Four fire trucks sent to false alarm
WHEN a report of smoke issuing from an old piggery was made to triple zero, three Lockyer Valley fire stations responded, sending four trucks, sirens blaring, to the scene.
Laidley Fire Station auxiliary captain Craig Barrett said the response was standard for the kind of fire reported.
"Because it's reported as smoke billowing from a structure, the standard response is to send two stations and Laidley and Forest Hill responded,” Mr Barrett said.
He said they initially headed to the piggery but that there was no sign of a fire so they investigated the nearby chicken farm.
When crews arrived they discovered a load of grain had been delivered and had just been unloaded, causing dust from the grain to billow into a great airborne cloud.
"The excess dust had spilled on the ground and they got blowers and blew the dust off the concrete slab around the silo and got rid of it,” he said.
"That created another cloud of dust which I assume somebody has seen. And they've thought it was smoke coming up and they've rung triple zero and reported it.”
Mr Barrett said the station rarely received false alarm calls but that they generally fit into one of two categories: well intentioned calls and petty neighbourhood disputes.
"Someone has had good intentions and reported what they thought was a fire,” he said.
"Occasionally we get neighbourhood disputes where their neighbour burns some rubbish in their backyard and they report it as an uncontrolled bonfire.”
A false alarm could direct resources away from where they're needed, posing a problem if a fire were to break out elsewhere.
"In reality we had four four urban responses and one rural response to the fire, which is the standard response when it's reported as a structure fire,” he said.
"The fact it was a false alarm could have been an issue if there had been a real fire somewhere else.”
Mr Barrett urges anyone who believes they have seen a fire to call triple zero but that there was a fine line involved.
"It's better to be on the safe side rather than not report a potential fire,” he said.
"If they're concerned enough to report it but then see what appeared to be smoke has turned out to be nothing, they should call back and update that report because FireComm can always downgrade that response
"That way they're not sending all those resources. They'll probably send one crew to investigate and make sure there isn't a fire but they probably won't send four trucks.”
Queensland Fire and Emergency Service Gatton area commander Ross Mutzelburg said a fire could get worse if left unattended.
"If it turns out it is a real fire, it can worsen if not attended to,” Mr Mutzelburg said.
"We'd rather go to something and find out it's not a fire than the other way around.”