HomeCommunityRural fire brigades stand ready despite virus disruption

Rural fire brigades stand ready despite virus disruption

Childers Fire Brigade
Childers Rural Fire Brigade members pictured in action during the horror local fire season late last year have been forced to disrupt regular training due to Covid-19.

The weekly meetings and training exercises for members of the Childers Rural Fire Brigade have been suspended.

However, the group, like others across the region, remains active and available to respond to call outs.

First Officer with the Brigade, Jeffrey Maeyke, said the group had been instructed to observe required protocols in relation to Covid-19 public health directives.

“It has to be remembered that rural brigades are comprised of community volunteers so it’s imperative we observe maximum safety requirements for their welfare,” he said.

“Our group normally meets at the Childers station every Tuesday night for training and we also hold a meeting once a month.

Training program interrupted

Childers Fire Brigade
The new Childers Fire and Emergency Services Facility which was opened about 15 months ago. The facility is shared by the QFRS and Rural Fire Service.

“The decision to suspend these training nights has impacted a number of new volunteers who are working through their training to enable them to become active members of our team.”

First Officer Maeyke said there are around 30 volunteers associated with the Childers Rural Fire Brigade.

“We had upwards of a dozen more who expressed interest in joining with many commencing the required training,” he said.

“In recent days I have been advised that there may be avenues available for these people to continue and complete the required training hours.”

He said rural brigades and firefighters in general across the region had attained some prominence following the heavy workload from the fires of late last year, particularly around Woodgate and the Isis River Forestry area.

“I know those events have inspired some people to want to come on board and to contribute as volunteer fire fighters.”

First Officer Maeyke said the Childers Rural Brigade was very well equipped with two heavy duty 4WD attack vehicles among their appliances.

The trucks are purpose built to cater to what could be considered unique circumstances within the local operational area.

Unit equipped with great appliances

“They are very robust vehicles with a high capacity 500 litre water tank. The Hino we received about three years ago cost around a quarter of a million dollars but was custom-built to cater to our demographic which involves incidents caused through cane fires,” he said.

Long serving Childers fireman Colin “Curl” Santacaterina said the rural brigade remained well-prepared to assist with any required response.

Childers Fire Brigade
He’s a local legend! Childers firefighter Col “Curl” Santacaterina has more than 40 years’ experience in the fire service and continues his involvement with the Rural Brigade.

“Curl”, who has been a fireman for more than 40 years, said the local rural brigades had a core of very well-trained and experienced volunteers.

While “Curl” is in the twilight of his service as a fireman, his vast experience and the good habits and practices he follows remain invaluable to the less experienced.

His experience extends to the Childers Backpacker Hostel blaze in June 2000 where he was one of the first on the scene to fight the fire that ultimately claimed 15 lives.

“While the current pandemic has disrupted our normal training routines residents across the region can be assured the rural brigades are ready to respond to any call out. “You just don’t forget the basics of your training,” he said.