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Olinda brigade hosts session on bunkers
On Wednesday 21 October, Justin Leonard, lead researcher of CSIRO’s Bushfire Urban Design team, presented a session to Olinda residents on private bushfire bunkers/shelters.
The session was attended by approximately 100 residents and it openly discussed CSIRO’s research into bunkers and detailed how infrastructure design, location and planned entry/exit times by owners, can influence the success or failure of a bunker.
The key points presented during the session included:
- People do save structures and structures do save people, BUT ONLY if the people, the structure and the surrounding environment are well prepared.
- There are now Australian Building Code Board Standards for Private Bushfire Bunkers (further information can be found at: www.abcb.gov.au/en/education-events-resources/publications/ABCB%20Performance%20Standards.aspx).
- There are only 2 approved commercial Private Bushfire Bunkers in Australia.
- Approved bunkers have ventilation systems and an observation window.
- CO and CO2 are more of a problem than lack of oxygen in the bunker.
- Humidity inside a bunker can be a major problem. Occupants need to avoid getting into the bunker with wet clothes, and it is recommended to not splash water about inside once the door is shut.
- Siting (installation location) of the bunker is extremely important, as not all places are suitable. Each certified bunker has siting requirements specific to that design.
- Vegetation management and a clear path leading towards and away from the bunker are critical. Occupants must be able to get into and out of the bunker safely.
- Occupants need to plan to enter their bunkers early. The CSIRO research has found that people have died when leaving the decision too late.
- People must be aware of the psychological implications as well as the physiological affects being in bunker.
- Bunkers located under houses, garages or close to other buildings can be potentially fatal. They may collapse and prevent a safe or timely exit.
- The people with a bunker need to practice using it. Can all ‘intended’ occupants sit in the hot, dark, humid bunker for an hour or more?
The session was so well received that another will be held in the coming months and a copy of the presentation is available on request.
CFA has information available to community members on Private Bushfire Bunkers: www.cfa.vic.gov.au/plan-prepare/private-bushfire-shelters-or-bunkers/