‘WE NEED HELP’: Karara resident pleads for council attention
THE fire hydrants in Karara have disappeared, and along with them, some residents' faith in their council.
Resident Tracey Long watched as the hydrants were removed by Southern Downs Regional Council staff last year, but says the community received no notice, and no answers.
"If our house burns down, what are we supposed to do?" Ms Long said.
"The tanks at the Rural Fire Service hold just three, or four, truckloads of water, and if they need more, they have to get it from somewhere else.
"We knew the council was turning off our town water supply, and we knew they were taking out the water meters, but we had no idea they were taking out the hydrants, too."
For 12 months, Ms Long sought answers, calling and writing "countless times" to the council, without receiving adequate response.
"I just want to know why, and no one can tell me," she said.
"They could have left the hydrants there because their water came down from the main line, which is still there.
"We feel snubbed."
Despite Ms Long's concerns, Karara First Officer Ian Clark said the RFS has a fast and efficient way of securing water to fight fires.
The station has its own supply of tank water which can be refilled within 48 hours by the council, and a number of water tanks throughout the region that can be called upon at a moment's notice.
A spokeswoman for the SDRC said council staff worked closely with the RFS when the raw water system was decommissioned to ensure water would be available to fight fires.
"The rural fire brigade at Karara and the council have worked through the decommissioning of the raw water network and have come to an agreed outcome which the council does not intend to amend," she said.
Mr Clark said the changes didn't make any difference to the service they provided to their community.
"It just means we have to monitor the water levels more," he said.
"There's gauges on there so it's easy to read after you've gone out on a job."
The crew fought a small grassfire on Saturday, and Mr Clark said they used just 4000L of their 50,000L capacity, demonstrating how far the supply could go in the event of an emergency.
If the fire service needed additional water, a tanker could be called upon from nearby Leyburn or Pratten.
"We had a house fire a few months ago, right in the middle of the drought, and we were able to get water to that house," Mr Clark said.
"We're always looking at what-if scenarios, re-evaluating how we react and what we do, and there's a lot of responses we can use to get water trucks to put out the fire."
Regardless of his assurances, the community remains sceptical, and Ms Long said it was agreed the reinstallation of fire hydrants was Karara's "number one priority" when council candidates visited during their election campaigns.
But that was where the conversation ended, leaving Ms Long frustrated and feeling her community had been forgotten.
"We get neglected out here, we don't get water, we don't get our footpaths mowed … nothing," she said.
"All we want is someone from council to come and see us, to ask if we need anything around here, and then doing it.
"We need some help. We need someone to help us get something done around here."