Redland City Council Fire Management Plan Review Report 2017

Council has received a comprehensive report reviewing all aspects of fire management across the Redlands, including the mainland and the Southern Moreton Bay Islands (SMBIs). 

It is considering its response to the 89 page report, which contains 56 recommendations.

The Redland City Council – Fire Management Plan Review Report 2017 [PDF 15.8MB] was commissioned following wildfires on Macleay and Russell Islands last year (2016).

It has been handed to Council by the Training and Emergency Management Unit, a commercial arm of Queensland Fire and Emergency Service. 

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.

The report has 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.

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.

Redland City Council will always put the welfare of people first.

Redland City Council has already increased its efforts to clean up areas on Russell Island with heavy fuel loads, and will use the review’s recommendations to help plan for the future safety and resilience of the Redlands community, particularly those living on the SMBIs.

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

Since January 2017, 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.

Council will also 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.

Council will report back within three months on its response to and progress on the review’s recommendations.

Frequently Asked Questions 

Council welcomes the results of the review and will work its way through each of the 56 recommendations. The report has recommended a better balance between community safety and protecting the environment. We will always put the welfare of people first.

The CEO will report back to Council within three months to outline Council’s response to and progress on the recommendations received on 26 July 2017. 

The review’s recommendations fall across following six categories:

  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 hydrant
Council commissioned the independent report by the Training and Emergency Management Unit, a commercial arm of Queensland Fire and Emergency Service (QFES) following wildfires on Macleay Island in November 2016 and Russell Island in December 2016.It was felt an external review would provide independent expert analysis of and advice on all the factors which contributed to the Russell Island fires, and provide the best possible course of action in future to protect Redlands residents, particularly those living on the islands. 

As part of Council’s commitment to community safety we slash and clear all trails and tracks used for fire maintenance and/or control across the Redlands eight times a year.

Since January 2017, Council has already commenced implementing many of the actions recommended in the report, including:

  • 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 
  • cleaning up areas on Russell Island, beginning with areas carrying heavy fuel loads such as dumped green waste
  • slashing 88,000m2 of land on the Southern Moreton Bay Islands to reduce the direct fire risk
  • six weeks of work to remove potentially dangerous trees from beside roadways on the Southern Moreton Bay Islands 
  • incorporating the latest QFES Fire Management mapping into the Redland Disaster Management Plan 
  • work to update the current Disaster Management Plan for the city to ensure it includes the latest available technology, mapping and census data  
  • using the latest Simulation Analysis Based Risk Evaluation Technology (SABRE) to assess the probability of fire behaviour based on wind, humidity and temperature conditions
  • writing to the Federal Minister for Communications Mitch Fifield about improving the telecommunications infrastructure on the Southern Moreton Bay Islands.

Council will 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.

Council believes the Southern Moreton Bay Islands should be treated like regional Queensland in terms of State and Federal Government funding due to their isolation.

Fire mitigation is not the sole responsibility of the Council, and as a result of the review, Council is actively liaising with a number of State and Federal Government departments to develop a whole-of-government approach to dealing with this issue.

Council will continue to encourage all landowners to look for opportunities to maintain their properties to reduce the risk of fire.

The QFES Act makes each individual responsible for ensuring their property is ‘fire safe’. This includes clearing and maintenance of vacant land, to having workable fire alarms in homes. Community safety is something everyone in the city is responsible for.

Council responds to every complaint about overgrown vegetation or other fire risks on Southern Moreton Bay Island (SMBI) properties. Council received 172 complaints from January 2017 to 30 June 2017 about overgrown vegetation or other fire risks on Russell Island and in each case, a risk assessment was completed and action taken where needed. 

If the owner is not willing or able to tidy up land which is the subject of a valid complaint, council can get contractors to do the work and recover costs.

In addition, Council’s Disaster Management staff have spent around 200 hours so far in 2017 engaging with members of the community to raise awareness about the need for good property maintenance for disaster preparedness. This includes community engagement with members of the public and community groups, community resilience training of community champions on the Southern Moreton Bay Islands and a two-day disaster management exercise on Russell Island. 

Council also communicates with residents about the importance of property maintenance via letters, educational material, social media and local media.

Council provides face-to-face advice to residents on how to prepare for natural disasters including bushfires.

Already in 2017 Council has provided around 200 hours of face-to-face community engagement with Redlands residents - including through the ‘Street Speaks’ 
program - on how to prepare for a possible disaster event. Council also has regular displays at local events such as RedFest and Christmas by Starlight where staff are on hand to speak with residents about community safety and what to do in an emergency. 

The Local Disaster Management Group provides information and answers questions on how people can prepare their properties to protect them from the risk of fire.

Residents can also access disaster management advice specific to their area through the Redland Disaster Management Plan website.

Free hard copies of the information are available by going to your local library and asking them to print it for you, or by calling 3829 8999.

All Redlands’ residents are encouraged to read their disaster plans. Council reviews its disaster plan every 12 months and is now developing its 2018 Disaster Plan.

Updated information, including emergency response information during an event, can be found on the Redland City Council website and on:

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.

 
Community members are invited to provide feedback by emailing Disaster Management Team.

Further information