FIRE BRIGADES without fire trucks — arguably the most needy of all community defenders — are being advised that they only have a few weeks left to apply for $50,000 in 50 individual lots.
The 50 individual grants of $1,000 are being made available by the Rural Fire Brigades Association Queensland (RFBAQ), Rural Fire Service Queensland (RFSQ) and Queensland Fire and Emergency Services (QFES) — and by responding via a simple application process, the money could pay for a range of much-needed items.
The PPB Community Defence Grant Program — for brigades without a fire trucks — closes in just over a month, and the RFBAQ needs more brigades to apply for funding before the closing date of Monday, March 20.
And the brigade is taking a simplistic approach in a red-tape-filled world if they get too many applications:
“If we get more grant applications that we have budget for, both the RFBAQ and QFES will have a dig behind the couch to find some more money for the brigades.”
Apparently portable UHF radios are among the most commonly requested equipment from those brigades that have already applied for this grant.
The radios improve members’ safety, they can be bought from local suppliers, are easy to set-up, and work well with the CB radios used by landholders in their private equipment and vehicles.
The Champion Rural Fire Brigade needs two hand-held waterproof UHF radios and two travel packs. The brigade, which covers 1,708 square kilometres, will use them to improve its members’ capabilities and safety.
“…And (the radios will) enhance the operational capability of the brigade to deliver a professional service to the brigade area,” the brigade said in its application.
Having access to portable radio equipment will make the job much easier for Orange Creek Rural Fire Brigade.
“We are seeking assistance to acquire a UHF for our brigade,” the brigade noted. “We have been at a very large fire in the past — in hilly country — that was several kilometres wide. The town brigade was in charge, (but) we had no communication with them so we didn’t know what was happening.”
PPB Community Defence Grant applicants are also using individual funding to pay for chainsaws, torches, water coolers, fencing pliers, radio pouches and petrol blowers.
These are grassroots, real and practical items required by brigades that have no bank accounts or brigade income.
Brigades that receive a rural fire levy would generally purchase this type of equipment or supplies without a second thought.
The majority of grants so far are coming from brigades in the central highlands, central-west and Gladstone area, with smaller numbers from the Burnett and Cairns Areas. The southern border country and south-west have yet to send grant requests in.
The grant process also means the RFBAQ can lobby the Rural Fire Service to add the most popular items to the free stores catalogue so this equipment will be available to all Primary Producer Brigades (PPBs) across Queensland well into the future.
Applications close on Monday, March 20, 2017.