Melton Fire Station staff and volunteers are CFA’s leading lights in improving environmental performance.
Melton is an integrated fire station with 25 career staff and around 90 volunteers. Located on the rural-urban fringe, 35km North West of Melbourne, and with around 900 turnouts each year including road rescue, this is a busy station.
Last year the station was recognised as a ‘high electricity user’ within District 14. ‘Ecosave’, an energy efficiency company engaged to carry out a site assessment, identified potential energy and water savings solutions for the station – refurbishing and retrofitting lighting, installing energy saving units to air-conditioners and fitting timers to hot water systems. With projected costs of around $80,000 and a ‘pay back’ period of 7 years, these solutions were not approved by CFA.
Station staff then took up the challenge to find out why the station was using more electricity than other similar sized stations. An ambitious target of 20% reduction in electricity use was set by staff. Fire fighter Damion Sloane and Senior Station Officer Craig Kneeshaw led the way with this initiative with the full support of the Brigade Management Team and Officer in Charge James Dullard.
Station staff carried out their own energy audit using a ‘Powermate’ meter. The Powermate is an easy-to-use meter that assesses energy use, greenhouse gas emissions and running costs of appliances. The audit identified high energy use appliances at the station – fridges and freezers. Some long standing human behaviours that lead to high energy consumption – leaving computers/printers switched on 24/ and leaving lights on in empty rooms for example– were also focussed on.
A simple checklist was developed by staff to help reduce electricity use on station:
- Turn lights off when you leave a room (e.g. Day room, dorms and admin room at a night time)
- Shut down and turn computers off at night
- Turn off heaters/air con in dorms in the morning
- Turn TV off when not in day room
- Adjust the heater temperature settings to 18⁰-20⁰C in Winter and air conditioner settings to 24°C – 26°C in Summer
- Unplug battery/phone chargers when not in use
- Keep motor room doors closed whenever possible – particularly on hot/cold days
The past 18 months has seen a dramatic reduction electricity use at Melton Fire Station. The August bill this year was around 6,000 kWh less than the same time last year – a 17% reduction. Another way of looking at it – in August 2013 electricity use at the station was costing around $75 a day; this dropped to just $47 a day after the program started.
This has been a great win for both Melton FS and for CFA. Programs like this require good ’buy in’ and ongoing commitment from everyone involved. They need a strong advocate on station – someone who will keep pushing the message and persist until the job is done. As Craig Kneeshaw observed “Damion has done an amazing job to bring an integrated approach to the task. Conveying a message and end result to some stakeholders was challenging at times.”
Station staff and volunteers are committed to continuing this program: all will ‘switch off’ whenever possible and are looking for new ways to reduce electricity use. Replacing older ice freezers with more energy efficient models has been identified as their next step. Installing solar panels has also been considered. The program is set to be extended to waste management: staff and volunteers will look at how to reduce rubbish and increase recycling on station.
By working together and changing the way we do business we will reduce the environmental impact of our operations: we can reduce our energy use, lower our carbon footprint and improve our waste management. These programs also give CFA a better financial bottom line.
For more energy saving tips for your station, office and home go to: https://news.cfa.vic.gov.au/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=5248
Author: Darlene Pentland