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Improving the safety of dangerous goods sites
CFA’s Dangerous Goods Unit (DGU) within Fire & Emergency Management seeks to continually improve firefighter safety by making sure sites that store and handle dangerous goods adhere to the Dangerous Goods Regulations and relevant Australian Standards, and ensuring that CFA operational requirements are considered in emergency planning.
By Jen Blyth
“The role of the DGU is to facilitate in improving dangerous goods sites safety for CFA firefighters,” confirms Senior Dangerous Goods Officer Matt Allen. “Our first priority is our firefighters.”
Matt leads the DGU, which is based at CFA headquarters. The DG Unit sits within the Community Infrastructure team, and in addition to Matt, the team consists of Dangerous Goods Officer Jen Blyth, and Dangerous Goods Project Officer Justin Meli.
Industrial and commercial sites storing large quantities of dangerous goods are required to seek the written advice of the fire services under the Dangerous Goods (Storage and Handling) Regulations 2012.
“When we attend a dangerous goods site, we assess the fire protection system and emergency management plans, and ensure that issues related to dangerous goods and response are addressed on site,” continues Matt. “We work closely with WorkSafe, MFB and industry to achieve a higher level of fire fighter safety than may otherwise exist.”
The DGU commonly visits Major Hazard Facilities, food production sites, water treatment plants and manufacturing facilities throughout the country area of Victoria.
Matt says, “If your brigade has attended a site for a familiarisation visit or post-incident investigation and identifies concerns related to DG storage and handling or emergency planning, please get in touch – it may be that the Emergency Management Plan is out of date, or fire protection equipment is obstructed. We can take steps to ensure that the site is compliant.”
“The Northern Catchment area of Geelong encompasses the areas of Corio and the growth area of Lara. This area is recognised as the highest growth of industrial risk in country Victoria and includes five MHFs, two prisons, a major aerodrome, a busy bay port, major industry and critical infrastructure. Currently the Northern Catchment Officer is Operations Officer Pat Geary.
"As Catchment Officer, I am working closely with CFA DG unit, especially, Senior Dangerous Goods Officer, Matt Allen to form relationships with these premises to insure that all risk is recognised, analysed and mitigated. This process entails an introductive visit, reviewing EMPs, inspections, crew inductions, PIRPs, training, desktop exercising and a commitment to the premises that CFA will work in partnership for the mutual benefit to the premises, CFA and the community.
The project extends to premises other than premises with dangerous goods and will be extended to all major industries in the catchment.
"The feedback from the premises to date has been extremely positive.”