COMMUNICATION IMPROVEMENT COULDN’T HURT: Graham Parker of Ballandean Rural Fire Service in the aftermath of the Cyprus Ridge fires 2019
COMMUNICATION IMPROVEMENT COULDN’T HURT: Graham Parker of Ballandean Rural Fire Service in the aftermath of the Cyprus Ridge fires 2019

Upgrade to cross-border communication could save lives

A NATIONAL radio service for rural firefighters could strengthen communication for Southern Downs volunteers working across borders.

But Rural Fire Service area commander Tim Chittenden said crews in proximity to New South Wales are already well-equipped to deal with cross-state blazes.

“We have a very good system established with New South Wales Rural Fire Service where our vehicles are fitted with their radios,” he said.

“It wouldn’t really change a lot.”

While the issue of communication was more prevalent across Victoria and NSW stateliness as highlighted in the Royal Commission, Mr Chittenden said a national service would simplify transmission.

During the Black summer bushfires of 2019/2020 there were reported incidents of services not able to communicate about approaching interstate fires.

“We don’t really have too many problems with our cross border but yeah a national system would allow ease of transit,” he said.

Ballandean Rural Fire Brigade Officer Graham Parker has travelled over the border on numerous occasions to fight fires.

“Yes it would be beneficial if we had a national network rather than the individual state based networks, that would have some great benefits to brigades especially in cross border areas,” he said.

“Our brigade has one truck that has a radio which works on New South Wales bandwidth so we are often called to go to fires just over the border.

“And you know, comms can become sort of an issue.”

Mr Parker said there’s always room for improvement in the service’s communications as it could potentially save lives.

“Communication is one of the most essential things,” he said.

“We have all the trucks and equipment but if we have no communication on a fire ground that’s when people can get injured or killed.”

But Mr Parker said if it were to be implemented, it may not reach local services for a few seasons.

“Stuff like this doesn’t happen quickly and it doesn’t for good reason,” he said.

“I would be aghast to turn up at the shed and we’ve been told there's new comms in the truck and its been done without the consultation of brigades,” he said.