Boyne radio channel clogged by construction workers

BOYNE Valley/Many Peaks firefighters are concerned the misuse of a UHF radio channel could have disastrous effects during the upcoming fire season, as it's the only communication the valley has in an emergency.

They say even if the misuse is unintentional, it is still important to make as many people as possible aware of the impending situation.

A UHF radio repeater on Mount Fort William, near Kalpower, is an input channel (channel 33) that allows those in the Boyne Valley to communicate via channel 3.

If that chatter clogged up the repeater and you couldn't get an emergency call out then someone could die.

But firefighters are saying that channel 3 - an output channel - is being bombarded with construction workers in Gladstone who are transmitting via channel 33, but they have no way to contact the workers.

Many Peaks first officer and fire warden Frank McKee said with several fires now burning in the general area, it was important to get the word out.

"We're in for a big fire season and that's our only form of communication," he said.

"We're going to be busy and when we get out there it'll be a matter of life and death.

"If that chatter clogged up the repeater and you couldn't get an emergency call out then someone could die."

He said the brigades try to burn off on a fairly regular basis, usually when the frosts in May/June dry the grass off.

"But last winter was so mild we didn't have frost; all through winter there wasn't a lot of rain and there was still green grass.

"Then in a matter of days we had a cold snap with three frosts in a row," Mr McKee said.

He said it went from too green to too dangerous to burn, "so now we're trying to put fire breaks in place and get people to clean their guttering and make properties a little bit safer".

Firefighters say it's obvious chatter is coming from Curtis Island

GLADSTONE construction workers have been checking their radio systems following the plea from firefighters, who say the workers have been clogging up a UHF radio channel used for communication around the mobile reception-impaired Boyne Valley.

Everyone from developers to road workers to some of Gladstone's big projects use UHF radios to communicate, and the firefighters say it's obvious the chatter is coming from Curtis Island.

But Bechtel says it's not their workers, and a number of other projects have also checked their radio frequencies following requests from The Observer.

Many Peaks first officer Frank McKee said residents in the Boyne Valley were hearing conversations about moving gravel and other "building site chatter".

"These guys are talking to their mates 200 yards away and they don't know they're using the carrier channel for the repeater," he said.

Bechtel Gladstone general manager Kevin Berg said they would continue to ensure that no-one used channels that could impact community services in the region.

Gladstone Regional Council does not use radio channels within the range of 31 to 38, and neither does WICET contractors or workers at the pipeline projects for APLNG, QCLNG and GLNG.

UHF radios

  • UHF CB is an abbreviation for Ultra High Frequency Citizen Band Radio, available to all Australians.
  • Some channels have specific roles and using them may interfere with other legitimate users.
  • Channel 33 is one of the transmitting channels for the Boyne Valley repeater.
  • Channel 31 to 38 are repeater inputs - don't use these channels for simplex transmissions as you will interfere with conversations on channels 1 to 8.