Residents share their frustration with black spots at fire meeting.
Residents share their frustration with black spots at fire meeting. Kevin Farmer

Post-bushfire debrief raises telecommunications issues

AS ONE of the worst fires in the state's history bore down on Baffle Creek, some residents were unable to turn to free-to-air television for emergency advice.

A lack of telecommunications was one of the issues brought up on Saturday during a bushfire debrief meeting for Baffle Creek and Deepwater residents.

The debrief was hosted by the council and emergency services to discuss what went right, what went wrong and what could be improved after the bushfires in November and December.

Speaking to The Observer after the meeting, Gladstone mayor Matt Burnett said one of the biggest issues for residents was telecommunications.

"A lot of the area - especially around Captain Creek particularly - doesn't have free-to-air television,” Cr Burnett said.

"The black spots they have, whether they're mobile black spots or radio and television black spots, cause an issue.”

He said most residents were able to seek their information through the council's social media and The Observer's website.

Cr Burnett said the council would approach the Federal Government for potential upgrades to address the telecommunications issues.

"If you don't have free to air you can always rely on your local radio station but if you don't have that either then it's a real problem,” Cr Burnett said.

Residents raised issues such as how to control fuel loads and where fire breaks should be.

Wartburg Fire Brigade first officer Judy Ferrari said Baffle Creek has always been identified as a black spot for some telecommunications services.

"It has always been an issue since the 2013 floods,” Ms Ferrari said.

"This is the third situation we've had in six years.

"There was a bit of frustration from community members that aren't able to access (important) facilities.”

Currently, Telstra has mobile phone equipment in the Baffle Creek region to decrease black spots in its coverage.

But Ms Ferrari said that was not enough.

One of the points Ms Ferrari took away from the meeting, attended by more than a hundred people, is residents have to be more prepared until the issues are fixed.

She said residents needed to look after their properties' fuel loads and maintain fire breaks.

Ms Ferrari said at the start of the meeting there was a feeling of "frustration” but that eased after residents heard from emergency services and council.

"Hopefully people take something out of that and look after themselves -I think people have to do that when they're living in an area like this.”

The meetings follow a debriefing in Mt Larcom.



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