Parliamentary shout out leaves QFES volunteer stunned

THE CAVES Rural Fire Brigade Volunteer Jenny Kingston has been described "as a behind the scenes angel of the brigade" in a parliamentary speech this week.

Keppel MP Brittany Lauga took to the microphone last week in Queensland Parliament to praise the "incredibly brave" men and women who battled "unprecedented bushfires" in Central Queensland late-2018.

The Assistant Education Minister told Parliament the fires "felt like a dry cyclone and it caused fear and panic".

 

Fire at The Caves.
A bushfire threatens homes at the The Caves. Allan Reinikka ROK291118afirecav

Mrs Lauga spoke about the toughness and resilience of Central Queenslanders who, in the past few years, have endured a category five cyclone, a major flood and the extremely serious bushfires.

She said this "traumatic event" brought out the "remarkable" behaviour of communities at The Caves, Gracemere, Stanwell and Alton Downs and the invaluable role of emergency services in assisting residents, businesses and landholders.

"I saw the local permanent and volunteer firefighters, backed by colleagues from other parts of Queensland and interstate, do a wonderful job at protecting the people and their property in Central Queensland," she said.

"They are incredibly brave men and women who put their lives on the line to protect our community."

 

CAVES UPDATE: The Caves Rural Fire Brigade HQ was a hive of activity preparing their counter-strategy against the fires that continue to burn around the area.
THE CAVES' MEN: The Caves Rural Fire Brigade HQ was a hive of activity preparing their counter strategy against the bushfires that ravaged the area. Leighton Smith

Mrs Lauga said Rural Fire Service Volunteers from Bungundarra, The Caves, Keppel Sands, Cawarral, Tanby and Adelaide Park brigades, within her electorate, all rose to the occasion and the Fire and Rescue Stations at Emu Park, North Rockhampton and Yeppoon played an incredibly important role too.

Mrs Lauga singled out special praise for the Caves Rural Fire Brigade, QFES personnel and SES volunteers.

"These men and women did amazing job containing the fire at The Caves," she said.

"They sacrificed their time but also made significant financial sacrifices as they missed work or (were unable to) rung their businesses in order to keep our community safe."

 

Caves residents began evacuation procedures late Friday November 30 as fires break out again: Gracemere Lions club members Bob Johnson, Judith Letchford and Selwyn Nufer
Caves residents began evacuation procedures late Friday November 30 as fires break out again: Gracemere Lions club members Bob Johnson, Judith Letchford and Selwyn Nufer Jann Houley

She especially praised a volunteer firefighter named Brad Kingston (first officer) who fought fires at Mount Larcom and The Caves for over eight days.

And noted The Caves Rural Fire Brigade volunteer Jenny Kingston who was a "behind the scenes angel of the brigade"

"She cooks for the men and women firefighters, had the fridges stocked with water, soft drinks and Powerade and, when I visited the Brigade, she had a hearty chicken gravy dish simmering away in the slow cooker," Mrs Lauga said.

"Thanks so much Jenny for all that you do"

Mrs Lauga said the smooth preparation for, and recovery after, the bushfires was a credit to the cooperation between all levels of government, including Rockhampton and Livingstone mayors, their respective Local Disaster Management Groups, the Member for Rockhampton Barry O'Rourke and all of the respective State agencies involved.

"Thank you to all of our local firefighters, both the volunteers and officers, who left their families to help keep our local families safe. We love your work," said Mrs Lauga.

Ms Kingston was still in shock and feeling very humbled at Mrs Lauga's words.

 

Jenny Kingston,  The Caves Rural Fire Brigade.
Jenny Kingston, The Caves Rural Fire Brigade. Allan Reinikka ROK040319acavesrf

"It was a total surprise, I wasn't expecting it.... but I had help, I had some wonderful people giving me a hand," she said.

"I love the boys and girls in the brigade, I would do anything for them.

"When we needed a little bit of support just to know someone was there thinking about us and Brittany was there, along with Mayor Billl Ludwig and Councillor Glenda Mather jumped in the kitchen one day making sandwiches."

Ms Kingston has been in the brigade for almost 15 years and her role is to keep the office ticking.

Caves fire a month on: Caves fire a month on.

She can't go out fighting fires so she looks after everyone, "making everything run as smoothly as possible".

Reflecting on the fires, she said they got through it with community spirit.

"I was there the day the fire started and the crews were off in different directions so I just stayed... to make sure they had something to drink, eat and had a rest," Ms Kingston said.

"It's a bit like running a family."

 

Mayor Bill Ludwig, Barry O'Rourke MP, Deputy Premier Jackie Trad MP, Brittany Lauga MP and The Caves Rural Fire Brigade's Brad Kingston.
Mayor Bill Ludwig, Barry O'Rourke MP, Deputy Premier Jackie Trad MP, Brittany Lauga MP and The Caves Rural Fire Brigade's Brad Kingston. Contributed

Ms Kingston noted the businesses from around town who also donated goods the brigade including The Ginger Mule, East St Family Snack Bar, Woolworths, Newsome's tyres, Priceline Pharmacy and locals.

"People just kept coming, bringing a carton of water or coming for a chat," she said.

"It was a terrible, horrendous fire but we got through it with people power."

Being involved in the brigade is Ms Kingston's way of giving back.

"It makes you want to belong to the community...we love what we do and we do it to be a part of it," she said.