Caption: Maleny Rural Fire Brigade and State Emergency Service are seeking community help to secure their own permanent fire station. Photo: Contributed
By Richard Bruinsma
The Maleny Rural Fire Brigade is in a bizarre and unbelievable predicament of being forced to move out of their “cattle shed” headquarters every time there’s a major event at Maleny Showgrounds.
Caption: Conducting training in emergency car accident extractions. Photo: Maleny RFB
During the annual show, for example, their trucks and firefighting equipment are placed in separate storage, to allow for sawdust to be spread on the floor before the dairy cows are brought in.
But, as you can imagine, when they eventually return to their headquarters after the show, the firefighters are forced to train with the lingering stench left behind from cattle waste and urine.
“After … all the saw dust is cleared out, they have to hose out the shed and then it has to be left open for at least a week to air it out,” Maleny RFB secretary and 5th Officer Jared Ashcroft said.
“They put a saw dust on the floor to soak up the pee, but it gets into the concrete and we have to use deodoriser to get rid of the smell.
“It’s six or seven weeks later that we still have a smell in that shed, and it’s really really strong, it’s not a nice odour.”
Despite thorough and complete cleaning, that strong cattle smell remains.
Caption: The Maleny Rural Fire Brigade conducting a safety burn at Witta Church. Photo: Maleny RFB
The Maleny brigade uses the cattle shed to securely store its three fire trucks and a support vehicle and all its equipment.
However, during the evictions, their trucks are stored with the Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service and the rest of the equipment placed in storage.
The firefighters can’t train properly in the weeks they are out of the shed. Then they often use the nights meant for training to move their equipment in and out.
“It makes it really hard for a community like Maleny that relies on our services as such, but at the same time it delays our response times if we get called out,” Mr Ashcroft said.
Caption: The Maleny Rural Fire Brigade was joined by other brigades to fighting a house fire at Conondale in September 2015. Photo: Maleny RFB
“We want a place where we can store our trucks and store our equipment and do our training, and not be kicked out repeatedly.
“As far as I know, we’re the only station in Queensland that has to move out of our buildings for shows or other events.”
A new shed for the fire brigade would also mean the cattle pavilion can also be better used for local events.
The Maleny RFB covers an area of more than 110 square kilometres, and responds to incidents including grass fires and house fires. They also do a lot of community relations work and help out with fundraising with many community events and charities.
Caption: The fire brigade participates in many community events and fundraisers. Here one of the fire trucks and crew drive in Maleny’s Anzac Day parade. Photo: Maleny RFB
“Most of the firefighters are fed up with moving all the time,” Mr Ashcroft said.
“What we want is the community to rally behind us and support us to get what we need.”
The brigade is also hoping for further help from the State Government.
In the meantime, they have set up a funding page at https://chuffed.org/project/maleny-rfb-new-fire-truck-and-station
Donors can select their own amount. Donations over $2 are tax deductible.
The SES shares the same shed and faces the same predicament.
Update: Powell responds to Maleny fire station worries (Published 23 March 2016)
Member for Glass House Andrew Powell has responded to the Maleny Rural Fire Brigade and its urgent need for a permanent dedicated headquarters.
The Maleny RFB currently has to regularly vacate their premises at Maleny Showgrounds when events are held, including making way for dairy cattle during the annual show.
“I have been working with the Maleny RFBS and Maleny SES, as well as with the Maleny Show Society, for several months to try and find a solution to their problem,” Mr Powell said.
“Normally I am stubbornly supportive of multiple use sites like the showgrounds but in this case I completely sympathise with the firies and SES. The annual “bump out”, “bump in” and contending with the lingering odour is less than ideal for these volunteers who tirelessly work to protect our entire community.
“The meetings Cr Jenny McKay and I have held have shown the best alternatives are potentially council land. I stand ready and willing to assist in the relocation – including state government funding should it be necessary – but first and foremost we need to find the best new home.
“I am certain that once the hiatus caused by the local government election is over the Council will be able to identify a suitable site and we can get stuck in to moving the rural firies and SES.”