Auxiliary firefighting recruits learning ladder skills.
Auxiliary firefighting recruits learning ladder skills.

New recruits to protect CQ towns from disaster

THE Central Region’s firefighting capabilities will soon be augmented with newly-minted auxiliary recruits who are now midway through an intensive training course.

Seven volunteers from across Central Queensland are spending two weeks away from home learning the skills needed to assist their local fire stations with emergencies.

James Jeffrey, a 30-year-old diesel mechanic working at a Moranbah mine, said he had been interested in volunteering for several years, but when he first moved to town, there were no vacancies in the program.

“One morning after night shift, we were driving past the station and there was a sign out the front saying ‘Auxiliaries wanted’,” he said.

“I’ve got a daughter at home – she’s a one-and-a-half-year-old – and it’ll be good to know that if something goes wrong you’ll be able to hopefully keep a level head.”

The current training program, the first held at Biloela, began on November 16.

Today the trainees were practising using ladders at Biloela Fire Station.

“You wouldn’t think there’s much in it, just setting up a ladder,” Mr Jeffrey said.

“Just got to go through all the steps and call [out] and make sure everyone does it safely.

“There’s a lot to take in in 10 or 11 days: it feels like you could do it for weeks and still be trying to take it in.”

He said he was “sure it will feel really good” helping out his fellow residents in emergencies.

Joshua Divven.
Joshua Divven.

Joshua Divven, 37 and also from Moranbah said being an auxiliary firefighter was “something I’ve wanted to do my whole life”.

“Small town, help the community out, meet new people, learn new skills,” he said.

Mr Divven said joining a full-time firefighting force was “on the radar”.

Gladstone Fire Station station officer and QFES regional training officer Graham Smith said the trainees would learn basic firefighting skills, such as how to operate fire truck equipment and use breathing apparatuses.

“All of these people have full time jobs,” he said.

“They’ve chosen to give their spare time to Queensland Fire and Emergency Services and be a part of their local fire station.

“It’s a very compact, intense course, so a lot of subject matter gets put into the two weeks that we’re here.”

Gladstone Fire Station station officer and regional training officer Graham Smith.
Gladstone Fire Station station officer and regional training officer Graham Smith.

He said there are typically four such auxiliary courses each year, depending on the demand from various fire stations across Central Queensland.

“Auxiliary firefighters are important because we don’t have enough instances to warrant a permanent fire station which is permanently manned twenty-four-seven,” he said.

“In the more regional areas we have to provide a service and that is in the form of an auxiliary, part-time service.

“During the normal course of [the recruits’ full-time] work, a fire call will come in for their station. They’re either notified via an SMS or pager system, they respond to the station, and then they turn out and deal with the assignment they’ve been given.”