COUNCILLOR Paul Tully has blamed poor maintenance by Queensland Urban Utilities (QUU) for a near five-minute delay in water being deployed by firefighters from a gravel-covered fire hydrant to a burning home this week.
Cr Tully said Ipswich firefighters were "severely hampered" during Monday's Park St house fire as they "searched in vain" for almost five minutes to locate the fire hydrant.
But QUU have defended their record and a Queensland Fire and an Emergency Services (QFES) spokesperson said "there was no delay in the firefighting response".
Cr Tully said he was one of the first witnesses to the fire. He released 25 videos and images he took that he said show "a delay of 4 minutes 16 seconds between the arrival of the first of eight fire units and when water was initially deployed on the burning building".
He said when the first unit arrived just after 11:57am the house "was well-alight but may have been partly salvaged if the fire hydrant adjacent to the building had been visible".
He said "a major tragedy" could have unfolded if residents had been trapped in the building. Cr Tully said QUU had done a "woeful job" in keeping essential fire hydrants clean and accessible.
"Heads should roll over this.
"QUU owes the occupants of the building and the people of Ipswich a massive apology over this debacle. The Queensland Fire Service did a remarkable job under extremely difficult conditions to stop the fire spreading to adjoining properties."
The QFES spokesperson said "claims that firefighting operations were 'severely hampered' whilst firefighters 'searched in vain' for almost five minutes to locate a fire hydrant are not true.
"Firefighters already had water on neighbouring properties and were working during this time to connect hoses to hydrants and to the fire appliance, a process which takes several minutes. This is standard firefighting operations.
"Firefighters reported dirt over one hydrant, but this did not delay their response as several hydrants had been identified en route to the fire and alternate hydrants were accessed."
QUU chief operating officer, Robin Lewis said his organisation "is currently testing water pressure, flow and accessibility of fire hydrants in Ipswich" as part of a $4million rolling maintenance program.
He said QUU "responds to requests from the Queensland Fire and Rescue Service for corrective maintenance".
"We have not received any requests this week for corrective maintenance in Park St, Ipswich," he said.
See Cr Tully's images and video at youtube.com/user/PaulGTully