DESPERATE CALL: Grantham Rural Fire Brigade members Gilda Tate, Cherrie Brennan-Long and Kameron Jeffrey are calling for new members ahead of the fire season.
DESPERATE CALL: Grantham Rural Fire Brigade members Gilda Tate, Cherrie Brennan-Long and Kameron Jeffrey are calling for new members ahead of the fire season. Dominic Elsome

Early fire season prompts search for new fire fighters

WITH this year's fire season expected to start early and be worse, rural firefighters have issued an urgent call-to-arms to locals.

Grantham Rural Fire Brigade are searching for more members to take up the cause and protect their community.

Brigade third officer and volunteer community educator Gilda Tate said with just six active members, the station needed new blood ahead of the next fire season.

"We need to get them trained up so that at least we have more feet on the ground instead of wearing out the old feet,” Ms Tate said.

"It's trying not to wear out your members and look after their health and well being as well so if we can get new people in that helps us manage that through the fire season. Our window (for training) is closing very rapidly.”

With just half a dozen active volunteers, a long fire season could see members burn out with nearby brigades, who were likely in similar positions, needing to assist in the event of fires.

"It puts more burden on them,” she said.

"If we can engage the public into assisting us, we don't burden the brigades that are close to us.”

To help get more residents involved, the brigade are hosting a recruitment morning at Grantham Fuels next Friday.

Ms Tate said Rural Fire Brigades were run by volunteers and encouraged locals to get involved.

"It completely voluntary, all we ask of the people when they join is they put in as much time as they can spare,” she said.

"Everyone is time poor, and we realise that, we just encourage people if they do have the spare time and would like to learn a new skill, come on in.”

The event runs from 7-10am, and the brigade will be providing bacon and egg burger for a gold coin donation.

Early, dangerous fire season worries Rural Fire Service

TIME is running out for landowners to prepare for the next fire season, and firefighters warn it will be long and hot.

Rural Fire Service superintendent Wayne Waltisbuhl said last year's fire season started in July, and this year's was likely to start then as well.

"People should have been starting (preparations) in April,” Supt Waltisbuhl said.

"The window will close pretty quick again I think... the opportunities are there right now.”

He said last year's fire season had been a wake up call for many.

Grantham Fire Brigade first officer John Schultz is also worried, and said conditions were bad across the Lockyer Valley.

"We are looking at a bad season because we've had a little bit of rain which given us a little bit of growth but then its all died off during the frosts,” Mr Schultz said.

Low soil moisture also meant fuel was drying faster and would be more available for a fire to use.

With time quickly running out, Mr Schultz said landowners need to act now.

"They need to be preparing now. Time's up - it's gone,” he said.

Supt Waltisbuhl said preparations didn't always require reduction burns.

"If you're on acreage blocks, you don't need to burn your paddocks and remove the fuel - black isn't always the answer,” he said.

Strong fire breaks along the perimeter of a property was just as important.

He also urged landowners to ensure they had a fire plan in place, including what they would do with livestock on their properties and whether they would stay and defend their property or leave early.

"It's a natural thing for people to panic a bit and don't start to think clearly, but if they have a plan that they've sat down and thought about and documented then it's easy for them to refer to that,” he said.

For more information and assistance, refer to the Rural Fire Service website www. ruralfire.qld.gov.au.


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