Coronavirus response hits Queensland’s fire hazard reduction strategy, bushfire royal commission told

17 July 2020

Published by

AUSTRALIA – The coronavirus pandemic response has impacted on hazard reduction efforts in the lead up to Queensland’s fire season, the bushfire royal commission has been told.

Queensland Fire and Emergency Services (QFES) Commissioner Greg Leach has given evidence via video link at the public hearings of the Royal Commission into National Natural Disaster Arrangements in Canberra.

Commissioner Leach said COVID-19 was consuming “a lot of our resources” in supporting Queensland’s response during a time when hazard reduction operations were underway.

“We’ve had to undertake physical distancing requirements as best we can with our crews,” he said.

He said QFES has had to plan operations around the impact of smoke on people who were recovering from COVID-19.

The royal commission heard Queensland had arranged for a “large air tanker” to help where required with this year’s fire season.

“That aircraft and crew will come from overseas and therefore we have to factor in whatever quarantining arrangements have got to be put in place in order for that aircraft to be operational by September 1,” Commissioner Leach told the hearing.

Last week, the Australian Seasonal Bushfire Outlook was published, predicting a normal fire season ahead for Queensland.

However, Commissioner Leach said if rain did not materialise, there was significant risk of “fast-running grass fires” this year, particularly around central and western Queensland where there was flooding earlier this year.

“That brought on significant grassland growth across much of central and western Queensland,” he said.

“Myself and a representative from the Bureau of Meteorology briefed the Queensland Government cabinet on that outlook last week,” he told the hearing.

Key points:

  • Commissioner Leach says the COVID-19 response is consuming a lot of QFES resources
  • He says a large air tanker will be on hand to help this fire season
  • Fire crews have to plan a response to take social distancing into account
Print Friendly, PDF & Email
WP-Backgrounds Lite by InoPlugs Web Design and Juwelier Schönmann 1010 Wien