Topaz community working to establish the Topaz Rural Fire Brigade

Jun 9, 2023

The Topaz community has come together in an effort to get first responders to incidents in their community quicker by working towards establish the Topaz Rural Fire Brigade.

Member for Hill Shane Knuth said Topaz was often a community that was forgotten which was more than 30 minutes from Malanda with a narrow windy road.

“By establishing the Topaz Rural Fire Brigade trained volunteers will be on the ground in the quickest fastest and safest time until further assistance arrives,” Mr Knuth said.

“This means when someone has a heart attack, or a fire breaks out on a property the Topaz volunteers will be on the ground ready to assist until emergency services arrive which could mean the different between life and death.”

Topaz Rural Fire Brigade founding member Shane Teahan said he had been working on establishing the Topaz Rural Fire Brigade for about 12 months and was excited to see things moving along.

“We are really lacking in resources and state and local assets out here,” Mr Teahan said.

“We have done the research and it takes 30 to 35 minutes for any sort of emergency response to arrive in regards to a fire or anything of that nature out here.

“To have some sort of emergency response asset on the ground out here would make a world of difference to the local community.”

He said to get to where they are now it has been a great journey of resilience and a strong community.

“This piece of land is owned by the Ngadjon tribe, and they have shown extraordinary generosity in the fact that they would like to gift this piece of land for the purpose of establishing the Topaz Rural Fire Brigade,” he said.

“We have a number of volunteers already who have put their hand up to join and the next step from here is making sure that we communicate with the Rural Fire Service, local communities, Traditional Owners (TO’s) and local and state governments to get the funding for this.”

Ngadjon traditional owner (TO) Yvonne Canendo said her tribe had discussed the need to help the people of Topaz.

“We are a long way from town and for the fire truck to get here from Malanda and by the time they get out here you are lucky to have a house of a family left,” Ms Canendo said.

“We definitely need one out here and when I was cleaning this area up, I thought this would be a great area and everyone agreed on it.

“Having a rural fire brigade out here is just the start and it would be a big help.”

Mr Tehan said this was a great example of communities and TO’s working together to achieve quality community outcomes.

Tableland Regional Council division 3 councillor Dave Bilney said council would be in support of any organisation that would better any community in their region.

“The communities in the outlying areas of the Tablelands are about community empowerment and to be able to look after themselves,” Mr Bilney said.

“By having a fire station based here with community volunteers always them to protect each other a lot quicker than relying on the closes main area which is Malanda.

“The mayor and I has already provided a letter of support for the project, and it is very hard to state that no one would support this.”