QFES Acting Superintendent Brad Moore reflects on Queensland’s 2010-11 floods.
QFES Acting Superintendent Brad Moore reflects on Queensland’s 2010-11 floods.

Stranded on the job: Firey ‘couch surfed’ during floods

THE sight of Suncorp Stadium under deluge is one forever etched in the mind of former Ipswich firefighter Brad Moore.

While amazed at the surreal scene, it is that very moment which he said further highlighted the severity of Queensland's devastating 2010-11 floods.

Now, one decade on and 25 years into his career, the QFES Acting Superintendent reflected on the event which forever changed the Sunshine State - and tragically claimed 33 lives.

Mr Moore had only recently taken up rank as station officer at Brisbane's Roma Street prior to the floods.

His home, however, was in Ipswich - one he was unable to return to for more than a month.

"At that point in time I was trained in Level 2 Swift Water Rescue," he said.

"Anyone who had that training was called upon to potentially respond to incidents in their area or go to other areas to help out."

Immediate deployment to North Queensland, specifically Ingham, followed at Christmas 2010.

LOCAL NEWS: The day firefighters faced a wall of water

Thousands of people were impacted by the 2011 Queensland floods. This photo shows the Bremer River flooding at the southern end of the Trumpy Bridge, looking east along Bremer St.
Thousands of people were impacted by the 2011 Queensland floods. This photo shows the Bremer River flooding at the southern end of the Trumpy Bridge, looking east along Bremer St.

Visits to Halifax, Brisbane, St George, Dirranbandi and Condamine came soon after.

"We were sleeping on the floor of the ambulance station at Ingham," he said.

"Up until that point, it was quite weird for a city firefighter to hear that there's going to be these great big floods, we were probably more frightened than the locals."

His most precarious moment up north was not a swift water rescue specifically, but still an instance in which he and a colleague placed their lives in direct danger.

READ MORE: Ipswich landmarks forever changed by 2011 disaster

READ MORE: Anna Bligh: The floods moment I thought I failed

"We were guiding two electricity workers out to a post, we tried to paddle them out in the inflatable platform, but it was too much with their gear."

Instead, the two opted to wade through croc-infested waters flowing among sugar cane fields.

Their act of bravery was just another example of the many heroic tales to come from the floods.

"I went from sleeping in fire stations, sleeping in my car, I even couch surfed, it was wherever I could get a bed," Mr Moore said.

 

A Swift Water Rescue team was deployed to St George during the tragic weather event. Pic: file photo
A Swift Water Rescue team was deployed to St George during the tragic weather event. Pic: file photo

"But I wasn't alone, a lot of fireys were doing long hours, working 24 hours straight."

"That's because we were in a circumstance we had never been in before, so we were just doing the best we could, and everyone was working to capacity."

Tragically, it was the retrieval of a young man who drowned in waist deep water near Brisbane that will forever haunt him.

"Having a family present while you're searching for a loved one always sticks in your mind, it always will."

It is, however, widely unknown just how varied the responsibilities of firefighters were during the unprecedented times.

"We were helping people move furniture to higher ground every day, rescuing people trapped in cars, trapped in their homes," Mr Moore said.

READ MORE: January 2011, and the floods that changed everything

Motorised swift water rescue crafts were introduced following the floods a decade ago. PICTURE: STEWART McLEAN
Motorised swift water rescue crafts were introduced following the floods a decade ago. PICTURE: STEWART McLEAN

"But we also provided damage assessments to local and State Governments which detailed how many people had been displaced and shaped how the Governments responded."

"You could not have written a script for the different types of things you were exposed to during that time."

The introduction of motorised boats, child-sized life jackets and new technology also came as result of the floods.

"There have been a lot of leanings from our point of view."

While marred by tragedy, Mr Moore said he would never forget the outpouring of generosity from communities.

"When we were going around doing the damage assessments, you had these carloads of people turn up from everywhere and they would just walk up to a house and started helping out," he said.

"I've never seen something that big of a scale, where people's kindness was put on such display."



Uber driver on trial for alleged rape of teen passenger

Premium Content Uber driver on trial for alleged rape of teen passenger

Uber driver accused of rape allegedly ‘kept victim’s license’

Sibling fighters prepare for biggest match ups yet

Premium Content Sibling fighters prepare for biggest match ups yet

A debut cage fight and battle for an Australian title is on the cards for this...

Illegal sign writer hit with $30,000 in fines

Premium Content Illegal sign writer hit with $30,000 in fines

A man who has become notorious for displaying political signs at his home has...