The construction of a new QFES facility in the Burdekin is a priority for the community and long overdue.
Member for Burdekin, Dale Last MP, has called for a new facility for Ayr’s firefighters and pulled no punches in asking when; rather than if.
“The current facility is simply outdated,” Mr Last said. “We rely on our local firefighters in our time of need and, frankly, it’s not good enough that they are expected to operate from a sub-standard facility.”
“Because PFAS was detected on the current site, a range of essential activities cannot be undertaken there. Currently equipment and personnel have to be transported to a training site where they undertake their training and then all the equipment has to be cleaned before it can be returned to the Ayr station.”
“Any water used at the station itself cannot be discharged and is collected and stored for treatment. At one stage, over 8,000 litres of contaminated water was awaiting collection so the response to the PFAS issue has left a lot to be desired.”
“There are also implications for the appliances that crews use to respond to emergencies. The latest design of firefighting appliance won’t fit in the existing station so, instead, we have to wait for a specially modified appliance to be delivered.”
Mr Last said that, adding to the frustration for firefighters, was the fact that the Minister for Fire & Emergency Services completely overlooked the need for a new station when it was raised.
“I raised the effects of PFAS on staff and volunteers and the need for a replacement appliance with the Minister back in October,” he said. “In his reply the Minister confirmed a new appliance would be delivered in 2024 but, when it came to the PFAS issues, our concerns were completely ignored.”
“These are people that not only put themselves at risk for the people of the Burdekin, they respond to incidents along a huge stretch of the highway. Despite that, the Minister won’t even acknowledge the problem.”
“What we need to see is a new, purpose-built facility to house not only the staff and auxiliary firefighters, but also as a base for up to date appliances and equipment. Community safety should not and cannot be something that the Minister can choose to ignore because it’s a tough question.”
“All we have ever asked for when it comes to emergency services, or any other government service for that matter; is our fair share. It is simply unacceptable that our firefighters don’t have access to the same equipment and training as firefighters in other centres.”
“Yes, there is a cost attached to a new facility but what’s the cost of doing nothing. Emergency services are funded to save lives and, regardless of where you live, we need to ensure the people who respond in our time of need have the best possible chance to do just that.”
“What I would like to see in the Minister’s reply is a commitment and a timeframe because, without both, we really don’t have the certainty we deserve. If the Minister won’t provide the answers I’ll keep asking and fighting for the services that both the community and our firefighters deserve.”
A response from the Minister is due in early January.