Hinterland rural fire brigades struggle as money dries up

Guanaba Rural Fire Brigade 11

Guanaba Rural Fire Brigade fighting the recent fires in Gilston on the Gold Coast. PICTURE: Cameron Neville. SOURCE: Supplied to myGC

A VOLUNTEER firefighter on the Gold Coast has slammed both state and local governments after the recent news rural brigades will no longer receive the funding to do their job, putting those residents who live in and on the outer edges of the hinterland most at risk.

Volunteer firefighter Facebook post

Volunteer firefighter’s message. Source: Facebook


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The anonymous volunteer, who claims to be part of the Coomera Valley Rural Fire Brigade, has taken to social media to inform locals of the funding cuts and says lives are at risk.

“It’s time to let Gold Coasters know, rural fire volunteers are now unfunded. State and local government no longer fund us,” the post said.

“This means we may no longer be able to respond to fires. If you live near bushland or in a rural area, this affects you.

“Urban trucks can not go off road and rely on rural trucks, even in town. No money equals no rural trucks. Thanks Mr Newman and Tom Tate.”

Last month, member for Gaven Dr Alex Douglas MP said the future of Gold Coast Hinterland fire brigades was in doubt with most rural brigades left to fund themselves as money eventually dries up.

Guanaba Rural Fire Brigade (3)

Guanaba Rural Fire Brigade saving lives by fighting the fires in Pimpama in late 2013. PICTURE: Guanaba Rural Fire Brigade

“Brigade representatives have told me they’re worried about their futures as Gold Coast City Council refuses to continue to collect a fire levy and the State Government says it will not fund brigades from the new emergency services levy,” Mr Douglas said.

“One senior member, after attending a meeting of coast brigade representatives, told me there is a very real possibility that rural brigades will cease to exist on the Gold Coast over the next few years.

“This will impact on urban brigades as they will have to take over the areas. Quite literally, most rural brigades will be on their own as their funds dry up.”

Help us

A banner hung outside the Guanaba Rural Fire Brigade’s station in the Gold Coast hinterland. SOURCE: Supplied.

In Parliament on February 12, Mr Douglas asked the Police and Emergency Services Minister what contingencies the government has in place to provide bushfire protection to those rural areas that will be left unprotected when brigades cease to exist.

“Minister Dempsey has 30 days to answer my question,” Mr Douglas said on February 12.

“Last October I warned the Parliament that if the new $90 state rural fire levy wasn’t directed back into the coffers of rural fire brigades, coupled with the council’s decision to stop collecting a rural fire service levy, that rural brigades would find it difficult to survive.

“Well it appears that no one heeded my warning because the signs are now there, despite some Gold Coast brigades being in denial as to the realities of the situation.

Guanaba Rural Fire Brigade

Guanaba Rural Fire Brigade saving lives by fighting the fires in Pimpama in late 2013. PICTURE: Guanaba Rural Fire Brigade

“I applaud Division 5 councillor Tracey Gilmore who I understand has offered to assist with funds from her community budget for her Hinterland area, but other areas are battling,” he said.