A rural fire brigade west of Toowoomba has lost several members over safety concerns.
A rural fire brigade west of Toowoomba has lost several members over safety concerns. Contributed

Rural firefighters quit brigade over safety concerns

A MASSIVE walk-off of volunteer rural firefighters over safety concerns has rocked a small town in the Toowoomba region.

First officer Ron Whelan and at least five other members of the Leyburn Rural Fire Brigade quit after a special meeting on Monday.

The walk-off was related to concerns Mr Whelan raised during a debriefing last week with other brigades and the Rural Fire Service Queensland regarding a large fire that occurred in Elbow Valley about three weeks ago.

It's understood Mr Whelan voiced concerns that he and his second officer were instructed to fight the fire in an unsafe position that made them fear for their safety and caused damage to the truck.

Rural Fire Service Queensland's Darling Downs acting area director John Welke confirmed the resignations and that the concerns were voiced, adding that crews from other brigades did not share the same feelings about the incident.

"Certainly, Ron as the first officer did voice his concerns," he said.

"His concerns seemed legitimate. - the other three or four officers were at the debrief said it was hot, but it was nowhere near what Ron had described."

Hot weather -No fires: QFES Inspector Pater Bradow announces a fire ban in the Toowoomba Region due to hot weather conditions.

Leyburn firefighters told The Chronicle all but two active current members had quit their posts, something disputed by Mr Welke.

"To put it in perspective, there were eight people at the meeting, six people have resigned and they have 48 members on the books," he said.

"The brigade has decided to have several members quit."

But it is believed several volunteers who were listed as members were retired, no longer available or had moved away.

Mr Welke said the brigade was effectively in administration, with neighbouring brigades to be used in case of an emergency.

"We'll hold a public meeting with the town and the remaining members to form the brigade again, and duly elect a new executive," he said.