Following the destruction of a house in Waite Creek Court last month, Whitsunday Regional Council is calling on the State Government to improve local response times to fire emergencies.
Councillor Jan Clifford said a 25 to 35-minute response time was unacceptable, while making it clear the criticism was not directed at the professional and auxiliary firefighters in the Whitsundays.
“We do not have a 24-7 fire station and I believe it’s time we did have one or start making moves to get one,” she said.
“If that fire had been in Blue Horizons or a big apartment block, it could have been tragic.”
The only fire station in the Jubilee Pocket, Airlie Beach and Cannonvale area is at Jubilee Pocket and is staffed between 8am and 4pm Monday to Friday.
It operates as an auxiliary fire station after hours and on weekends, which means firefighters are paged and can only depart for an emergency once the whole team has assembled.
Immediately following the house fire at Waite Creek Court in February, a Queensland Fire and Emergency Services representative said an additional station in the Whitsundays was “not currently planned” and the organisation was “confident in its current service delivery model”.
Cr Clifford did not agree with the QFES assessment.
“It took half an hour for a fire engine to get to a house fire and I would like to see a 24/7 fire station.”
Cr Clifford said at a recent council meeting there was support for the idea from the mayor and five other councillors.
It was determined the chief executive officer, Barry Omundson, would draft a letter to the QFES in which it would be asked what the State Government’s intentions were.
“I think the State Government has a responsibility to its citizens,” Cr Clifford said.
Last month, QFES defended the response time by highlighting reporting discrepancies – some callers identified the fire as a grass fire and others a house fire.
The representative said population was only one factor that determined future station locations, other factors including density and proximity to key infrastructure.
Source: Whitsunday Times.