Firefighters could lose specialised appliances.
Firefighters could lose specialised appliances.

Fire crews 'don't have numbers'

THE United Firefighters Union (UFU) is concerned specialised appliances, which are important to servicing the Warwick region, may be taken off the road due to low staff levels in Toowoomba.

The appliances, which include the Technical Rescue and BA/HAZMAT support vehicles and crews, are located in Toowoomba and, according to UFU Toowoomba branch secretary Remco Speekenbrink, they are taken off the road when staff levels drop from 10.

The support and equipment supplied by these appliances and their crews is of a very specialised nature not carried on standard fire appliances.

Mr Speekenbrink said Toowoomba only had 10 permanent firefighters on at any one time, when this dropped to nine, the special appliances were taken off the road.

“A system was in place where firefighters were called back to ensure that adequate coverage was supplied to regional communities, but now when Toowoomba special appliances are unavailable, specialist support has to come from Ipswich, an hour extra travel time,” Mr Speekenbrink said.

Assistant Commissioner for the south-west region Tom Dawson said any vehicle that was taken off the road for any reason was covered by a contingency plan which ensured the safety of the community.

He said there had been no requirement for a specialist vehicle from Ipswich to attend incidents as the other appliances in the south-west region generally have the required equipment.

“If there is any other large-scale or protracted incident then all the QFRS resources can be made available,” Asst Comm Dawson said.

He said he wasn’t concerned about the level of service provided to the region as there was an agreed crewing model that ensured that even if there are staff shortages firefighters can respond.

“Across the State if there is a staff shortage each region follows an operational delivery plan based on the minimum staffing levels to ensure operational requirements are still maintained and response times are met,” he said.

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