Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk came to the Sunshine Coast to pay tribute to the colossal effort and courage shown by the QFES and Rural Fire Brigade volunteers during the horrendous Pegeian fires. Now her government has suspended their uniform requests because they won’t apply for Blue Cards they say they don’t need. Photo: John McCutcheon / Sunshine Coast Daily
Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk came to the Sunshine Coast to pay tribute to the colossal effort and courage shown by the QFES and Rural Fire Brigade volunteers during the horrendous Pegeian fires. Now her government has suspended their uniform requests because they won’t apply for Blue Cards they say they don’t need. Photo: John McCutcheon / Sunshine Coast Daily

Outraged rural firefighters in Blue Card stand-off

THE State Government has suspended uniform requests from volunteers because they have rejected a demand to apply for Blue Cards.

Those who stared down the blaze that threatened to destroy Peregian are among the 86 per cent of Rural Fire Brigade members across the state who have dumped the Blue Card applications they were sent because they don't look after children.

The State Government has refused uniform requests from the 86 per cent of Rural Fire Brigade of Queensland volunteers who have failed to fill in Blue Card applications. Photo: John McCutcheon
The State Government has refused uniform requests from the 86 per cent of Rural Fire Brigade of Queensland volunteers who have failed to fill in Blue Card applications. Photo: John McCutcheon

Rural Fire Brigades of Queensland general manager Justin Choveaux said the government had been warned it was heading towards an iceberg and should slow down.

He has written to Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk asking her to change course.

"Many Rural Fire Brigade members are very distraught regarding this process and have dug their heels in as they do not see the need for a Blue Card nor do they see themselves or their brigade as a health service provider," the letter stated.

Mr Choveaux said 18,920 volunteers across Queensland who put their lives on the line to protect people and property would no longer be supported.

Should firefighters be forced to hold Blue Cards in order to do their job?

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The government has received Crown law advice that because rural fire brigade volunteers have first aid certificates, they are health care providers and as such should have Blue Cards.

Most don't have certificates and Queensland Fire and Emergency Services do not fund first aid courses.

Mr Choveaux said a September 18 letter from Deputy Commissioner John Bolger had listed uniform item requests that would not be met for those who failed to comply.

Mr Choveaux said a demand that all SES volunteers apply for Blue Cards had resulted in its numbers plummeting from 33,000 members to just over 5000.

"Criminal history checks are done already for new volunteers," he said.

"If a brigade committed an offence against a child they would be excluded at that point.

"Our members fight fires.

"They don't interact with children on a regular, ongoing basis."