwhile, the government has finally begun rolling out more high-quality P3 respirator masks two years after promising to issue "thousands" to protect the health of rural fire brigades.

The Rural Fire Service has now issued 724 of the 800 masks it is delivering in 2020 to 59 brigades.

"Due to the pandemic, significant delays have been caused by increasing demand on mask suppliers and subsequent limited availability of stock, as well as limited sea transport options to ship items to Australia," a spokesperson said.

Training and fitting for the masks was also impacted by COVID safe requirements.

Volunteer brigades have been asking for the masks, which filter 99.95 per cent of particles, since 2014.

Originally published as Government fail leaves Qld in bushfire danger zone



PHOTOS: Inside Gladstone’s proposed quarantine camp

Premium Content PHOTOS: Inside Gladstone’s proposed quarantine camp

Miners and workers at the facility would be moved to Gladstone Hotels.

$39M support package announced for rural shows

Premium Content $39M support package announced for rural shows

Australian Government funding is now available for rural shows and field days which...

Quarantine camps ‘like five star resorts’: Butcher

Premium Content Quarantine camps ‘like five star resorts’: Butcher

Mining camps to be used as quarantine hubs and the miners go to Gladstone...