Rural Fire at Beckmanns Road, Glenwood. Back burning operations on the Timmis property. Photo Greg Miller / The Gympie Times
Rural Fire at Beckmanns Road, Glenwood. Back burning operations on the Timmis property. Photo Greg Miller / The Gympie Times

100+ Gympie fireys could be banned in blue card showdown

NEARLY 20 per cent of Gympie’s Rural Fire Service volunteers have not yet applied for a blue card, and will be told to hand back their uniforms if they do not have one by the end of the month.

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The Queensland Fire and Emergency Service revealed how many of Gympie’s RFS and SES volunteers were still to apply for a blue card after issuing a warning to 4904 volunteers across the state this week.

Rural Fire Brigades Association Queensland general manager Justin Choveaux.
Rural Fire Brigades Association Queensland general manager Justin Choveaux.

That warning explained fireys would no longer be able to visit a fire station, drive a fire truck or even wear a uniform until they apply for a “blue card’’ criminal background check to work with children.

A QFES spokesperson said it had 650 volunteers in the Gympie local government area, and all of them were required to hold a blue card.

“This figure is made up of 580 Rural Fire Service and 70 State Emergency Service volunteers,” the spokesperson said.

“Eighty-one per cent (470) of RFS volunteers in the Gympie local government area who are required to hold a blue card have applied, with 19 per cent (110) still to apply.

Ken Cross of the Chatsworth Rural Fire Brigade.
Ken Cross of the Chatsworth Rural Fire Brigade.

“Ninety per cent (63) of State Emergency Service volunteers in the Gympie local government area who are required to hold a blue card have applied, with 10 per cent (7) still to apply.”

As many as 1000 volunteers from the RFS North Coast Region, which covers Gympie, Bundaberg, Hervey Bay and the Sunshine Coast and inland to the North and South Burnett, have been issued with registered letters ordering them to obtain a blue card by May 31.

Rural Fire Brigades Association general manager Justin Choveaux described the situation as a “complete balls-up” with a “big bushfire season” on the way.

Chatsworth Rural Fire Brigade veteran Ken Cross said the directive was “nearly an insult” and indicated a lack of trust from QFES.