Hundreds sign petition for return of fire brigade
DETERMINED to get to the bottom of why a rural township's fire brigade was canned, residents are calling for an investigation into the Queensland Fire and Emergency Services' decision.
The Captain Creek Rural Fire Brigade was deregistered by QFES on November 2, 2019 after an investigations found "poor behaviour, misuse of brigade equipment and poor financial management".
After months of campaigning for the reinstatement of the brigade, which had 47 members, Member for Burnett Stephen Bennett made another plea to QFES today.
He urged people to sign a petition to the Queensland Government asking for the brigade to be urgently re-registered.
The petition already has close to 700 signatures.
"We're going to continue our campaign of raising the issue in parliament as we did last year," Mr Bennett said.
He also called for an investigation by the state's crime and corruption watchdog or the Queensland Ombudsman into the decision.
Mr Bennett disputed QFES's claims of the investigation uncovering poor behaviour at the brigade which had been operational for almost 50 years.
"We have real concernsabout how this whole matter is being handled," Mr Bennett said.
"I think there is a case to answer for.
"We do need to get to the bottom of this."
Mr Bennett said in response to his letters on the matter, Minister for Fire and Emergency Services Craig Crawford said there were plans for a new brigade to be established this year.
"We need clear dates, clear dissemination of information of what this rural fire brigade's future looks like," Mr Bennett said.
Former Captain Creek RFB member Peter Willis said recent fires at Mount Maria would not have been as catastrophic if the brigade was active.
Mr Willis said it was in QFES's best interests to have more volunteers on the ground, which a Captain Creek brigade would provide.
"(QFES) brings in huge amounts of resources … yet all they need to do is support the local brigades, the ones who are committed to defending the property," he said.
Concerned Citizens of Captain Creek secretary Lorraine May said she was disappointed with how the volunteers had been treated.
"We're a very close communtiy, they're my friends and my neighbours," she said.
"They've protected our property numerous times. They've done numerous fire hazard reduction burns."
Mrs May said the group would write a letter to the QFES ethics committee.
A Queensland Fire and Emergency Services spokesperson said it was working with the community to have a replacement brigade as soon as possible.
"Members from the former Captain Creek RFS Brigade who are eligible can opt to join the replacement brigade or neighbouring brigades from Agnes Water, Lowmead, Colosseum or Wartburg," they said.
"A new brigade would be established as the Captain Creek RFS Brigade has been deregistered. QFES will work with the community to name the replacement brigade."
QFES said an update would be provided at a community meeting in coming months.