There's no limit to the stupidity and irresponsibility of bureaucracies
FIREFIGHTERS have accused the State Government of risking lives by plundering rostered crews to make up a shortfall for corporate training. Queensland Firefighters Union secretary Mark Walker yesterday described the situation as "outrageous and dangerous" after the Maroochydore station's high-rise fire engine was left idle when its crew was sent to Brisbane to meet paid corporate obligations. Crews from the Sunshine Coast, Brisbane and the Gold Coast were all being affected.
LNP spokesman on emergency services Ted Malone said the practice was "worse than mismanagement". "The Department of Emergency Services is risking people's lives by taking firefighters off the front line to do corporate training which is not high in urgency," Mr Malone said.
One firefighter with more than 10 years' experience said yesterday that the community was being "ripped off" by the situation and he felt he was letting his workmates down as well.
Mr Walker said that because two Sunshine Coast firefighters were called to Brisbane to conduct corporate training yesterday the whole northern region, from Caloundra to Bundaberg, was left without high-rise fire-fighting capability. If a fire had broken out in a high-rise building a truck would have had to be sent up from Brisbane or there would have been a scramble to locate firefighters on their days off - meaning delays of several hours. Mr Walker said the situation had arisen because of stalled pay negotiations between the Government and the state's 2000 career firefighters. The Queensland Fire Service has a commercial arm that contracts firefighters to outside businesses to provide services such as training, usually employing them on their days off.
Queensland Fire Service Commissioner Lee Johnson said yesterday that operational overtime was authorised at Maroochydore to enable the station to be fully staffed. "In this particular case, of the two officers deployed to the Whyte Island Training Centre, only one was able to be replaced by a day worker, despite all attempts to find a replacement for the second officer on overtime," he said. "Contingency plans are in place in the event of unexpected leave. This entails contacting available trained staff and seeking support from neighbouring areas."
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