How our emergency services came out on top
PUTTING all barriers aside and working together was the reason for Stanthorpe’s success in fighting the 2019 September bushfires, according to Stanthorpe Police Station Senior Constable John Thomson.
Although the town was still struck by severe devastation, Sen-Constable Thomson said matters could have been much worst.
“Yes there was a disaster, but the positives out of that were you saw the decency in humanity come out which doesn’t happen that often in my line of work,” he said.
“All the barriers were gone, and I hadn’t experienced anything like that before.”
It wasn’t just the fighters of crime who noticed this, with the fighters of fires agreeing too.
Sugarloaf Rural Fire Brigade first officer James Massey said despite where people stood in the community, everybody stepped in to do what had to be done.
“It was probably the greatest thing to bring the two sides of our fire service together,” Mr Massey said.
Applethorpe Rural Fire Brigade first officer Ronnie Bau agreed, saying despite the differences between rural and urban fireys, both outside and local crews all pulled together.
This all comes after the State Government found Queensland’s preparedness and response was highly effective in saving properties and reducing the severity of fires in September.
Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said the review undertaken by Queensland’s Inspector-General Emergency Management highlighted strong and continuous enhancement in the state’s bushfire preparedness, mitigation and overall firefighting response.
“With SES workers trained to replenish waterbombers, aircraft were able to return to the skies within three minutes. This was a phenomenal response to extraordinary conditions.”
More than a million hectares throughout the state were control-burned last year to manage fire risk, a decision that made a ‘huge difference’ according to Stanthorpe Rural Fire Brigade group officer Pedro Curr.
“The conditions were terrible on the day it was planned to go ahead,” Mr Curr said.
“It had already been cancelled once before, so it was lucky that they went ahead and did it because it made a massive difference.
“It really slowed the fire down and allowed us to get in there.”
Fire and Emergency Services Minister Craig Crawford agreed, saying pre-season mitigation burns helped save Stanthorpe.
“What this review shows us is targeted burns around community assets are highly-effective,” Mr Crawford said.
“Predictive technology forecast the Stanthorpe fire would put the town in danger, but with containment lines in place, the blaze was stopped,” he said.
Southern Downs Regional Council was asked for comment but was unable to meet deadline.