Prior to July 1990, Queensland’s fire services were administered by 81 locally constituted fire boards which were overseen by Brisbane-based State Fire Services. Each of the fire boards had considerable autonomy and standards varied considerably from one board area to another. The idividual boards had different priorities. As a result, firefighting equipment, facilities, uniforms, staffing levels and training were not consistent throughout Queensland.
To be able to implement standardisation procedures, it was decided to amalgamate the 81 fire boards into one organisation named the Queensland Fire Service. The amalgamation occurred on 1st July 1990. Under the organisational structure of the Queensland Fire Service, the state was divided into regions and within the regions were Areas.
Each of these levels were provided with appropriate management structures and support staff to administer the region. Each of the regions were accountable to the office of the Commissioner of the Queensland Fire Service.
Creation of the QAFA
The creation of the new Fire Service was a positive step toward creating standards to be adopted throughout Queensland. There were many advantages in having one fire service for both employees and management, however, the auxiliary firefighter no longer had the advantage of being able to negotiate directly and deal face-to-face, with their employer. The problem of communicating with the new employer on a statewide basis was identified by a number of people. The need for a single body to represent the interest of auxiliary firefighters thoughout Queensland was recognised.
The opportunity to measure support for the idea of a Queensland Auxiliary Firefighters Association (the Association) came at the State Auxiliary Firefighting Championships held at Carrara, Gold Coast in late 1990. The proposal gained strong acceptance by the firefighters in attendance.
The QFS Commissioner supported the concept as he also saw the merit in dealing with one organisation representing all auxiliary firefighters. The auxiliary firefighers who were present at the time were asked to nominate persons to represent them in the venture. Three were nominated, John Whyte (Gayndah) and Bruce Chamberlain (Bowen), who were given the task of undertaking the groundwork for the formation of the Association.
The First Steering Committee.
A steering committee was formed with Alan Faulks (Dayboro) and John Mellor (Gayndah) being recruited because of their respective expertise. It was decided to hold an informal meeting in Brisbane on 3rd December 1990 to discuss the proposal of an Association for auxiliary firefighters.
The meeting was extremely productive with the decision made to produce a draft constitution for consideration. The task of contacting all auxiliary firefighers throughout the state was undertaken in April and May of 1991 by sending a letter and a copy of policy to all auxiliary stations. This letter called for nominations for station and regional respesentatives.
The representative were duly elected. The Association was born at the inaugural State of meeting of the Queensland Auxiliary Firefighters Association in Brisbane on Wednesday 19th June 1991 with the election of the State Committee members. The inaugural state committee consisted of:
President – Ian McLean (Proserpine)
Vice President – John Whyte (Gayndah)
Secretary – Bruce Chamberlain (Bowen)
Assistant Secretary – Barry Mooney (Sarina)
Treasurer – Alan Faulks (Dayboro)
Peter Woodhead – (Beenleigh)
Peter Holliday – (Worongary)
John Dow – (Biloela)
Ross Brown – (Meandarra)
Rob Schultz – (Killarney)
John Mellor – (Gayndah)
The objectives of the Queensland Auxiliary Firefighters Association are:
– to encourage and promote the efficiency and effectiveness of auxiliary firefighters and the Queensland Fire Service,
– to act generally for the welfare and in the interests of members of the Queensland Auxiliary Firefighters Association and all Queensland Fire Service auxiliary firefighters,
– to make representations to Government, relevant organisations and the community in general, matters which concern auxiliary firefighters in the performance in their role as such,
– to project and promote the image of the Queensland Fire Service auxiliary brigades as community-based fire brigades protecting the well being of the community,
– to act in the interest of co-operation between emergency service organisations.
The Organisational Structure
Figure 3.1 illustrates the infrastructure of the Auxiliary Firefighters Association. The association has a four level infrastructure commencing at each station where a representative is elected. Within each district, two representatives are elected to the regional committee.
Each region elects two members to the state committee (depending on the number of auxiliaries in a region) and the management committee is elected from the state committee.
The station representative is the first level of the structure. This person must ensure any concerns of the members within the station are either dealt with at the station level with the officer-in-charge or passed to the district level.
The district representatives conduct meetings which are open to all members within their respective districts, liaises with the District Commander on local issues and represents the district at the regional level.
The regional committee liaises directly with the Assistant Commissioner of that region, considers proposals and problems with regional consequences and provides feedback to district committees.
The state committee, comprising representatives from all regions of the state and deliberates and negotiates on all aspects which have statewide consequences. Contact is maintained with executive management of the Queensland Fire Service. Information from this committee is distributed to the members through the various levels of committee.
The management committee is responsible for the day-to-day running of the Association ensuring compliance with the constitution and by-laws.