By Cobey Bartels. Edited for online by Jacinta Lal.
Firefighters are fundraising for the Queensland Rural Fire Service to meet operational costs despite recent funding improvements where a small number of brigades get a levy from some local councils.
Rural Fire Brigade Association Queensland general manager Justin Choveaux says they are often left to raise their own funds and rely on grant assistance.
“The rural fire brigade in Queensland do receive the lowest level of funding and support of any state or territory in the country,” Mr Choveaux says.
He says what is needed is a comprehensive, sustainable funding model.
“We currently have 1,400 rural fire brigades in Queensland,” he said.
“About 400 of them receive a local government levy, which does not meet the ongoing requirements and needs for firefighting and training.
“Royal Fire Brigade Association Queensland in relation to grant applications so far since December of this year has approved over $100,000 worth of direct grant funding.
“There needs to be an ongoing sustainable funding model and we believe that there needs to be a blended funding model – so from local government, from state and also for national disaster for federal contribution as well.”
Sunshine Coast’s Bli Bli Brigade spokesman Steven Maddigan says increased funding will allow the volunteer firefighters to spend more time training, preparing and responding to crisis.
He says the struggle to raise money for equipment and stations is never-ending.
“More money would obviously mean we don’t have to do so much fundraising, but better training and also to spend money and be able to provide better training,” he said.
“We have to fund our own fire stations.
“We’ve only just at the end of last year completed building our fire station.
“That was a $140,000 station that took us 10 years to save.”
A review of the service was undertaken last year by Queensland Assistant Minister for Emergency Volunteers Ted Malone.
The review focused mainly on alternative methods of funding and improving the efficiency of processes.