Minister for Fire and Emergency Services Mark Ryan today outlined a five-year initiative to enhance and sustain Queensland Fire and Emergency Services’ ability to plan for and respond to incidents and major disasters.
The move is part of the 2020-2021 Queensland Budget, which Mr Ryan said would deliver $858 million this financial year for QFES to support the work of the FRS, the Rural Fire Service (RFS), State Emergency Service (SES) and other partners.
“A key pillar of this year’s QFES Budget is funding to kickstart the addition of 357 new FRS firefighter positions over five years, which the Government promised to deliver, and I am pleased to say is being funded from today,” he said.
“More than $86 million will be spent between now and 2025 to grow the number of frontline FRS firefighters by more than 15 per cent based on current numbers.
“This equates to the largest single increase in FRS firefighters in Queensland history and demonstrates the Government’s commitment to ensuring QFES has the resources it needs to protect the community.”
Mr Ryan said the investment would coincide with the construction of strategically located FRS stations in high-growth areas.
“More than $70 million will be spent this financial year on 20 infrastructure projects, fleet and equipment including $16.1 million for a new station at Charlton, $3.6 million to begin work on the FRS station at Mt Cotton and a further $2.7 million to continue building the station at Yarrabilba,” he said.
“This is in addition to work already undertaken during 2020 to deliver new stations throughout the state, including at El Arish in the far north, Gracemere in central Queensland, Pimpama on the Gold Coast, Wooroolin in the Burnett, and Maleny in the Sunshine Coast hinterland.
“We know more is being asked of our firefighters, QFES staff and volunteers, so the Queensland Government is stepping up to provide the support they need to do their job.
“This forward-looking Budget lays the groundwork for QFES to meet the challenges of today and plan for what may confront the organisation in future.”
QFES Commissioner Greg Leach welcomed the addition of 357 new FRS firefighters over the next five years and said it came at an important time for the organisation.
“The challenges confronting QFES are rapidly evolving, as we have witnessed in recent years with severe bushfires, monsoons, cyclones and damaging storms impacting Queensland,” he said.
“This is placing greater demand on our frontline officers, staff and volunteers, which is why it is essential QFES continues to invest in its people to maintain an excellent fire and emergency service response.”
Mr Leach also welcomed the continuation of almost $900,000 in grants to QFES’ volunteer base, in addition to the more than $5.2 million that will be invested in the RFS fleet this financial year.
“These grants will assist with the cost of purchasing and maintaining facilities, vehicles and equipment for the SES and RFS,” he said.
“This will go a long way to supporting the incredible work they do in the community helping those in need.”