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AusNet working with CFA
AusNet Services are working closely with CFA and the Hillcrest Fire Brigade in the delivery of a major project associated with the Victorian Government’s Powerline Bushfire Safety Program (PBSP) which is aimed at reducing the risk of bushfires caused by electrical assets.
The PBSP is an outcome of the recommendations from the 2009 Victorian Bushfires Royal Commission Inquiry.
AusNet Services are replacing approximately 5km of overhead high voltage powerlines in the Mt Toolebewong and Don Valley area with new underground cables. The works are complex given the terrain and has involved extensive stakeholder engagement with all the landholders in the area by AusNet Services.
The on ground works are scheduled to commence in January 2015 with full project completion expected by October 2015.
Operations Officer Don Tomkins and Hillcrest Fire Brigade have taken a lead role in coordinating a whole of emergency response to the project involving Vic Police, SES and Ambulance in the pre-planning and development of the emergency management plan for the duration of the project. An onsite meeting with agency representatives, AusNet personnel and contractors who will be delivering the works was held on Friday 12 December 2014.
The multi-agency on site meeting enabled a clear understanding of the risks associated with the extreme bushfire risk area and steep terrain. It is a high risk area for a medical emergency rescue and evacuation situation. Designated evacuation points and staging areas, identified access and egress points which have been mapped and numbered, pre-defined trigger points for cessation of works on high fire danger days; an extensive communications plan and rescue packs located on site and a water line with CFA fittings for fire suppression were all positive outcomes of the day.
In addition, AusNet Services staff and contractors will be undertaking some basic fire awareness training with Hillcrest Fire Brigade and basic rescue concepts with SES local units in January prior to the commencement of works.
AusNet Services proactive engagement with emergency services is a model that they hope will continue and be used in other projects. The project will ultimately reduce a bushfire risk in an extreme risk area which will benefit all Yarra Valley communities.