Senior firey quits brigade over ‘insulting’ Blue Card call
A SENIOR firefighter with 40 years experience will hang up his yellow jacket for good in a principled stand against "insulting" government regulation.
He won't be the only one.
Rural Fire Service Blackwood first officer Wally Giumelli is against new rules which insist almost all Queensland Fire and Emergency Services staff and volunteers get Blue Cards, or undergo working with children checks.
At a shed meeting in Dumbleton on Saturday, irate volunteer firefighters asked visiting Queensland Fire and Emergency Services Assistant Commissioners why unpaid volunteers with little to no contact with children were expected to have the cards.
RFS firefighters were initially given a December 1 deadline to get their Blue Cards, an intense fire season pushed this back to March 31.
It is understood only 39 per cent of volunteer fire fighters have applied for the cards.
Mr Giumelli said he would be sad to walk away from the brigade, but there was "no way" the Kuttabul farmer would apply for a Blue Card.
"It is the biggest insult in my life that I've ever heard.
"I'm a family man. I am a volunteer, I work for my community … we look after our community.
"You're going to lose a lot more (volunteers) than me."
RFS volunteers who do not apply will be dropped from their brigades.
Mr Giumelli said he expected a large portion of the 2300 volunteers in the Mackay region to leave the service over the blue card fight.
Although he is hanging up his jacket, Mr Giumelli won't stop fighting fires which catch in the areas around his farm.
Without the support of the Rural Fire Service he is left with the risk that he and his equipment are uninsured if damaged.
"You can't get volunteers anymore and at this stage there won't be any. Who is going fight these fires."