In June 2017, Council received a comprehensive report reviewing all aspects of fire management across the Redlands, including the mainland and the Southern Moreton Bay Islands (SMBIs).
Prepared by the Training and Emergency Management Unit of Queensland Fire and Emergency Service, The Redland City Council – Fire Management Plan Review Report 2017 [PDF, 15.8MB] was commissioned following wildfires on Macleay and Russell Islands in 2016.
Council has committed to and has been actively responding to all 56 recommendations contained in the 89-page report.
In recent years, the broader community has expressed a strong desire to conserve areas of ecological value, but this report shows we need to strike a better balance between protecting the community safety and protecting the environment.
The report recommended a more proactive approach to reducing the risk of fire on the islands and parts of the mainland, with a renewed focus on community safety.
The report’s 56 recommendations fall into six separate categories:
- Reducing illegal dumping and hoarding
- Improving the resilience and disaster preparedness of residents
- Ensuring emergency response capacity across multiple agencies
- Reviewing maintenance plans and access trails
- Looking at Local Laws and legislation
- Providing local access to water and fire hydrants.
By October 2018, 48 (86%) of the recommendations were complete with all remaining recommendations progressed above 75%.
The following reflect some of the key actions and outcomes in response to the 2017 Fire Review Report:
- Property Clean up - Launched in August 2017, major ‘Spring Clean-up communication campaign was conducted by Council to encourage better community preparation of properties in event of disasterin conjunction with work being performed by Council's operational crews on Council owned/managed land. The extensive campaign included a major direct mail out of a clean-up letter to all residents and vacant land owners on SMBI and the southern mainland suburbs of Mt Cotton, Sheldon and Redland Bay together with leaflet drops, community posters, media releases, social media digital profiles, distribution and advertising on passenger ferries, media editorials as well as regular print media advertising.
- Raising community awareness - Between October 2017 to April 2018 alone, Council’s Disaster Management Group, SES and Volunteer Community Champions initiated regular ‘Street Speaks’; had visible presence at events attended by an estimated 25,000 or more people, and presented to community organisations, markets, libraries, schools and clubs. This outreach and community education work continues.
- Simplified Disaster Management Plan access. Simplified Disaster Management Plans have been produced and provided to every household on SMBI and North Stradbroke Island in DL size brochures containing essential disaster information specific to local areas.
- Provide guidance on local laws and obligations - Council has developed and widely circulated a comprehensive brochure on vegetation, fire and property management expressly designed to increase community knowledge and support obligations to reduce fire hazards, including Local Laws obligations. A community survey was conducted to measure community understanding of their local law obligations and responsibilities.
- Know your Neighbour Campaign - A special “Know your neighbour” campaign has been conducted through community advertising and distributed in hard copy providing information on how residents can make contact with their neighbours to support clean-up of properties and provide social network support in emergencies.
- Extended waste transfer hours - The clean-up campaign has included an extended seven day per week trial of Macleay and Russell Island waste transfer station opening hours commenced on the 18 September 2017. On 24 October 2018 Council General Meeting resolved to continue the seven day operation at Russell Island and Macleay Island Waste Transfer Stations.
- Clean up-enforcement - Proactive compliance assessments have been carried out weekly to identify and reduce fire hazards. Enforcement processes have been revised in respect to overgrown properties to reduce compliance times. Infringement notices will not be issued if landowners provide evidence agreeing to undertake a regular maintenance. By December 2018 the proactive compliance program had resulted in an assessment of approximately 4,000 properties on Russell Island with the majority identified as compliant and continuing assessment over approximately 235 properties.
- The Safer SMBI Campaign continued in 2018 with the release of the “Spring Clean SMBI” and Southern Redlands advertising, including local media and letterbox drops. Through ‘Operation Knock Knock” Redland SES door knocked the residents of Rocky Point and Sandy Beach on Russell Island to discuss disaster preparedness and evacuation arrangements.
- Fire danger rating signs and fact sheets have been updated and published to raise awareness of disaster preparedness. As at January 2019, draft community emergency information signs have been designed for each of the Southern Moreton Bay Islands, detailing localised island map and key emergency contact information. The draft signs have been submitted for review and it is anticipated they will be available for installation at key island locations shortly.
- Fuel loads, maintenance plans and fire trails - Areas across the city requiring this work were inspected, assessed and costed as part of Council’s business as usual operational maintenance. The planned bush clearing program has resulted in the proactive slashing of 15km of fuel reduction zones and 17ha of whole blocks on the Bay Islands and 68km of fuel reduction zones on the Mainland and 3,562m2 of whole blocks. Works have also resulted in the clearing of 17 new fuel reduction zones on Russell Island totalling 1.6kms. The planned fire trails program has resulted in the clearing of 16 fire access trails on Russell Island totalling 5.5kms.
- Planned Burn Information. In 2018 Council recommenced controlled burns as part of the seasonal program of fire mitigation burns and published its Planned Burn Schedule for community information. By December 2018 the planned fire back burning program had resulted in 17 planned burns completed totalling 76.5 ha (10 on the mainland, 5 Russell Island and 2 on NSI).
- Telecommunications Emergency Response Capacity - Council successfully presented the case for the SMBI to be identified as a Federal Government’s telecommunications “Black Spot Program” and received advice of approval for the funding and installation of additional telecommunications towers on the SMBI.
- Engagement and strengthening of emergency relationships continues as part of the business as usual operations with first responders like QFES, the rural fire service, SES, Police and support services like marine operators and the uniquely valuable Community Champions initiative. This has been supported by the testing of new warning protocols and internet disaster dashboard and through real life emergency responses such as the acclaimed December 2018 bushfire emergency response to serious wildfire on North Stradbroke island with associated impacts on the Southern Moreton Bay Islands.
- A3 posters highlighting the location of emergency services agencies, evacuation centres, evacuation routes, helicopter landing sites and assembly areas on each SMBI are being placed in noticeboards on each of the four islands in the week beginning 4 March 2019. They will become permanent metals signs by mid-2019.
- Fire review update - October and November 2017 [PDF 329 KB]
- Fire review update - August and September 2017 [PDF 288 KB]
- Media release: Mayor welcomes review of city’s fire management
- Fire Management Plan Review Report 2017 [PDF 15.8MB]
- Annexure A Bushfire Risk Analysis Report Redland City Council 2017 [PDF 3.35MB]
- Redland City Mainland and Islands Disaster Management Plan
- Community members are invited to provide feedback by emailing the Disaster Management Team.