Ipswich to lose chemical sniffer fire truck

The specialist truck will be moved to Beenleigh in June. Picture: Supplied

Ipswich firefighters and communities from Esk and Gatton to Boonah will lose a lot more than a fire truck in June, when Queensland Fire and Emergency Services plans to move a specialist appliance from Ripley to Beenleigh.

The truck has equipment for detecting gases and handling hazardous materials including chemical spills and was meant to service Ipswich, Fassifern, Lockyer, and Somerset areas.

The 12 firefighters who underwent specialist training for this truck have also been asked to relocate.

Retired firefighter Bruce Beasley said it was the efforts of himself and three other firies who lobbied for the specialist equipment in response to the potential hazards associated with the Inland Rail project.

“When they said the Inland Rail was coming it was Bradley Dull who really pushed for it,” Mr Beasley said.

“He lives at Harrisville in the Fassifern, so he knew how serious it was because there was nothing there to service any of this.”

Mr Beasley said the specialist truck was established at Ipswich for good reason.

“It was actually an old truck and we sort of fitted it out ourselves with all the equipment needed,” he said.

“It’s been working really well for four years and now all of a sudden, it’s we don’t need it there, let’s send it to Logan district, so send it to Beenleigh and we’re going ‘who’s covering out here’.”

Mr Beasley said the response was that a similar truck was at Toowoomba.”

“That’s on the other side of Toowoomba. It takes them half an hour to get from their station up to the top of the range and then try and come down, whereas Ripley is central to everything.”

QFES said the decision was made as a result of regular monitoring and reviewing service delivery.

“The Fire and Rescue Service (FRS) BA/HAZMAT appliance currently located in the Ipswich command is a regional resource,” a spokesperson said.

“It will be relocated to Logan command by the end of June, with firefighters trained to operate the appliance given the option to transfer in line with the move.

“Decisions around regional resources are based on operational requirements to ensure a strong level of service to the community.”

The QFES spokesperson said specialist trucks were located throughout Queensland and all had a “level of capability” for BA/HAZMAT incidents.

“These specialist appliances are assigned to an incident when needed due to the hazard, scale or complexity of the incident,” they said.

“Ipswich, Fassifern, Lockyer, and Somerset areas are all serviced by multiple FRS stations. Kalbar has an auxiliary FRS station that provides a 24/7 response capability.

“QFES’ infrastructure needs are reviewed and prioritised annually.

The new Fire and Rescue station for the Greater Springfield region is currently in the design phase and will be an important addition to the area to cater for the current and predicted population growth.”

Mr Beasley said Kalbar did not have the capability to respond 24/7 to a chemical spill and had no appropriately experienced firefighters or specialist equipment.

He said a major spill was a real possibility with the Inland Rail coming through the region.

“It’s not a matter of if but a matter of when,” Mr Beasley said.

“When something major happens we could see people hurt or possibly lose their lives.

“The equipment will be too far away.”