Veteran firey to lose job over blue card fiasco
NOME Rural Fire Brigade first officer Wayne Krogh will likely lose his position as the Queensland Fire and Emergency Service cracks down on people who did not sign up for a blue card.
Thousands of Queensland firefighters missed the March 31 blue card deadline. Mr Krogh said only about a quarter of his small brigade applied for one.
After the deadline, QFES regional manager Tony Hazell said about 40 per cent of rural firefighters who did not apply for their blue card in the northern region would not have a significant impact on brigade operations.
But Mr Krogh, who has been with the Nome Rural Fire Brigade for 35 years, said he was concerned about the small brigade's ability to respond to incidents if the decision was followed through.
"It will put more pressure on the volunteers," he said. "Every volunteer that we are short makes it harder and harder.
"That is the greatest concern. We are already short of volunteers. Some brigades have got 70 volunteers, others have half a dozen or a dozen. They can't afford to even lose one."
Mr Krogh said the majority of the people in his brigade "do not see the sense in the blue card".
While many of them would qualify, including himself, Mr Krogh said it was a "bureaucratic problem".
"It's obviously a directive that was given by the Government to the rural fire service and because of that, it is not clear in the legislation that we actually have to have it," he said.
"My biggest concern is not necessarily for our brigade here. We still turn out with our own private gear if they remove us, but a lot of people that I talk to … are just going to walk away.
"They're not interested, they can't see the sense in it, they're most upset that it is bureaucracy gone mad."
Earlier this month, News Corp reported the QFES would write to brigades and suggest all members who did not apply for the blue card to have their membership revoked.
Burdekin MP Dale Last said the government had this "so wrong".
"What we need to do is find the right balance between protecting children and protecting communities," he said.
"Volunteer firefighters have every right to think that the current government has disrespected them and ignored their calls to be listened to.
"I have had long-term volunteers telling me entire brigades will cease to exist."
State Fire and Emergency Services Minister Craig Crawford said he wanted to keep young people safe and one way to do that was to ensure QFES staff and volunteers had a blue card.
"It's ironic the LNP has accused the Palaszczuk Government of disrespecting and ignoring the volunteer firefighters' concerns, given the LNP didn't oppose the Working with Children Act," Mr Crawford said.
"The first officer of Nome Rural Fire Brigade can still apply for a blue card, if they change their mind.
"QFES has informed me there are sufficient resources to maintain an effective fire and emergency response to the community."
Originally published as Veteran firey to lose job over blue card fiasco