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'An absolute waste': Volunteers devastated as work destroyed

A vehicle used by the Rural Fire Service volunteers at community and educational events was stolen and set alight Saturday morning.
A vehicle used by the Rural Fire Service volunteers at community and educational events was stolen and set alight Saturday morning. Les Williams

3.30PM: RURAL Fire Service volunteers who put countless hours into community events have been devastated by the theft and torching of a specialist vehicle overnight.

Rural Fire Services Queensland Area Director Wayne Kapernick described the sad situation as "an absolute waste".

The vehicle, which was originally donated by the Queensland Ambulance Service, was specially fitted out to transport promotional material, including a Blazer the Bear costume for events.

Mr Kapernick said volunteers had designed the custom shelving system inside the van for their needs and had also included a fridge to keep water cool during community events, such as shows and open days.

 

The volunteer community engagement vehicle donated to the Rural Fire Service that was stolen and set alight on Saturday morning.
The volunteer community engagement vehicle donated to the Rural Fire Service that was stolen and set alight on Saturday morning. Queensland Fire and Emergency Se

All that material was also destroyed in the fire and will have to be replaced so volunteers can fulfil pre-booked community engagements.

Without the van, Mr Kapernick said volunteers would probably have to take the material and equipment in boxes, which made it much more complicated to transport and set up.

But aside from the practicalities, Mr Kapernick said the people who had given their own time to fit out the vehicle and design the distinctive sign-writing were devastated someone could so easily destroy their work.

 

The volunteer community engagement vehicle donated to the Rural Fire Service that was stolen and set alight on Saturday morning.
The volunteer community engagement vehicle donated to the Rural Fire Service that was stolen and set alight on Saturday morning. Queensland Fire and Emergency Se

"It's going to be very hard to replace it," he said.

"A lot of the volunteers took it the heart and were very proud of that vehicle and they found it devastating that this vehicle has had such damage done to it.

"Some of these volunteers put a hell of a lot of time into fitting it out and maintaining that vehicle.

"It was an important tool to them and something they were proud of because it was distinct.

"I've seen this van develop and the pride that the volunteer educators had in it was tremendous.

"It's a waste. It's just an absolute waste."

The van was not only used in Rockhampton, but travelled throughout Central Queensland to events in Mackay, Gladstone and Emerald.

Given the distinct artwork on the vehicle, Mr Kapernick hopes someone may have seen something which could assist police investigating the case.

If you have information about the incident which could help locate the offenders, contact Crime Stoppers anonymously on 1800 333 000.

1.30PM: A VEHICLE used by volunteers to promote fire safety and education has been stolen and set alight overnight.

Queensland Fire and Emergency Services were called to the burning vehicle in Bill Crane Park, Berserker, at 6.38am.

Inspector Les Williams from the Queensland Fire and Emergency Services said the vehicle was used by Rural Fire Service volunteers to conduct education and community engagement programs at schools, open days and other events.

He said the vehicle was stolen from the North Rockhampton Fire Station on Yaamba Rd during the night, but authorities are unsure of a time.

The vehicle was booked for a number of community events which now require alternative arrangements.

Police are investigating the incident.

If you have information about the incident which could help locate the offenders, contact Crime Stoppers anonymously on 1800 333 000.

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