The Queensland Fire And Emergency Service has commented after bushfire education group Taskforce Vulcan was shut down.
QFES Acting Commissioner Mike Wassing has commented on the rumours surrounding the end of Taskforce Vulcan.
He said "QFES has had no reduction in its fire investigation capability since the conclusion of Taskforce Vulcan".
Taskforce Vulcan was a Central Queensland focused joint initiative with the Queensland Police Service to educate the public and raise awareness on the dangers of deliberately lit bushfires.
The focus of the Taskforce was to encourage the public to report to Crime Stoppers suspicious fire behaviour in areas where bushfires had started.
There was no dedicated QFES resource to the Taskforce and it was delivered as part of business as usual bushfire education activities.
QFES continues to provide fire investigation support to QPS as the lead agency for investigation.
Taskforce Vulcan was concluded at the start of Operation Cool Burn in April 2018, which focuses on broader bushfire preparedness, mitigation and education activities as part of QFES’ annual campaign.
As part of Operation Cool Burn, QFES continues to target arson and conducts education programs focused on arson prevention.
News of the closure comes as we find ourselves facing 'locally catastrophic' fire conditions in many regions across Queensland.
Fire danger ratings range in severity on Friday from 'high' and 'very high' in the Far North, 'very high' from North Queensland and down to the Capricornia region. It increases to 'severe' across the Wide Bay Burnett and South East corner.
This week, Member for Keppel Brittany Lauga condemned arsonists for lighting at least one of six bushfires across the Keppel electorate, threatening people’s lives and property.
“I understand that at least one fire has been deliberately lit.
“We will not let arsonists win.
“This behaviour is absolutely unacceptable as it puts lives, homes, schools and infrastructure at risk.”
Ms Lauga said volunteer rural firefighters from The Caves, Tanby, Keppel Sands and other crews have been tirelessly fighting fires around the clock for days, risking their lives and it has taken them away from their families and work.
“They shouldn’t have to be out fighting this fire because it should never have been lit.
“The families at The Caves, Farnborough, Coowonga and Barmaryee have been stressed and anxious about these fires near their homes which come less than a year after the devastation of fires in similar areas.
“We will catch, charge and convict arsonists in our community.
“The devastation which can occur affects whole communities, and recovery is never quick or easy.”
Mrs Lauga said records show that one in every two bushfires across Australia are deliberately lit, or start under suspicious circumstances.
“This comes at a cost of $1.6 billion to the Australian public annually.”
She said the QFES Central Regional and the Rural Fire Service each have several qualified bushfire investigators available to investigate the cause of a bushfire.
“These volunteers have a good knowledge of fire behaviour, and are committed to reducing the occurrences and impacts of bushfire arson in their area.”
She said there are heavy penalties for people convicted of arson with a maximum penalty of 14 years imprisonment (Criminal Code Act 1899, section 46).
To report a fire emergency call Triple Zero (000).
Report suspicious behaviours anonymously in a number of ways. You can:
Provide confidential information to Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000 (lines are open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week)
Contact your local police station, or
Lodge an online information report with Crime Stoppers.
“Remember, the next deliberately lit bushfire may destroy property, injure, or even kill someone. If you see something, or know something, do something.”