DEVASTATING: An aerial shot of damage at Deepwater from extensive fires in November and December last year.
DEVASTATING: An aerial shot of damage at Deepwater from extensive fires in November and December last year.

Rural fire department calls for changes to fire legislation

THE Rural Fire Brigades Association Queensland has recommended a raft of changes to a 29-year-old State Government Act, following the recent devastation caused by the worst bushfires in Queensland's history.

In its response to the Inspector-General Emergency Management's bushfire review, the QFBAQ general manager Justin Choveaux said the QFES Act 1990 has never been fit for purpose.

The review aims to assess the effectiveness of preparedness activity and response to the major bushfires, including at Baffle Creek and Deepwater.

The review will address the public warnings and information, heatwave conditions, evacuation, mitigation and the emergency service response.

Mr Choveaux said changes were needed to the way state-owned land and national parks were managed, and fire-fighters needed to have the authority to use local knowledge to fight fires within their area.

He pointed to the Malone Review from 2013 that found volunteers were concerned too many fires were starting on government-owned land due to a lack of controlled burning.

"The removal of the exemption for the issuing of permits in state forests, national parks and reserves will mean that government agencies in charge of land will require a permit to light a fire, just like every other Queensland landholder," he said.

He said there was a need to give local brigades the power to command and control a fire using local knowledge.

"Subordinate internal department directives are not consistent with the legislation, and see control at many bushfires being taken away from those with the local knowledge of fire behaviour and local fire history," Mr Choveaux said.

"The RFBAQ looks towards the next complete rewrite of the QFES Act 1990.

"We will submit that each individual service would be best served with a separate and distinct section within legislation that clearly outlines the goal of each service, the powers and responsibilities of each service and how that service best interacts with the others within and outside the department."

Submissions close at 5pm on February 28 and can be made electronically or in writing.

Information on how to lodge a public submission is available at igem.qld.gov.au.



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