2019 bushfire review finds strong mitigation and preparedness

An independent review of the September 2019 bushfires found Queensland’s preparedness and response was highly effective in saving property and reducing the severity of fires at Stanthorpe, Sarabah and Peregian Springs.

Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said the review undertaken by Queensland’s Inspector-General Emergency Management (IGEM) highlighted strong and continuous enhancement in the state’s bushfire preparedness, mitigation and overall firefighting response.

“The 2019 Review found examples of good practice implemented by state and local agencies including integration of the State Emergency Service (SES) in the bushfire response,” Ms Palaszczuk said.

“With SES workers trained to replenish waterbombers, aircraft were able to return to the skies within three minutes.

“This was a phenomenal response to extraordinary conditions.”

More than a million hectares throughout the state were control-burned last year to manage fire risk and less than two per cent of Queensland’s 2019 bushfires started in national parks.

Since 2015, more than 3.9 million hectares has been burned in National Parks.

Minister for Fire and Emergency Services Craig Crawford said pre-season mitigation burns helped save Stanthorpe.

“What this report shows us is targeted burns around community assets are highly-effective,” Mr Crawford said.

“Predictive technology forecast the Stanthorpe fire would put the town in danger, but with containment lines in place, the blaze was stopped.

“The State Operations Centre was also supported by Queensland Police Service, Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service and Queensland Ambulance Service liaison officers, facilitating proactive inter-agency cooperation.

“We pride ourselves on a culture of continuous improvement in Queensland to ensure our disaster management arrangements remain world-class and keep our communities safe.

“We continue to look for further enhancements, particularly with fireground radio communications and more integration of liaison officers.”

Inspector-General Emergency Management Alistair Dawson APM said the 2019 Review commenced three months after the tabling of the 2018 Queensland Bushfires Review.

“Our focus was on gathering observations and insights about what worked well, new innovations and any areas for improvements,” Mr Dawson said.

“The review team heard many acts of bravery and community resilience.

“We heard stories about commitment, courage and resourcefulness of all involved including volunteer and fulltime firefighters, SES, police and emergency services, and members of the community.”

Mr Dawson said the Review found the Queensland Government is well-placed in implementing the recommendations from the 2018 Queensland Bushfires Review

“The 2019 Review notes the work already undertaken in finalising the recommendations from the 2018 report tabled in July 2019, which has been supported by strong innovative practice and lessons learned from the previous fires.”

Three recommendations from the 2018 report have been implemented and work on a further recommendation is well underway.

A copy of the 2019 Queensland Bushfires Review is available from the Office’s website at: www.igem.qld.gov.au

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