QFES to be dissolved as new laws passed

By Sonia Isaacs

NEW legislation has passed that will effectively dissolve QFES (Queensland Fire and Emergency Services) as part of a suite of sweeping changes set to boost the state’s resilience capability and response to disaster and emergencies.
The reforms reflect the most substantial departmental shake-up in decades of the state’s disaster and emergency management framework.
Minister for Fire and Disaster Recovery and Minister for Corrective Services, Nikki Boyd, said the new legislation passed on May 2, 2024 was about providing Queenslanders with the best possible frontline support through more resources, more personnel, and a better alignment of emergency services.
“The establishment of the new Queensland Fire Department (QFD) will better position our fire services to respond to the increasing impacts of emergencies and natural disasters. The legislation will not only set up the structures for Rural Fire Service Queensland (RFSQ) and Queensland Fire and Rescue (QFR), but also provide more protection for our volunteers,” Minister Boyd said.
The changes will also see Queensland Police Service (QPS) take on primary responsibility for the state’s expanded disaster and emergency coordination functions, with the State Emergency Service (SES) along with Marine Rescue Queensland (MRQ) expected to transition to QPS in June 2024. The new laws will establish QFR and RFSQ as two separate fire services under the umbrella of the newly created QFD set to take effect from July 1, 2024.
Queensland Fire and Emergency Services (QFES) Acting Commissioner Steve Smith said the reforms heralded a new era for fire services in Queensland
“Passing of this legislation marks a critical milestone as we transition from QFES to the QFD. It will also mean committed budgets for RFSQ and QFR, and dedicated leadership with experience for each service in the urban and rural environment,” AC Smith said.
Craig Young, Group Officer of the Caloundra Rural Fire Brigade Group which includes seven local brigades, including Beerwah, Glass House Mountains, Landsborough and Maleny, said he was pleased that the RFSQ would see a significant increase in funding and resources, including 146 paid rural fire service positions throughout the state to support the volunteer base. He said locally this would see an additional brigade training officer and finance officer.
He said while he was cautiously optimistic about the reform, there still remained a bit of grey area around how the local rural brigades will manage their financial concerns.
“We don’t want excessive involvement from QFD on how we operate and manage our finances and funding, however if these changes are rolled out as presented then I am lead to believe they will be good,” Mr Young said.