Defence Force turns down fire fighting plea

AN impassioned demand from Livingstone Shire mayor Bill Ludwig for the Australian Defence Force to establish a pilot program where soldiers took a more active role in fighting fires originating from the Shoalwater Bay Military Training Area, appears to have been rejected.

A Defence spokesperson wouldn't entertain Cr Ludwig's suggestion in their response to The Morning Bulletin's questions on the issue.

"The ADF is not trained to fight bushfires, but provides direct support to civilian agencies engaged in fighting these fires," the Defence spokesperson said.

"All support provided by the ADF in the event of a bushfire is, and will continue to be, at the direction of local and state authorities who decide where support from across government and the community is best employed."

They said Defence took its fire management responsibilities seriously across all bases and estates, including Shoalwater Bay Training Area, and has processes in place to ensure the small ­number of fires resulting from Defence activities were extinguished promptly.

"The Defence contracted workforce employed at Shoalwater Bay Training Area prepares and maintains firebreaks in line with existing policies and provides initial responses to fires on the training area," they said.

"Defence works closely with local emergency organisations to ensure that fires on the Defence estate are effectively managed when they do occur.

"The response provided to manage the fire is influenced by the location of the fire and accessibility to the affected area can impact on the response provided by Defence and other emergency organisations."

They also noted that fires were caused by lightning, trespassers and fires moving onto the training area from elsewhere, were also sources of fires on SWBTA.

As a result of a meeting on December 13 where representatives of Defence met with Cr Ludwig, Livingstone Shire Council representatives and senior QFES personnel, Defence agreed to provide representatives to the Local Disaster Management Group for future meetings.

"Defence has not yet received details of Local Disaster Management Group meetings planned for 2020," they said.