THE safety of Staddie locals and visitors has been left in the hands of weather gods after an on-call fire officer was replaced with a daytime hours substitute, says Oodgeroo MP Mark Robinson.
But Fire and Emergency Services Minister Craig Crawford has rejected Mr Robinson’s claims about the resources cut, saying a qualified fire officer and six more auxiliary firefighters have been appointed since May.
“Stradbroke Island residents deserve more respect than to be lied to by the LNP,” Mr Crawford said.
“There has been no reduction to after-hours staffing on North Stradbroke Island and it’s just plain wrong for the LNP to hijack the issue in this way.”
Earlier this month, firefighters and disaster services had worked around the clock after a bushfire, ignited by lightning in late November, ravaged more than ten per cent of the island.
State authorities were also responding to bushfires which burnt across more than a million hectares across Queensland.
Fire safety and preparedness has since been brought to the forefront and concerns have been voiced about whether red tape focused on preserving the environment was stopping land clearance for bushfire prevention.
Mr Crawford said preparedness and response to the bushfires would be reviewed by the Inspector-General Emergency Management.
“So many Queenslanders have suffered serious loss in the past week but I know that without the experience, dedication and expertise of our emergency services it could have been so much worse,” he said.
Mr Crawford said a pool of 23 auxiliary firefighters were available at North Stradbroke Island for after-hours emergencies, with three more soon to be recruited.
Their training was looked after by the island’s station officer, who began the job in May.
Mr Crawford said the qualified station officer was appointed earlier this year after Queensland Fire and Emergency Services decided to make the role permanent.
However, Mr Robinson said a Straddie-based fire officer who was available for after-hours incidents at the island was instead replaced.
“At the time, Labor’s decision to transfer Straddie’s only full-time resident 24/7 fire officer … from North Stradbroke Island and replace him with an office hours-only officer who lives off the island caused a great uproar and much concern among local Straddie residents,” Mr Robinson said.
“It is completely unacceptable to local residents that (his) replacement is only available 8.00am to 4.00pm.
“While volunteer auxiliary fire fighters do their job well, they cannot take up the slack left by Labor’s firefighting cuts.”