Firies set to soldier on

THE number of cuts to paid rural firefighters remains hazy but Warwick area group officer Alan Payne said the video calls, redundancy letters and new operating structures handed down to paid Rural Fire Service officers on Tuesday were not part of a "premature circulation" as claimed by Minister Jack Dempsey.

"It was not a proposal on Tuesday," he told volunteers from Warwick-based rural brigades on Thursday night.

"It was set in stone.

"People were given their redundancy letters and told they would take effect in March."

The Daily News asked Mr Dempsey yesterday why redundancy letters were sent out, if the people who received them had actually lost their jobs.

"I have not ticked off on the restructure model and have asked my department to come back with other options," he said.

"At this stage nothing is set in stone until the department comes back to me with a structure agreed to by all parties."

The Daily News obtained a letter sent from the Queensland Fire and Rescue Service Commissioner on Wednesday to all paid staff.

Commissioner Lee Johnson was clearly under the impression these changes were happening.

"The release of the State Budget now enables the Queensland Fire and Rescue Service to undertake the required changes to our organisation by undergoing a process or renewal and structural reform," he said.

"In this new structure 45 uniformed staff and 15 administrative staff positions will no longer be required."

Mr Payne said under the new structure 346 brigades in the Toowoomba area and 7259 volunteers would be controlled by three people in an office in Beenleigh.

"To us, this is impossible for anyone to manage," he said.

The Warwick group officer was adamant they would continue to fight fires to the best of their ability in the Southern Downs.

"We will continue to support the Warwick group," he said.

"But we will not be sending strike teams to places like St George, we do not have the operational support to co-ordinate this. We mustn't let our group structure waver."

The volunteers at the meeting agreed they would continue to do what they signed on for.

"None of us are not going to go out and fight a fire," one volunteer said.

Mr Payne said a meeting will be held in Toowoomba next week and he would put the feelings of the Warwick Rural Brigades forward.

Topics:  budget, firefighters, jack dempsey, lnp, queensland government, rural fire service



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