Damning fire report opened eyes to fire danger, council told

A DAMNING report on the fire preparedness of Redland City Council had opened the eyes of staff and residents.

FIRE MANAGEMENT REVIEW: Fire report a wake-up call for council and residents.

FIRE MANAGEMENT REVIEW: Fire report a wake-up call for council and residents.

Council chief executive Andrew Chesterman told a council meeting today that hundreds of blocks of land and fire tracks had been slashed and/or widened and many privately-owned blocks on the islands had been cleaned up since the report in July.

The Queensland Fire and Emergency Services report was prepared after dangerous fires hit Russell and Macleay islands late last year.

The review warned that dangerous vegetation and back-yard hoarding conditions had been allowed to build up. It produced 56 recommendations to tackle problems.

Cr Mark Edwards told council that the thrust of council’s response was to keep the community safe.

Substantial illegal dumping and hoarding had been reported but council and residents were responding to the issue.

Mayor Karen Williams said work was well underway on 52 of the report’s 56 recommendations. The remaining four relied on finalisation of other work.

“Council has mailed out 14,000 letters, distributed 3700 flyers, undertaken extensive advertising and worked closely with the community to encourage the spring cleaning of properties and we have found residents to be very responsive,” Cr Williams said.

“Council’s disaster management unit has received around 100 calls from residents wanting advice on what they can do to tidy up their properties and it is great to see people taking a proactive approach to their safety during fire season.

“One of the city’s strengths is our group of Southern Moreton Bay Islands’ community champions, a network of people nominated by residents to work with council to raise disaster preparedness awareness.

“We have seen significant improvements, especially on Russell Island, where there’s an obvious reduction in dumped car bodies, litter and overgrown vegetation.

“Council also continues its own program of fire risk mitigation, including fuel reduction burns and maintenance like slashing and mowing, and in addition to this has undertaken face-to-face community engagement.”

Changes include simplified disaster management plans; better mapping; fire hazard signs and; a maritime coordinator to work with Volunteer Marine Rescue, Surf Lifesaving Queensland and State Emergency Service vessels during a disaster.

There will be a council-Emergency Services stand outside Mount Cotton IGA this Saturday morning, October 21, and an address to the Macleay Island Progress Association on October 28 on disaster preparedness.

Report recommendations covered six key areas: reducing illegal dumping and hoarding; improving the resilience and disaster preparedness of residents; ensuring emergency response; reviewing maintenance plans and access trails; looking at local laws and legislation and; access to water and fire hydrants