Firefighter numbers critically low at Sunshine Coast Airport: Union

February 6, 2024 10:03 am in by

Aviation fire fighter numbers are critically low at Sunshine Coast Airport according to the United Firefighters Union.

It said there’s not enough crews to keep up with increased demand, especially since the new Bonza base opened.

A crew is required to be on standby when planes are taking off and landing in case of an emergency.

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The United Firefighters Union’s Wes Garrett said that’s not always happening and he is calling for federally-run Airservices Australia to step in.

Mr Garrett said increased passenger numbers have highlighted the issue.

The sector suffered mass job cuts in 2023 and the impact is being felt as air travel increases.

“We don’t have enough crews to cover the extended operational hours that are required to receive the new player Bonza which has really had a big effect on increasing demand at the Sunshine Coast Airport,” Mr Garrett said.

“Between December and today we’ve had five of those aircraft that have come in with no coverage at all and we’ve had 59 of those aircraft come in where we’ve had staffing numbers below what is required under the regulatory settings in this country.

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“Firefighters are there if there is any kind of incident that occurs on aerodromes. Of course a crash is a worst case scenario. We’re there to respond to that and save live in the event of an emergency and we can intervene within a three minute period. I mean it’s all about intervention if there’s a problem, ” Mr Garrett said.

Sunshine Coast Airport General Manager Operations, Kate McCreery-Carr, said all scheduled flights at the airport are supported by Aviation Rescue Fire Fighting (ARFF) service.

“Sunshine Coast Airport is a 24/7 airport with flights currently operating between the hours of 0530 and 2300,” she said.

“While Sunshine Coast Airport is supported by ARFF, on-going 24/7 support is provided by Queensland emergency services.”