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Dodging snow – all for a good cause
For most firefighters, dodging falling snow is not part of a day’s work.
But Operations Officer Paul Scragg spent Wednesday (27 July) doing exactly that, braving 75cm deep ground snow to install street numbers to the front of lodges and ski resorts.
This is much-needed work and will help create visible and consistent address markings that may save a life by guiding emergency services to a Triple Zero caller.
For Paul, who's based on Mt Buller for the winter, it was a cold, hard day but worth it – and he’ll be back again today along with DELWP's Rick Pope.
“Outside, the snow was piled up in drifts three or four feet high, so sometimes we found ourselves standing up on that. At other times we used a ladder” Paul said.
Due to heavy, recent snowfall, sudden dumps of snow sliding down from from roofs have proved to be an unexpected hazard, but one that comes with the territory when working around roofs in the snow.
“The snow can come down hard and without warning. You just have to make sure you’re not in the way,” said Paul.
Mt Buller gets 400,000 visitors each year, so every ski season sees a huge swell in poulation.
And every year, CFA stations an operations officer at Mt Buller to give extra support to the brigade and to work on special projects related to the unique alpine risk environment.
In 2016, OO Paul Scragg has taken on the job. He's experiencing some of the coldest conditions in recent times. He knows all too well that when temperatures are sub zero, every minute counts during an emergency.
Aside from a medical incident, one of the worst case scenarios would be a building fire forcing the mass evacuation of people dressed in indoor clothes.
Paul said the reaction from tourists and visitors so far has been very positive.
“When passers-by see what we are doing the reaction is ‘good on you, about time’,” he said.
Sixty per cent of the buildings at the alpine resort are now numbered and Paul will be back today.
He said the logistics behind installing the new signage had been trickier than you might think, and the numbers had to be installed during winter to make sure they would stay attached during winter conditions.
“Some buildings have stone facades and the only glue that will hold the signage in place has to come from Canada,” he said.
Operations Officer Paul Horton worked with other agencies and the Resort Management Board to initiate the project in 2014. He said the numbering would lead to faster response times from all emergency services.
"The idea is to help the caller be more specific about where they are so that stress, fear and panic are minimised," he said.
Read more about the Mt Buller Urban Addressing Project here.