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Redland City Council has received a report reviewing the way Council manages the risk of fire, including on the Southern Moreton Bay Islands (SMBIs).

The 89-page report, by Queensland Fire and Emergency Services’ Training and Emergency Management Unit, contains 56 recommendations and was commissioned by Council following wildfires on Macleay Island in November 2016 and Russell Island in December 2016.

Mayor Karen Williams said Council had already proactively implemented a number of actions independent of the review and would use the recommendations to continue planning for the safety and resilience of the Redlands community.

“This report has recommended a more proactive approach to maintenance to reduce the risk of fire across the whole of Redland City, with a renewed focus on community safety,” she said.

“We have asked the CEO to report back to Council within three months to outline Council’s response to and progress of the review’s recommendations.

The report’s recommendations fall into six key areas:

  1. reducing illegal dumping and hoarding

  2. improving the resilience and disaster preparedness of residents

  3. ensuring emergency response capacity across multiple agencies

  4. reviewing maintenance plans and access trails

  5. looking at Local Laws and legislation

  6. providing local access to water and fire hydrants.

Cr Williams said Council had already increased its focus on cleaning up areas on Russell Island since the fires, beginning with areas carrying heavy fuel loads such as dumped green waste.

“Many of the recommendations in the report support actions Council has already commenced following the fires last summer.”

Since January this year, Council has:

  • held 200 hours of community engagement across the city, including the ‘Street Speaks’ program, to raise awareness of the need to be prepared for a disaster event

  • slashed 172,533m2 of land over 259 blocks on the Southern Moreton Bay Islands to reduce the direct fire risk

  • carried out six weeks of work to remove potentially dangerous trees from beside roadways on the Southern Moreton Bay Islands

  • commenced incorporating the latest QFES Fire Management mapping into the Redland Disaster Management Plan

  • commenced work on updating the current Disaster Management Plan for the city to ensure it includes the latest available technology, mapping and census data

  • used the latest Simulation Analysis Based Risk Evaluation Technology (SABRE) to assess the probability of fire behaviour based on wind, humidity and temperature conditions

  • written to the Federal Minister for Communications Mitch Fifield about improving the telecommunications infrastructure on the Southern Moreton Bay Islands.

Cr Williams said Council would continue to lobby the State and Federal Governments for greater recognition of the isolation of the Southern Moreton Bay Islands in the Greater Brisbane region.

“This isolation results in a requirement for greater resources for protection and preparedness for the community,” Cr Williams.

“The Southern Moreton Bay Islands should be treated like regional Queensland in terms of State and Federal Government funding due to their isolation.”

Cr Williams said over recent years Council had recognised strong support in the broader community for conserving areas of ecological value.

“Following the wildfires on the islands, this report has recommended a better balance between community safety and protecting the environment.

“We will always put the welfare of our people first and will take the feedback on board.

“This is an extremely thorough review, drawing on data analysis, field inspections, assessments of fuel loads, community consultation and advanced modelling techniques.

“The fact that many of the identified actions are already part of Council’s business as usual operations and have been stepped up since the fires, shows we’re on the right track.

“We’ll use this review to reinforce our commitment to fire mitigation and preparation.”

“Council will also continue to encourage all land owners to look for opportunities to maintain their properties to reduce the risk of fire.”

North Stradbroke Island is not included in this review as a multi-agency fire management group was established following the 2014 fires on the island and this group continues to deliver fire management advice across the island.

For more information, see Redland City Council’s website

Community members are invited to provide feedback via email:

• Handing of the Fire Report to council (l to r): QFES Assistant Commissioner Andrew Short; Redland City Councillor Mark Edwards; Mayor Redland City, Karen Williams; QFES Deputy Commissioner, Mark Roach; QFES Superintendent, Andrew Sprizzi.

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