Co-Operative Funding Trial gets the go ahead from Blackall Tambo Regional Council
Wednesday, 9 May 2018
Whilst the image of the Queensland landowner as steadfast and resilient coupled with an unwavering desire to defend their local community certainly holds true, there has been a misconception that they do not require any outside assistance to do so. The idea that Primary Producer Brigades (PPBs) need only a slip-on unit and some personal protective equipment (PPE) needed to change.
In February of 2016 RFBAQ in conjunction with Rexel Holdings Australia offered 100 small grants to truck brigades, which received a large volume of applications from those without appliances. It was clear then that there was a real need to support the non-truck brigades in the Service.
September 2016 saw the launch of the Primary Producer Community Defence Grant Scheme, an initiative supported by QFES/RFSQ and is the first grant scheme of its type. By early 2017 a total of 66 PPBs had been successful in receiving grants averaging $1,000. Brigades sought such items as small equipment like chainsaws, blowers and hand tools, machinery attachments such as grader blades, communication equipment such as UHF/ VHF radios, PPE (eg chainsaw helmet and chaps), and maintenance towards trailers and infrastructure. Significantly there was a preference for locally sourced items – products known and trusted within the brigade’s local community. RFBAQ requested brigades have their local supplier invoice us, and upon payment could pick up their equipment locally. Not only was this a significant cash injection into many local economies, it ensured ease of servicing for equipment moving forward. As an example, the Emerald Stihl dealer reported a $5,000 increase in business in one month as a direct result of this scheme.
In 2017 the RFBAQ hit the road and consulted with PPB volunteers at the Mareeba Field Day in May, Hungerford Field Day and Toowoomba FarmFest in June, Ag-Grow Emerald in July and finally the Barcaldine Westech Field Day in September. It was evident that many PPBs want to try and improve their community defence model.
Consultation with PPBs gave light to the fact that many of these brigades desire training in first aid and fire management systems (FMS) – something other brigades may take for granted. FMS training would result in an invaluable handshake of information, with generational local firefighting knowledge being delivered back to the Service.
To better serve these non-truck, Primary Producer Brigades into the future, a Co-operative Funding Model was proposed. This will see co-operatives set up in each Shire where there is a vast predominance of PPBs. Each co-operative would receive annual funding amounting to $1,000 per brigade, to be added to a pool. This pool could then be easily accessed by those PPBs within that Shire when funding is required for any number of things; be it equipment, fire sheds, maintenance or training.
On each co-operative would sit 1 representative from RFSQ, 2 local PPB first officers, the local fire management group (if one exists) and a representative from the local council, ensuring everyone has a sense of ownership.
Being centralised and auditable, these co-operatives would make an obvious and sorely needed lodestone for donations large and small.
On Tuesday 20th March the RFBAQ met with Mayor Andrew Martin from Blackall Tambo Regional Council, Deputy Commissioner Mike Wassing and RFSQ Superintendents Brian Smith and Andrew Houley.
The trial funding group will run for a period of 12 months supporting the brigades in the Blackall Tambo Regional Council area.
A simplified grant form similar to those used in the PPB Community Defence Grant Scheme has been made to ensure that brigade volunteers have a simple and logical application process.
2016 RFBAQ / Rexel Grants
Whilst initially offered to brigades with trucks, many non-truck brigades also requested assistance.
2017 RFBAQ Primary Producer Community Defence Grant Scheme
66 successful PPBs selected a range of items, falling into 5 categories. Importantly, these items were provided by local suppliers.