Fire debrief outlines lessons learnt from Straddie fire

As North Stradbroke Island continues to heal from the bushfires that ravaged it over the New Year period, the response to the fire by emergency services was discussed during a multi-agency debrief today.

Redland City Deputy Mayor Alan Beard, who led Council’s Local Disaster Management Group during the fire, said a key finding from the debrief was the importance for all agencies and the community to work together during disasters.

“A consistent theme that came across during the day was the fantastic way all emergency agencies, local businesses and residents worked together during the fire,” he said.

“In particular the local knowledge of residents including the island’s Quandamooka community was critical in fighting the fire and cannot be understated.

Cr Beard said today’s multiagency debrief would ensue continuous improvement and was another example of all agencies and the community working together.

“During the event there is a great deal of action and everyone is focused on the task at hand, so it is important that we now take a step back and look at what worked and what we need to improve on for future events.

During the day the ferocity of the fire was highlighted, with it described as a battle from the start to the end of the 12-day event.

The debrief also included a presentation from Quandamooka Yoolooburabee Aboriginal Corporation (QYAC) about what the fire meant to the island’s traditional owners.

Queensland Fire and Emergency Services (QFES) Assistant Commissioner John Watson said there had been some very positive feedback following the fire and the debrief was an opportunity to build on these positives.

“We are pleased there has been positive feedback and congratulations, but we also need to realise that there is always room for improvement,” he said.

“Disasters are unpredictable, so it is important we look for ways to continually improve and the information gathered through this debrief will help us do that.”

Redland City Council’s Service Manager Disaster Plan and Operations Mike Lollback said the debrief included the prevention, preparation, response and recovery phases of the fire.

“It is important to recognise that it is not only what is done during the fire, but also how we prepare and recover from the event, including the prior planning that was done to design the Redlands Disaster Management Plan,” he said.

“Part two of this plan provides a strategy specific to our island communities, which provided island specific strategies to help prepare for and respond to the Straddie fires.

“This plan empowers the community as a partner in the process, showing that a united front is needed to respond to disasters.

“Parts three and four of this plan will be released in the coming months and will continue to build on these relationships.”