In my post More on the Queensland Road Rules (November 26, 2012) I said that the Transport Operations (Road Use Management—Road Rules) Regulation 2009 (Qld) defined emergency worker as, inter alia ‘an officer of the Queensland Fire and Rescue Authority …’ I argued that a first officer of a rural brigade could fall within the definition of ‘an officer of the Queensland Fire and Rescue Authority’ for the purpose of that rule.

Today the Transport Operations (Road Use Management—Road Rules) Regulation 2009 (Qld) has a different definition. Today an emergency worker is, relevantly, ‘a fire officer under the Fire and Emergency Services Act 1990 or a fire and rescue service of another State’. Under the Fire and Emergency Services Act 1990 ‘fire officer’ means ‘means a person employed in the service who has the functions of fire prevention and fire control, and includes a person employed under this Act who is undergoing training as a fire officer’.

Any argument that may have applied where the reference was to an ‘officer’ can’t apply now. A ‘fire officer under the Fire and Emergency Services Act 1990’ is an employee. Just because a first officer can exercise the powers of an authorised fire officer (s 83) that doesn’t mean he or she is a fire officer, that is it doesn’t convert a volunteer to an employee.

What follows is that in my view since that amendment (which appears to have been made in 2014) a volunteer fire fighter is not an emergency worker for the purposes of the Transport Operations (Road Use Management—Road Rules) Regulation 2009 (Qld).  That means volunteers can’t claim any exemption from the road rules.

My post – More on the Queensland Road Rules (November 26, 2012) – was inspired by a commentator who wrote:

You note in your reply, or at least assume, that rural volunteer firefighters can drive an emergency vehicle in Qld under lights and sirens. How I wish that were true! The very sad fact is that a rural fire volunteer, even a volunteer officer, is not a fire officer as defined under the QFRS provisions. Hence, none of the road rule exemptions apply and all rural fire vehicles have to be driven in accordance with all road rules…’

On November 26, 2012 I thought that statement was wrong. On September 2, 2017 I think that commentator is now correct.

It follows that members of the Rural Fire Service can only operate a fire appliance as an emergency vehicle if there has been written authority provided by the Commissioner of Police.