Monday, June 24, 2024

Legislation reforms to strengthen Queensland fire front

Legislative changes introduced by the Queensland Government today will establish the Rural Fire Service Queensland and Queensland Fire and Rescue as separate and dedicated fire services, with dedicated budgets, within the Queensland Fire Department.

Minister for Fire and Disaster Recovery, Nikki Boyd says a new role for a Chief Fire Officer will be created to provide advice to the Commissioner on matters relating to service delivery, operational culture, best practice and innovation and research across the fire services; while a new Rural Fire Service Advisory Committee will be established with a strong volunteer representation, enabling a strong voice for volunteers to raise matters important to them.

“The Bill reflects this Government’s ongoing and unwavering commitment to ensure the safety of our communities. We take that responsibility seriously,” Minister Boyd said.  

“The impacts of climate change and a range of other factors will continue to exacerbate the demand for our fire and emergency services well into the future.

“It is essential that our emergency services agencies remain up to task.

“This Bill contains amendments that will set up the structures for QFD, RFSQ and QFR, support accountability and management of the services and Rural Fire Brigades, and ensure there are legal protections for fire volunteers.”

To address historical issues concerning the legal status of rural fire brigades and volunteer protections, the Bill formally recognises brigades and their volunteer members.

A new ‘person in charge’ provision has been included in the Bill respond to circumstances where no first officer or next officer from a rural fire brigade is available during an incident response.

Under the legislation, the Commissioner can appoint a brigade member as a person in charge of operations to ensure they have appropriate legal protections.

Mandatory requirements will be required for certain positions in recognition of the important duties and responsibilities of those positions both in the QFR and RFSQ.

“The amendments will also ensure that volunteer brigade members who act within the course of their duties and do so carefully and in good faith will have available protections from legal liability aligned with professional firefighters,” the Minister said.

“To be clear: yellow trucks will NOT need to wait for red trucks to respond to an incident.”

Amendments will also identify disaster management responsibilities of the Police Commissioner and various strategic bodies such as the Queensland Disaster Management Committee.  

The role of the Queensland Reconstruction Authority will be expanded to coordinate and implement policies related to potential disaster risk assessments across Queensland.

Queensland Fire and Emergency Services (QFES) Acting Commissioner Steve Smith said the Bill was a significant milestone as the Service builds toward 30 June 2024 and the transition to the Queensland Fire Department.

“These amendments help to set up Queensland Fire Department and its two fire services, Rural Fire Service Queensland and Queensland Fire and Rescue to prosper for years to come,” he said.

“The proposed legislation recognises the highly valued service provided by volunteers in communities across Queensland and provides greater legal protections to them as they serve these communities.”

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