QFES report may lead to changes in vegetation protection in Redlands

DAMPING DOWN: Fire staff damping down during the Russell Island fires last year.
DAMPING DOWN: Fire staff damping down during the Russell Island fires last year.

THE Queensland Fire and Emergency Services report into how Redland City Council manages the risk of fire may lead to changes in the level of protection of ecologically important areas.

The report has warned that fire exclusion zones are overgrown and carrying heavy loads.

Mayor Karen Williams said the report recommended a better balance between community safety and protecting the environment.

“We will always put the welfare of our people first and will take the feedback on board,” she said. “This is an extremely thorough review, drawing on data analysis, field inspections, assessments of fuel loads, community consultation and advanced modelling techniques.

The 89-page report, by Queensland Fire and Emergency Services, has 56 recommendations and was commissioned by council after fires on Macleay Island in November and Russell Island in December last year.

The report’s recommendations fall into six key areas:

1. Reduce illegal dumping and hoarding;

2. Improving the resilience and disaster preparedness of residents;

3. Ensuring emergency response capacity across agencies;

4. Reviewing maintenance plans and access trails;

5. Looking at byaws and legislation; and 

6. Providing local access to water and fire hydrants.

Cr Williams said that since January this year, council had:

# Held 200 hours of community engagement to raise awareness of disaster preparedness;

# Slashed 172,533 square metres over 259 blocks;

# Removed potentially dangerous trees from beside roadways;

# Started incorporating the latest QFES fire management mapping into the Redland Disaster Management Plan;

# Started work on updating the Disaster Management Plan to include the latest technology, mapping and census data;

# Used the latest Simulation Analysis Based Risk Evaluation Technology to assess the probability of fire behaviour based on wind, humidity and temperature conditions;

# Written to Federal Communications Minister Mitch Fifield about improving telecommunications on islands.

Cr Williams said the fact that many of the actions were already part of council operations showed the organisation was on the right track.

“We’ll use this review to reinforce our commitment to fire mitigation and preparation,” she said. “Council will also continue to encourage all land owners to look for opportunities to maintain their properties to reduce the risk of fire.”