March 8, 2018
Queensland Emergency Services Minister Craig Crawford presented awards on Saturday to the firefighters involved in battling the Swickers’ fire in Kingaroy in November 2016.
Mr Crawford – a former paramedic and rural fire brigade volunteer – praised their skilled response to the fire, which prevented it from spreading to other parts of the complex, as well as Swickers’ ability to get the abattoir back up and running so quickly.
“The Swickers and Kingaroy story is remarkable – everyone has pulled together to get the town, the factory and the community back on its feet,” he said.
It took 50 firefighters and 14 appliances 11 hours to bring the Swickers’ fire under control.
QFES Commissioner Katarina Carroll said the men and women involved in the incident had worked in extreme conditions.
“Everyone who fought knew they had to save the factory, knowing it was the main employer in the town of Kingaroy,” she said.
“The fire threatened the seven tonne anhydrous ammonia plant and as a result crews were required to rotate through Breathing Apparatus duties to ensure they protected themselves against the highly toxic smoke,” Ms Carroll said.
“Loss of the ammonia plant could have been catastrophic and it was the efforts of the QFES team that prevented this.”
South Burnett mayor Keith Campbell was also full of praise: “You saved the fire from being a whole lot worse than it could have been …”
Unit commendations were presented to the various fire stations which took part in the incident, and the SES units which assisted at the site.
Special praise was reserved for the incident controllers who had the task of deciding what to do and when, often with little or incomplete information.
Assistant Commissioner John Cawcutt presented a commendation to Kingaroy Station Officer Bruce Groer who took control of the incident until relieved hours later by Inspector John Harrison, from Brisbane, who also received a commendation.