The Rural Fire Brigades Association of Queensland is supplying 400 thermal imaging cameras to brigades across the state. Picture: RFBAQ
The Rural Fire Brigades Association of Queensland is supplying 400 thermal imaging cameras to brigades across the state. Picture: RFBAQ

New plan to improve firefighter safety during bushfires

EIGHT Rural Fire Brigades across the West Moreton region are now better equipped to manage out of control blazes.

Handheld thermal imaging cameras, a hi-tech device capable of identifying fire hot spots, were last month dispatched to brigades from Blenheim to Ripley Valley.

Rural Fire Brigades Association of Queensland general manager Justin Choveaux said the need for advanced equipment was identified following last year’s devastating bushfire season.

It comes after the charity last year put forward a grant application to the Rural Fire Brigade Service for approval to deliver 400 of the devices to stations across the state.

Brigades across the Lockyer Valley, Ipswich and Somerset - among which there are a total 279 active members - received the gadgets.

“We saw that in the 2019-20 fire seasons that there were many areas where fires would reignite,” he said.

A handheld thermal imaging camera. Picture: RFBAQ
A handheld thermal imaging camera. Picture: RFBAQ

“Areas had already been blackened and firefighters had moved on, but then a fire would pop up again where they’d just been three, four, five days before.

“These devices are going to allow for a more effective way to identify those roots burning underground.”

He said the cameras also improved firefighter safety during structure fires, offering clearer insight without having to enter buildings.

About 1400 Rural Fire Brigades currently defend 93 per cent of the state, along with combined total of 30,000 serving members.

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“We’ve been doing grants for many years and we were starting to see more individual brigade applications come in for thermal imaging cameras.”

He said just under 190 applications were submitted in the past six weeks.

“It’s a huge part of rural fire bridge work, to stop the fires flaring up later on,” Mr Choveaux said.

“The device allows you to see where roots and logs are burning underneath the ground.

The hi-tech devices will allow firefighters to identify hot spots, eliminating the chance of the fire possibly reigniting.
The hi-tech devices will allow firefighters to identify hot spots, eliminating the chance of the fire possibly reigniting.

“(The brigades) love them, it's one of those instances where everybody wanted to jump on board.”

Many of the squads who applied were in areas hit hardest by fires recently.

“By equipping brigades across the state, and in the West Moreton area, you’ll see that those cameras will be taken with them when they go on strike teams.”

He said southeast Queensland brigades possessed great “muscle power.”

“You’ve got most of those multi-truck brigades. Stations in your area have such value to the whole state because not only can they fight their own fires in a big season, but they can also export power to assist other communities,” he said.

Brigades who wish to apply for the grant can do so by clicking here.

WEST MORETON RECIPIENTS

Ripley Valley

Murphys Creek

Bryden

Lockyer Waters

Blenheim

Iredale Flagstone

Withcott

Fernvale

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Read more stories by Kaitlyn Smith here.



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