Tragic house fire: Could this have saved victim's life?

The house at 5 Wantley St, Warwick engulfed in flames.
The house at 5 Wantley St, Warwick engulfed in flames. Jonno Colfs

A DECISION to remove pagers from Warwick's permanent firefighters has again been slammed, with claims it hindered the response to a fatal fire at the weekend.

United Firefighters Union secretary John Oliver said the outcome of the fire, which claimed the life of Warwick man Nick Czugaj, could have been different had pagers still been in use.

The devastating fire ripped through the Wantley St home the same day the Daily News published a story highlighting fears it could impact response times.

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Mr Oliver has called for the decision to be reviewed immediately but QFES has ruled out any such action.

"The assistant commissioner should now look at reviewing his decision, as this is direct evidence that his removal of pagers may have had a critical effect on the outcome the fire," Mr Oliver said.

"If the permanent staff had their pagers and had been paged, there would have been more firefighters fighting the blaze.

"With more crews arriving sooner, who knows what the outcome might have been."

Warwick house fire: Huge fire engulf Warwick house
Warwick house fire: Huge fire engulf Warwick house

QFES has defended its decision, with a spokeswoman telling the Daily News that auxiliary firefighters provided the primary response to all fire and emergency related incidents in Warwick between the hours of 6pm and 7am.

"The assistant Commissioner will not be reviewing the decision to remove pagers as a result of Saturday night's incident, as the presence of pagers with permanent firefighters would not have affected the response to the fire," she said.

"Auxiliary firefighters were alerted to the fire on Saturday night through the pager system, as per standard protocol.

"A permanent firefighter who had returned to Warwick station was also alerted to the fire by a pager at the station.

"The permanent firefighter and three auxiliary firefighters responded together from the Warwick Fire and Rescue Station to provide the initial response to the incident in less than 10 minutes."

The spokeswoman said the pager system used to alert firefighters in Warwick to incidents after hours continued to be manned by auxiliary firefighters.

"It should also be noted that a response from permanent firefighters to after hours incidents in Warwick would only occur once auxiliary crews asked for back-up after responding to an incident, regardless of the former pager arrangement with permanent crews."

Member for the Southern Downs Lawrence Springborg seconded calls for a review.

"They should seriously do a review of the decision to remove the pagers from our permanent firefighters and consider objectively and openly, if there has been an impact due to this decision.

"The authorities should not dismiss the questions raised by the firefighters union."

Mr Springborg said this issue was not a new one for the region.

"When we were downgraded from a 24-hour station going back 15 years or so, all the way along we were told it wouldn't impact how our firefighters responded to a situation," Mr Springborg said

"But when you make changes to something such as this, it will make an impact at some level.

"If a significant part of your responders are not able to attend because of changes or technology, then it stands to reason that it could have an impact."