Back on 26 October 2022, Queensland’s Minister for Fire and Emergency Services announced the development of ‘Enhanced emergency services for Queenslanders following independent review’. The government promised more staff and money. They also announced
… the establishment of a new Queensland fire department, while the Queensland Police Service will have primary responsibility for disaster response and coordination.
The fire department will have a clear focus on fire prevention, response and control.
It will encompass the Fire and Rescue Service and the Rural Fire Service as a separate entity with its own dedicated budget.
The reform will also see the State Emergency Service and volunteer marine rescue services – to be named Marine Rescue Queensland- aligned more closely with, and hosted by, the Queensland Police Service.
See also Heidi Sheehan, ‘Major shake-up of Queensland’s emergency services sees budgets and frontline workers boosted’ ABC News (Online) Wednesday 26 Oct 2022.
I am yet to see any legislation to give effect to these changes but first impressions are:
- It sounds like a bit of ‘back to the future’. The last major reform of Queensland emergency services legislation was in 2014 with the Passage of the Public Safety Business Agency Bill 2014 (Qld) (May 8, 2014). That Act (as it became) transferred responsibility for the State Emergency Service from the old Emergency Management Queensland (EMQ) to the new Fire and Emergency Service bringing the Queensland Fire and Rescue Service (as it was) the Rural Fire Service and the SES all under the command of the Commissioner of the (now) Fire and Emergency Services. Taking the SES away from QFES and placing it under the command of Police sounds like the government is disentangling the relationships created in 2014.
- Hopefully this will give the Parliament the chance to draft afresh the Queensland legislation and remove many of the anomalies and confusion around the legal status of volunteer fire brigades see:
- Malone inquiry into Queensland Rural Fire Service and volunteer protection (April 30, 2013);
- A further review of the Malone Inquiry into the Queensland Rural Fire Brigades (June 11, 2013);
- Status of Queensland Rural Fire Brigades (September 10, 2014);
- Revisiting the status of volunteer rural fire brigades in Queensland (March 9, 2018);
- Rural Fire Brigades as part of Queensland Fire and Emergency Services (not Queensland Fire and Emergency Service) (August 6, 2018);
- Gaps in Queensland fire legislation exposed in failed prosecution (October 23, 2022); and
- Gaps in Queensland fire legislation exposed in failed prosecution – Part 2 (October 28, 2022).
This blog is made possible with generous financial support from the Australasian College of Paramedicine, the Australian Paramedics Association (NSW), Natural Hazards Research Australia, NSW Rural Fire Service Association and the NSW SES Volunteers Association. I am responsible for the content in this post including any errors or omissions. Any opinions expressed are mine, and do not necessarily reflect the opinion or understanding of the donors.