NO TO KEELTY: Rural firefighters performing precautionary back-burns on Gladstone-Benaraby Rd recently.
NO TO KEELTY: Rural firefighters performing precautionary back-burns on Gladstone-Benaraby Rd recently. Luka Kauzlaric

Debate rages over reviews of Queensland's rural fires

DEBATE rages over proposed changes to the administration and operation of the Rural Fire Brigade Queensland, in the wake of the Keelty Review recommendations.

The Keelty Review examined the 91 recommendations made from the Malone Review, conducted by MP and former rural firefighter Ted Malone, which had been widely supported by the Rural Fire Brigade Queensland for its operational practicality.

General manager of Rural Fire Brigades Association Queensland Justin Choveaux said there were concerns for the future of rural firefighting if the Keelty Review recommendations were uniformly adopted as opposed to those in the Malone Review.

"There were 91 recommendations that came out of the Malone Review and we (RFBAQ) supported all of those as that's how we see the rural service will be best served," Mr Choveaux said.

"Keelty has made some proposals, for example, that all fires, rural or urban, be administered by urban crews which go completely against what the Malone Review recommended."

While a decision was yet to be made by State Government on the changes that will be made to Rural Fire Services, as part of a wide-ranging review into the way emergency services and other departments were coordinated, Minister for Community Safety, Jack Dempsey, said all parties were in agreement that a better rural fire service was vital to the future of the state.

"I had a very productive and positive meeting with the Rural Fire Brigade Association of Queensland," Mr Dempsey said.

"We both reaffirmed 100% support for a better rural fire service for Queensland.

"Now that the Keelty and Malone Reviews have been finalised, we can now prioritise the recommendations and determine how they can best be implemented."

Issues up for debate included future funding for rural fire services and operational practices, including handing control of fires to urban crews.

Mr Choveaux said he would like to see debate focus on the core issues at play.

"Rural fire volunteers are the backbone of society and to see them uniting in opposition to the Keelty Review, it's not normal behaviour so hopefully that is taken into account," he said.