SMALL COMPENSATION: Warwick Rural Fire Brigades deputy group officer Alan Payne is pleased with changes that will give firies more protection.
SMALL COMPENSATION: Warwick Rural Fire Brigades deputy group officer Alan Payne is pleased with changes that will give firies more protection. File

Covering those who put their lives on the line

RURAL, urban and auxiliary firefighters will be given further protection under a Bill presented to parliament this week.

The Protecting Firefighters Bill will provide coverage to firefighters who contract one of 12 specified cancers while serving the community and fighting blazes.

Queensland Fire and Rescue Service deputy group officer for Warwick Alan Payne said he welcomed the Bill and the security it would bring in the long-term.

"I certainly support this because you just don't know what you are inhaling in the smoke," he said.

"The volunteers go out there and we put our lives on the line to fight fires and this would certainly be a help to know we are covered for this."

Mr Payne, who has served as a rural firefighter for 25 years, said long-term health effects such as cancer were a real risk.

"Our biggest worry is if we go to a situation, particularly in our area with farm sheds, and you don't know what is in there and what chemicals and plastics are around," he said.

"Although we are very cautious, sometimes you just don't know what is in the smoke.

"All smoke is a risk to us and we don't have breathing apparatuses, we just have ordinary paper masks."

Shadow Minister for Police, Fire and Emergency Services and Corrective Services Jarrod Bleijie said the Bill amended the Workers Compensation and Rehabilitation Act 2003 to further protect firefighters.

"In a state like Queensland, with the range of wild weather conditions firefighters are often called upon to protect and rescue people during, fires, wild storms, floods, cyclones and bushfires," Mr Bleijie said.

"These changes will provide the highest level of support in the country."

Mr Bleijie said the amendment would ensure that all firefighters including full-time, auxiliary and volunteer firefighters in Queensland who contract one of the specified cancers would be covered.

"If a firefighter suffers one of the 12 cancers that were deemed to be 'work-related', it will be presumed the cancer was caused by that employment for the purposes of a workers compensation claim.

"Like the rest of Queensland, the LNP respects the hard work, dedication and sense of service that permanent, part-time, auxiliary and volunteer rural firefighters have and the innate sense of selflessness these men and women display on a daily basis, protecting lives and property around this state.

"It is important we repay them for this dedication through this Bill and bring Queensland firefighters in line with their counterparts across Australia.

"There are 35,000 volunteer firefighters in Queensland and this legislation will protect all firefighters - irrespective of pay status or the colour of the fire engine," he said.



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