L-R: Emergency Services Minister Jaclyn Symes & Acting Chief Officer Garry Cook
CFA has unveiled ten new automated weather stations which will improve firefighter and community safety at incidents and planned burns with hyper-localised weather data, fire spread predictions and community warnings.
Acting Chief Officer Garry Cook joined Emergency Services Minister Jaclyn Symes at the Heathcote Fire station today to trial the new equipment.
Seven of the weather stations are portable, and three will be located permanently at Ballan, East Trentham and Glenburn.
The Portable Automated Weather Stations (PAWS) are standalone units which measure surrounding weather and transmit the data to CFA and the Bureau of Meteorology (BOM).
The portable units can be set up in 15 minutes and can record parameters including temperature, relative humidity, wind speed and direction, rain, solar radiation and more. The data is transmitted remotely using either 4G or satellite iridium technology.
The Remote Automated Weather Stations (RAWS) are permanently installed units which are used extensively in fire management across the US, Canada and many states of Australia.
CFA Acting Chief Officer Garry Cook said the additional weather intelligence will be invaluable to firefighters for not only their safety but also in fire response and preparation.
“Fire is a true force of nature and its behaviour can change in an instant, putting lives and property at risk,” A/CO Cook said.
“Accurate, localised and up-to-the-minute weather information on a fireground is critical to providing an effective emergency response.
“These portable stations will be used in remote regions where there are no permanent weather stations to provide reliable and accurate weather data.
“The stations will help firefighters understand fire behaviour on the ground during a fire incident, or by measuring the weather conditions of an area in the lead up to and during planned burn events.
“They have a huge potential to improve our planning and responses, thereby improving firefighter and community safety as well.”
The weather stations can also transmit data via satellite to the Bureau of Meteorology which is then is accessible to CFA, partner agencies and the general public on the Bureau’s website under the Victorian Observations Page Portable section.
An investment of $680,000 for the ten weather stations and their maintenance was funded from a State Government grant in response to the IGEM 2019-20 Phase 1 bushfire inquiry into the 2019-20 Victorian Fire season.
- Remote Automated Weather Station at Ballan (photo courtesy ESS Weathertech)