WHAT THE TRUCK: Firies fire up over new truck backflip
AN EMPTY, state of the art fire station, worth a whopping $92,000 sits useless in Aldershot where the local rural brigade is desperate for a new truck.
Members claim they have held up their end of the bargain, building a shed on the understanding a second appliance was on the way.
Now, despite endless fund-raising along with a council grant and $10,000 from the Rural Fire and Emergency Service, the completed station is a white elephant during one of the most brutal fire danger periods of the year.
The old truck is out of commission and the new truck members claim was promised has not only failed to arrive, the word from head office is, it's never coming.
Aldershot Fire Brigade First Officer Craig Smith says members are not only angry at the apparent back-flip but fearful of the potentially catastrophic consequences should a fire break out and no truck is available.
He says without a functioning fire truck, Aldershot would be up in flames if a large fire were to break out.
He fears for the future of the rural Fraser Coast town if local firefighters aren't able to get the necessary equipment to combat fire outbreaks over the coming months.
"It means crews from Maryborough or Tinana have to respond while we're off the road,” Mr Smith said.
"But to get here, it takes about 40 minutes from the Tinana station and the base in Howard.
"And that time makes all the difference between a small fire and a big fire.”
With the truck under repair and off the road for another week, Mr Smith said it was not an ideal situation given the fire ban declared across the Fraser Coast.
"The whole area is like a tinderbox ready to go off, especially with the strong winds,” he said.
"If a massive fire were to start out, a lot of houses would be at risk and potentially lost.”
Mr Smith has also had to contend with members leaving the brigade, bringing the total number of volunteers for the service down from 18 to about 11.
In a letter to Maryborough MP Bruce Saunders, which the Chronicle has obtained a copy of, Emergency Services Minister Craig Crawford claims QFES denied promising the truck.
A QFES spokesman reiterated that to the Chronicle claiming the brigade did not inform members they would recieve a second appliance.
"QFES monitors and reviews its service delivery across the state to ensure appropriate resources are available for all emergency services responses,” he said
"A second response appliance for the Aldershot Rural Fire Brigade is not currently planned and the brigade is aware of this.
"Aldershot Rural Fire Brigade has made several requests to QFES for a second appliance.
"QFES recently undertook an assessment of the Aldershot RFB response area, including the current demand for service and existing risk”.
Yesterday, the State Government announced a new $3.7 million fire station would be built in Childers.
Fire and Emergency Services Minister Craig Crawford said the project was made possible through a "record $702 million QFES budget.”