Rockhampton readies for increased bushfire threat
Years of wet conditions have contributed to a significant grass fuel load, heightening the risk of an intense fire season. Rockhampton Regional Council, along with councils across Queensland, are taking precautions to prepare.
The Council received funding of more than $1.58 million for five projects under the Black Summer Bushfire Recovery grants program. The Program is helping communities address priorities and activities for recovery and resilience after the 2019-20 Black Summer bushfires.
Building Rockhampton bushfire resilience
With $250,000 in funding from the Black Summer Bushfire Recovery grants program, the Council was able to appoint experienced fire response manager Colin May to the role of Bushfire Resilience Officer.
On the responsibilities of the position, Colin says, “The Bushfire Resilience Officer role inserts a dedicated Rockhampton Regional Council employee into a lot of fire management groups and community groups specifically focusing on bushfire mitigation and response.
“It’s been shown that mitigation and preparation can reduce the costs of disasters, compared to just responding to calls for help. That’s where this Bushfire Resilience role comes in, you’re able to tap into local communities but also other agencies.”
Colin and the Council work collaboratively with Queensland Fire and Emergency Services, Queensland National Parks, the Department of Resources, as well as rural and urban fire brigades, to address high-risk bushfire areas. Colin identified Ridgelands as a community that would benefit from funding to increase the region's firefighting response capacity.
Increasing bushfire response capacity for Ridgelands
Around thirty-five kilometres west of Rockhampton, you’ll find Ridgelands, a community on Darumbal Country.
As part of the Black Summer Bushfire Recovery grants program, the Council received $50,000 for quick access water pumps. The pumps were installed in a number of communities, including Ridgelands, Mount Morgan and Stanwell, to provide the local fire service with quick access to water during very dry seasons.
Colin said Ridgelands was an ideal spot for connecting water to the rest of the region, “Ridgelands is centrally located and it has a large open area where we can bring fire trucks in, even to the point where we can bring helicopters in if we need to.”
Following on from the Black Summer Bushfire Recovery grant, Council is now exploring how improved road surfacing to and from the pump could increase response times. They are also working with Queensland Fire and Emergency Services (QFES) to build a stand for helicopters to draw water in times of emergency.
“Funding from the Australian Government has been critical in these projects in terms of preparing our community and all of the communities around us for the upcoming fire season,” says Colin.