New rules see volunteers sacked as fire season heats up
FEARS of the Darling Downs Rural Fire Brigade losing most of its volunteers to tighter child safety rules were exaggerated.
The Queensland Government introduced new rules requiring all rural fire brigade volunteers to hold a blue card.
Initial media reports said up to 86 per cent would not qualify and therefore get the sack.
Darling Downs Rural Fire Service acting area director John Welke expects some members to fail the test but said the numbers would be limited.
"It is a beat-up," he said.
"We will see some members choose to resign or not be successful getting a blue card because of their criminal history or history of domestic violence.
"I know one gentleman in his late 50s denied a blue card because of a criminal matter from when he was in his 20s."
About 15 per cent of Darling Downs volunteers have applied for a blue card under the new rules. Mr Welke said only a handful were knocked back.
But despite losing members he supported the rules because volunteers have regular contact with minors during property checks and school presentations. He said it was common for volunteers to be alone with kids.
The brigade also had a number of 16 and 17-year-old volunteers. "As a parent I think this is a peace-of-mind thing," Mr Welke said.
"If you are a volunteer at the local arts council or a sport club you need a blue card.
"It is not a new concept and it may make us a more appealing group to join up with."