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Offline Jimmy Deguara

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Natural disasters and preventative measures
« on: 09 February 2009, 06:01:35 PM »
The purpose of this thread is to discuss natural disaster preparedness.

In light of the disastrous bushfires (wild fires) that have devastated Victoria on February 7th 2009, many questions will arrise and of course there will be a Government enquiry in response to the very high death toll in this event. The question remains, what could have been done to prevent or reduce the death toll? Please be careful in considering your responses as we are not the experts in disaster management and our views must attempt to encompass the complexities of how events come together in real time as compared to hindsight.

As I alerted in the actuall thread that gace rise to this thread, a disaster is just that - a disaster. Circumstances come together that were not anticipated in a specific place at a specific time and the result if there is a population is a catastrophe.

Were warnings in place? With the internet, sophisticated free to air, satellite and cable access to media not withstanding the radio and newspaper networks, I am pretty sure much of Victoria was aware of dangers as a result of this heat wave. So why did a disaster of this magnitude occur? I guess the answers may not fully be known but any inquiry should probably bring to light various case by case scenarios. The distance of the fire to the victims, the speed of the fire, community awareness and preparedness, warning systems and whether there was sufficient time to reach out to all people and the time required to evacuate, whether people are willing to take head of warnings, whether evacuations at specific time frames before the event is more dangerous than remaining in the housholds and were people wanting to remain home to protect their properties, the lack of visibility due to the amount of smoke, designs of homes and fire prevention (cleaning of gutters and around the house prior to an event), power outages and blackouts due to heat and the fires themselves, increase in population, the safety of fire and emergency crews themselves and limitations of the cranes to fly where there is thick smoke, the list goes on...

Furthermore, you can have the most incredible warnings in place, like the tornado warnings and procedures in Tornado Alley and there again many lives were lost last year from tornadoes. Some people after many years either become complacent (perhaps thinking that we have better technology and warning systems and equipment to fight fires for instance). Even the events such as New Orleans and Hurricane Katrina were predicted by experts way before the event and also by storm chasers and meteorologists few days prior. Look at the death toll in that event. I was there during Greensburg tornado and knew that the tornado going through a town that had sirens blazing for 15 minutes or so prior there will most likely be casualties. The extreme conditions on this day in Victoria (record breaking heat, years of low rainfall and very dry strong north westerly winds) meant that fires were literally exploding.

The question remains: how many people do you evacuate and who (from what areas?). You have to consider hospitals for instance and homes for the elderly. One wind change and the equation is a different story altogether. Also, people who have been in fires know that it is a series of attacks. First the embers and then the fireball crown fire followed by the ground fire. Having been in a not so intense but still serious fire, the speed a fire travels particularly up an incline is incredible. In the case of the extreme conditions in Victoria, the intensity and heat of the fire would have been somewhat scary, the speed too difficult to outrun if not evacuated in sufficient time. And then you have complication of embers and possibly lightning strikes from the pyrocumulonimbus cloud possibly starting more fires!

What are your thoughts and have I simply lost the plot here at midnight?

Regards,

Jimmy Deguara
« Last Edit: 10 February 2009, 03:52:16 AM by Jimmy Deguara »
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Offline Colin Maitland

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Re: Natural disasters and preventative measures
« Reply #1 on: 10 February 2009, 02:26:07 AM »
No, you have not lost the plot, there is much to consider, I was just damned upset last night when I was inappropriately blowing off some steam, or lost the plot.. I found this article from CFS regarding the Siren system. As I dont know if this part of south Australia was affected by fires or if the system worked. The CFS realised the dangers and put a plan into action so it could commence in JAN 2009. This could be a least a starting point. You dont know where this will lead and what they will learn from it, but it is starting point.

Mitcham Hills Bushfire Siren Trial  (http://www.cfs.sa.gov.au/site/community_information/mitcham_hills_bushfire_siren_trial.jsp)

The SA Country Fire Service in partnership with the Blackwood and Belair District Community Association and the Blackwood South Neighbourhood Watch is conducting a bushfire warning siren trial in the Mitcham Hills area in January 2009 until the end of the Fire Danger Season.

The purpose of the trial is to evaluate the effectiveness of sirens for alerting the community to bushfire and to assess the use of sirens as a stimulus for appropriate community response.

It has been agreed that the sirens will be sounded for any CFS bomber response to bushfire or grassfire in the Mitcham Hills area.  Sirens will also be activated at the discretion of the local CFS if fires in adjacent areas are likely to pose a threat to the Mitcham Hills community.   

Sirens are located at:

    * Belair Fire Stations
    * Blackwood Fire Stations
    * Eden Hills Fire Stations
    * Myrtle Road
    * Blackwood Water Tower

These sirens will be sounded simultaneously for the period of the trial.

CFS is seeking 500 residents from the Mitcham Hills area to participate in the siren trial which will require the completion of a pre and post trial survey and a log of observations and actions upon hearing the siren.

Concern has been expressed regarding the value of siren activation for alerting the community and CFS advises that residents should not be reliant solely on the sounding of sirens but rather use every means available to remain aware of bushfire threat including weather forecasts, radio broadcasts, local telephone trees etc. 

The intention of siren activation is to prompt community members to seek further information on bushfire in the area and to put their Bushfire Action Plan in place.

DO NOT CALL 000 WHEN YOU HEAR A SIREN

DO get information when you hear a siren by;

    * Logging on to CFS website for details
    * Calling CFS Bushfire Information Hotline 1300 362 361
    * Listening to your local ABC AM or FiveAA radio station

If you are interested in being part of the trial you can register at CFS Bushfire Siren Trial

On completion of the pre-trial survey you will be sent a log book for completion whenever you hear the siren in your area and the post-trial survey will be published on the website at the completion of the trial.

The CFS stated
People who live in high fire risk areas will need to activate their bushfire action plans and be prepared to swing into action by either staying and defending their property or leaving early."
A study released by the CFS in January last year showed only 13 per cent of households had a bushfire action plan and 69 per cent of those without had no intention of making one.
http://www.cfs.sa.gov.au/public/download.jsp?id=2114

« Last Edit: 10 February 2009, 10:43:35 AM by coltan »

Offline Colin Maitland

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Re: Natural disasters and preventative measures
« Reply #2 on: 10 February 2009, 05:20:14 AM »
On a slight different angle, in your heading you said,
"The purpose of this thread is to discuss natural disaster preparedness."

this is another way you personally can be prepared in case of evacuation or survival due to loss of power and other resources. .

I was reading many articles from people who survived but lost everything ( inc. photos, documents,etc). One important thing, in being prepared, as in the event of an evacuation or survival, that I have been told is that of an emergency grab bag. We have one for each member in our house.

Some of you may already know of, or have one . But the idea behind it is to have emergency food and min. water for at least 2-3 days, ( we were told min 3 days), clothing and documentation.. I have hard copies of documentation of births, marriage and insurance certificates. I also decided to download photos and documentations onto a USB memory stick, 8 gig or more, or a few 4 gig (cheaper).

This is a list of suggested grab bags.

This is a collection of everyday items most of which you will already have or can purchase from local supermarket that you and your family may require during an emergency. Should you forced to evacuate your premises, or should you be without normal utilities, this 'grab bag' will provide you with the necessities.

Choose a sturdy, easy-to-carry bag or storage box for your 'grab bag'. The contents may vary depending on your location, the number of houses or friends close by, the
type of emergency, the nature of your lifestyle, any children and/or pets you may have.

    * Portable radio with spare batteries.
    * Torch with spare batteries or wind up, last longer and lighter.
    * Candles and waterproof matches.
    * First aid kit
    * Important documents or copies of important documents
    * List of emergency contact numbers
    * A waterproof bag for valuables and mementoes
    * A good supply of required medication
    * Any special requirements for babies and the disabled, infirm or elderly.
    * Bottled water, food, manual can opener compact eating utensils   
    * Spare set of practical clothes and strong shoes including rain coat.
    * Toilet paper, plastic bags and other hygiene products
     

Your Grab Bag needs to be stored in a safe secure area close to your main emergency exit, but in an area that is unlikely to be an initial fire start point.

there is many sights to gather good ideas on this some from google http://www.google.com.au/search?source=ig&hl=en&rlz=1G1GGLQ_ENAU314&=&q=emergency+grab+bags&btnG=Google+

Offline Harley Pearman

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Re: Natural disasters and preventative measures
« Reply #3 on: 10 February 2009, 05:48:59 AM »
I am a member of Australian Geographic and Australian Geographic recently prepared an excellent article on the following:-

a) Bushfire management.
b) How to prepare a home for Ember attack during a bushfire.

With simple and superb diagrams. More importantly the article addresses issues of ember attack based upon the concept of "The weakest Link" . It addresses the defences available.

Australian Geographic - July to September 2008 Edition. Titled - Fire Alarm - Edition 91, Pages 58 to 69.

Suitable websites provided include:-

www.bushfirecrc.com (For bushfire knowledge and study)
www.australiangeographic.com.au

With 750 homes lost in the Victorian bushfires, Australian Geographic looks at Ember attack during a bushfire and survival for a home and residents specific to Ember Attacks including:-

Roof - Top entry:

In a bushfire, most houses can survive the initial blast of the fire front but burn down later from the inside out from embers getting inside (CSIRO Fire Researcher, Justin Leonard).

Embers can get into roofs via gaps under roof tiles. A layer of boarding under the tiles can reduce the incidence of embers but it must not have holes from work or repairs.

Sheds and garden accessories:

A timber garden shed should not be closer than 12 metres from a house. A steel shed with no windows will not emit as much flame and radiation even if the contents catch fire. A steel garden shed may be appropriate.

Garbage bins:

Placing plastic wheelie bins close to a home during a fire is inappropriate.

Garden beds:

Placing garden beds near a home is a risk. These can catch fire and considered inappropriate planning for bushfire preparation.

Fences:

Steel fences are more appropriate rather than fences constructed of timber.

Gutter plugs:

Buy gutter plugs and keep them handy so gutters can fill with water when required. Gutters should not be allowed to fill with litter.

Flames trees:

Some trees near a home can help to prevent houses burning down by reducing the heat hitting a house. Species influences combustibility. Pines and Eucalyptus trees are inappropriate species. This requires expert advice from a local nursery.

What goes up:

Air vents, toilet flues and chimneys are weak links unless gaps of 2 mm are screened with metal flywire to keep out embers.

Parking cars:

Motor cars should be parked 10 or more metres from homes. A car parked too close to a home will cause heat radiation that can ignite the house. A car should be safe in a garage that is ember proof. Unfortunately most garages have too many holes that allows embers to get in.

Windows:

Windows left open allows embers to get in. Flyscreens should be fitted to windows to keep embers out and windows closed.

Door entrances:

The front door mat can catch alight and wind can blow the flames or embers inside.

Storage:

Any under floor storage should be totally sealed and even boxed off preventing leaves and rubbish from accumulating here. Without 2 mm metal mesh screens, embers may still get through the gaps, setting fire to anything flammable.

A safe house is critical in bushfire prone areas and a house that follows the safety guidelines does stand a better chance of surviving an ember attack.

The problem for so many houses is that it seems people are well prepared but "The Weakest Link" principal is not well thought out. One can have the perfect house and design but if there is just one thing wrong, the risk of a house burning down is greatly increased.

Apparently an assessment system is being trialed by the CSIRO that should be implemented soon that gives a person a probability of loss of a home based on "The Weakest Link" approach. The owners can choose to knock factors off. A score of zero may not be appropriate as that entails someone living in a concrete bunker.

However, there are 2 critical tips for those living in bushfire prone areas being:-

Screen any gap of more than 2 mm.
Install appropriate flyscreens on windows to close the gaps.

The websites and links to this article is provided above.

Harley Pearman

Offline Colin Maitland

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Climate change experts have warned that severe weather events are likely to occur more often in Australia as global warming continues.

Commenting on the Victorian bushfires, climatologist Professor David Karoly told the ABC's Lateline program on Monday night that hot temperatures in Melbourne on Saturday and in many parts of southeastern Australia were "unprecedented".

"The records were broken by a large amount and you cannot explain that just by natural variability," he said.

"What we are seeing now is that the chances of these sorts of extreme fire weather situations are occurring much more rapidly in the last ten years due to climate change."

Scientist Greg Holland, from the US National Centre for Atmospheric Research, said it was an unfortunate fact of life that high levels of greenhouse gases would "be with us for decades".

"We definitely need to change our habits so that we can leave our children and our children's children with a better world to live in," he said on Lateline.

"In the meantime we are going to have to adapt, we are going to have to accept that it is not going to be six days per summer of extreme temperatures.

"It may be 20 days per summer of extreme temperatures.

"And we have to take the appropriate actions to actually live with those conditions."

On Monday, Victorian Premier John Brumby said a royal commission would investigate every aspect of the Victorian bushfires, including the possibility of greater danger resulting from climate change.

« Last Edit: 11 February 2009, 04:38:14 AM by coltan »

Offline Colin Maitland

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Re: Natural disasters and preventative measures
« Reply #5 on: 11 February 2009, 03:00:38 AM »
http://www.ema.gov.au/agd/ema/emainternet.nsf/Page/Communities_Natural_Disasters_NDMP_Natural_Disasters_Mitigatio) }

I know some of these country towns ars very long standing, but land management, especially after 7 years of drought, has not be addressed and other issues are involved. 

Since this act came into existence I know in the building game, it has not been fully upheld. I know of one luxury estate, recently built, that will be a least 30 feet under water when another 1974 flood hits Brisbane.

Another headline posted Friday  Feb 09 at 7.08 am  "Ash Wednesday' warning as Victoria bakes

"Victorian fire authorities are preparing for extreme fire conditions today and tomorrow, with conditions being compared to those before the 1983 Ash Wednesday bushfires which killed 47 people."

Unfortunately with human nature, you have the issue of Authority, in which some people with a little power feel they are god. " I have seen this so many times, a person of little authority has told the person in charge that such and such has to happen now! The person of authority did not like the push, so went out, had a coffee, phoned his wife, came back in, and made the decision to go ahead with what was told to him half an hour earlier (his reply was "nobody will tell me what to do when I am in charge". that is in very nice english,no harsh words quoted). In this case it was loss of man power, which cost money. I am being carefull on how I try to explain this, but I think you get the general idea. You put that into a disaster management or alert scenario, how many lives could this costs.

It was, not as if nobody new of the impending event, but we have to see what the inquiry unfolds and hopefully a better disaster management and prevention of high loss of lives that could have been avoidable in some instances.

« Last Edit: 11 February 2009, 04:40:33 AM by coltan »

Offline Colin Maitland

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Re: Natural disasters and preventative measures
« Reply #6 on: 11 February 2009, 06:16:38 AM »
This is an update from Bigpond News. I have just posted as it was written, it is called

Bushfire communications lacking - Brumby

Communications systems did not work as well as they should have during the devastating Victorian bushfires, Victorian Premier John Brumby says.

Mr Brumby will this week release the terms of reference for a royal commission into the bushfires.

'I think communications will be part of everything being on the table,' Mr Brumby told the Seven Network.

'There's no doubt that in some areas communications didn't work as well as they should.

'In some areas there was just massive overload for example on mobile phone systems and you couldn't get through, and I think many Victorians would have experienced that on Saturday.'

Mr Brumby said he had written to Prime Minister Kevin Rudd several months ago about whether a national emergency warning information system should be introduced.

'This would be like a text message which goes out to everybody in fire-affected areas,' he said.

'What happened on Saturday... the temperatures, the intensity, the wind, by late Saturday afternoon the fires were just moving so rapidly.

'Some of them were moving at 40 or 50km/h, there were virtually no systems that could have warned people in time of what was arriving, so we've got to look at the latest technology.'

No stone would be left unturned, he said.

'I'll be releasing the terms of reference later this week but I would want them, the commission, to make recommendations to the parliament and to the government about the lessons we can learn from what occurred on the weekend,' Mr Brumby said.

'They'll look at all of the facts, all of the information, whether it's the stay-or-go policy that's reviewed, there'll be so many things I think which will be on the table and I want from the royal commission recommendations that we can put in place to make sure that an event like this will never ever happen again in our lifetime.'

Offline Mike

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Re: Natural disasters and preventative measures
« Reply #7 on: 11 February 2009, 01:19:47 PM »
I echo most of the comments given above.  There's not a lot I can offer by way of opinion simply because the information given is relevant and intelligent.  Thanks all for posting so much info.  It's regrettable that lives have to be lost in order for authorities to make change,but circumstances change with each event and we can only adapt to these things and learn. Preparedness and being alert to what 'may' happen instead of complacency and 'she'll be right' which we're all accustomed.
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Offline Colin Maitland

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Re: Natural disasters and preventative measures
« Reply #8 on: 13 February 2009, 02:10:24 PM »
the latest suggestion to be brought the conference table is for a Australian wide warning system.

It was said today on big pond news that  an emergency warning system for the whole of Australia should be set up before the next fire season, Victorian Emergency Services Commissioner Bruce Esplin has said.

Mr Esplin said the system could be used for a range of emergencies, including bushfires, floods, a terrorist attack or a tsunami.

The commissioner said he was frustrated by the delays in establishing a system that would send a message to phones during an emergency, and blamed this on bickering between the states and territories about how it would operate.

He appealed for this to end and for a national system to be set up.

'We must agree on a system and put it in place before the next season,' Mr Esplin said.

'I think it's taken too long and I think we need to work as a country, not as separate states and territories, and it's time we did that and protected our community.'

Referred to as 'electronic door knocks', the system could send a text or voice message to land lines and mobile telephones, he said.

A landline system has been tested in Victoria and Western Australia which would involve people volunteering to place themselves on a register to receive calls.(end Story)

Another idea suggested, wasthat of underground bunkers being built underground, at least it is a step in the right area, but I don't know if this would be totally practical, looking at the worst case scenarios problems that could arise. Eg, you need mechanical hydraulics to stop water build up or flooding, you have the scenario of the house collapsing on top of escape route if the bunker was built under the house,it may take a few days or a week for rescue squads to reach you. Aniother problem, or for example, it may simply be impossible to dig into the solid rock in certain places, say the Granite belt area of QLD/ NSW.  You can build an above ground bunker/ storm/ panic room into the house. Which may be a bit more practical and cost effective but, as you can appreciate they all have pros and cons for each. But it sounds like they are starting to move in the right direction which is excellent news. Just hope they don't rush into without proper study or thought.
 

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Re: Natural disasters and preventative measures
« Reply #9 on: 13 February 2009, 03:20:05 PM »
Having been born and raised in a bushfire prone area and seen my father race out the door many times as a child when ever the fire phone went off or the siren sounded and having seen a few fires come close to Kalangadoo only for the wind to change at the last minute i've learnt a few things that can increase your chances of surviving a monster fire storm

Fire Fighting Equipment

Having a wide variety of fire fighting equipment such as mutiple garden hoses, knapsacks,hessain bags,buckets,shovels,hoes,rakes and so on gives you an unlimited arsenal to safeguard against ember attacks

Water Supply
I've found through my years as a fire fighter that having a reliable honda petrol driven fire pump connected to a bore or 2 big rainwater tanks gives you an unlimited supply of water that can be used to fight embers and main fire front

Also every day ordinary objects such as empty fuel drums and broken down washing machines can be used for holding water to fill buckets up and wetting down hessain bags

Personal Protective Equipment

I cant stress this enough proper PPE is essential in order to fight fires and come out in one piece the basic PPE can be made up of simple heavy duty jeans, woolen jumper, steel capped boots, gloves,safety glasses or goggles, dust mask and a wide brimmed hat

But if you want to spend abit more money buying a pair of work overalls and a safety helmet works just as well along with gloves,mask,goggles and boots


Communications

It doesnt matter if you live in a country town or on a farming property keeping in contact with family members during a bushfire emergency if you are evacuating or defending your home/property is really important a pair of cheap UHF hand held radios can be vital when it comes to communications due to their range being anywhere between 4 kms-10 kms 


 

Offline Richary

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Re: Natural disasters and preventative measures
« Reply #10 on: 13 February 2009, 04:32:10 PM »
Before I reply to Robert's comments I will mention the earlier issue of emergency service communications. This has been recognised during previous bushfire emergencies over many years. No matter what the system there are only a limited number of radio channels available at any one time. While I don't work in that area I have been interested in scanning in the past and have a fairly good knowledge of how it all works (though I can't comment directly on the Victorian system).

In the old days the local BFB had a number of channels they could use that only they had access to. That worked fine, until a major event when you could have multiple crews in different (but geographically close) areas all fighting fires and needing their own comms. And didn't allow interoperability with other agencies like police, metropolitan fire services and the like.

The various state governments decided to upgrade to a trunking system among all agencies. Who you talk to is controlled by "talkgroups" on your radio. While in theory this gives suitably programmed radios the ability to talk to other agencies, it also has a limitation in that the local repeater may have anywhere from 3-4 channels in a remote area to maybe 15-20 available. It needs to be remembered that these channels are not only used by the various rural/bushfire services, but all other government agencies as well. Including less urgent ones like electricity, water, prison transport, main roads and so on. They are all competing for the number of channels available on the local repeater.

The system has an added advantage (at least during quiet times). If a vehicle is out of range of it's local repeater but in range of another then the talkgroup will also be relayed over that one. So you have a true statewide network. I used to know people who when travelling out of area would monitor their local talkgroup to see what was going on back at home, even though they could of course not respond if something happened.

Of course in an emergency situation that simply ties up another available channel in another area. Now while on at least some of the systems the fire etc services have priority over agencies like main roads and the water board, in a case like this with multiple fires over a large area the amount of message queueing must have been horrendous. Hit the transmit button and the system comes back with a busy message. Hit the emergency button if needed and hope it can clear a channel for you.


Having a wide variety of fire fighting equipment such as mutiple garden hoses, knapsacks,hessain bags,buckets,shovels,hoes,rakes and so on gives you an unlimited arsenal to safeguard against ember attacks

Agreed, though one of the reports I saw today said the fire travelled 25km up a hill in 7 minutes. That works out at a speed of over 200 kph. With a fire attacking like that (if true) the decision to fight or flee will be too late. And from the descriptions even the people who had everything ready and set up (water pumps, hoses etc) were simply overwhelmed with the fire ferocity - admittedly this was a particularly extreme event though.

Quote
Water Supply
I've found through my years as a fire fighter that having a reliable honda petrol driven fire pump connected to a bore or 2 big rainwater tanks gives you an unlimited supply of water that can be used to fight embers and main fire front

Agree this would be particularly useful, though I also saw one report the fire sucked so much oxygen out of the air one guys generator and pumps stopped working. Again, this would only be in very extreme conditions rather than a "normal" bushfire.

Quote
Personal Protective Equipment

I cant stress this enough proper PPE is essential in order to fight fires and come out in one piece the basic PPE can be made up of simple heavy duty jeans, woolen jumper, steel capped boots, gloves,safety glasses or goggles, dust mask and a wide brimmed hat

But if you want to spend abit more money buying a pair of work overalls and a safety helmet works just as well along with gloves,mask,goggles and boots

Yes the photos in today's paper of the guy on top of the pub fighting embers in thongs and shorts (nothing else) border on stupidity, perhaps brought on by necessity however as there were women and children sheltering below him. But in those conditions I would be dressed suitably early on with whatever I had available. And remember - no synthetic clothing. It will just melt and burn you. Cotton or wool.


Quote
It doesnt matter if you live in a country town or on a farming property keeping in contact with family members during a bushfire emergency if you are evacuating or defending your home/property is really important a pair of cheap UHF hand held radios can be vital when it comes to communications due to their range being anywhere between 4 kms-10 kms 

Depending on line of sight, but around a property would be valuable. I have got into a repeater 150km away with my 1/2 watt handheld from the top of a mountain, and again had trouble locally depending on topography. Though I suspect channels might have been rather busy on those as well! In the emergency situation encountered a better pair with selcall or similar facility would have been more use, but then you might only need that once in 20 years.

I agree. If you live in one of those areas it is better to spend the time and money being prepared well before. No use thinking about what you might need when the fire is just on the other side of the ridge.

Robert1984

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Re: Natural disasters and preventative measures
« Reply #11 on: 13 February 2009, 05:20:09 PM »
Quote
In the old days the local BFB had a number of channels they could use that only they had access to. That worked fine, until a major event when you could have multiple crews in different (but geographically close) areas all fighting fires and needing their own comms. And didn't allow interoperability with other agencies like police, metropolitan fire services and the like.

Back in the 80's nearly every EFS volunteer in Kalangadoo had a crystal fitted scanner with only 10 channels as my dad owned one of these and the truck radios were only programmed with 6 channels until late 80's early 90's.... the channel order in the 6 channel radios were

1.SHQ
2.Regional
3.Penola Group
4.Millicent Group
5.Port Mac Group
6.General Use Channel

This caused alot of problems during Ash Wednesday according to my Dad cause every channel was jammed with either mayday calls or general fire traffic plus the conditions made it impossible to transmit with so much smoke in the air


Quote
The various state governments decided to upgrade to a trunking system among all agencies. Who you talk to is controlled by "talkgroups" on your radio. While in theory this gives suitably programmed radios the ability to talk to other agencies, it also has a limitation in that the local repeater may have anywhere from 3-4 channels in a remote area to maybe 15-20 available. It needs to be remembered that these channels are not only used by the various rural/bushfire services, but all other government agencies as well. Including less urgent ones like electricity, water, prison transport, main roads and so on. They are all competing for the number of channels available on the local repeater.

Here in South Australia we have a similar trunk radio system called the SAGRN but even during a major disaster regardless of how good the radio network is designed there will be lots of problems including repeater towers being burnt or non operational and talkgroups/channels being jammed or transmission not being recieved due to smoke disabiling the signal from getting from point A to Point B
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
According to the ACREM NSW webpage their radio monitors coordinated fire ground traffic for the RFS during the 1994 NSW bushfires by keeping in contact with fuel tankers being used as water tankers as well as answering calls for help this was done on the 27 Mhz and UHF emergency channels

So in the event of a communication breakdown during another natural disaster why not utilize the services of CREST Victoria,ACREM NSW or ACRM SA cause UHF,27 Mhz and HF radios can be just as effective as trunked radio systems 






 

 

Offline Michael Bath

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Re: Natural disasters and preventative measures
« Reply #12 on: 14 February 2009, 01:32:11 AM »
Coltan and all - there is an Early Warning System that has been operational since December 2007. I work for them: www.ewn.com.au

It is used every day to send alerts via web / email / pager / SMS / landline for severe thunderstorms, tropical cyclones, floods and bushfires

EWN offered the internet based system free of charge to the VIC Govt and every other relevant govt department / council around the nation during 2008. Getting any interest from the bureaucrats has been extremely frustrating. Maybe they think they have to spend millions on some massive Telstra thing ?   Bruce Esplin's department was given a demo last June !

EWN is an opt-in system. As has been mentioned you can't just put everyone's phone number into an alerting system. Every one who joins up (free) is assigned a latitude and longitude based on their address. A Google maps interface is used to send the alerts - which are delivered immediately and simultaneously to thousands of people at once.

The system is so simple to use and works now. The CFA and others would use it to send the alerts as having local knowledge is very important in relaying the correct message. The same goes for floods, the SES or local councils know the people in flood areas. It would be simple for them to use EWN to alert those people.

It has been very frustrating and some of those spokespeople in the news are lying if they say they have not heard of the Early Warning Network.

Location: Mcleans Ridges, NSW Northern Rivers
Australian Severe Weather:   http://australiasevereweather.com/
Lightning Photography:   http://www.lightningphotography.com/
Early Warning Network: http://www.ewn.com.au
Contact: Michael Bath

Offline Colin Maitland

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Re: Natural disasters and preventative measures
« Reply #13 on: 14 February 2009, 02:11:47 AM »
To Michael Bath,

Thanks very much, I actually registered with www.ewn.com.au.  thankyou for that information, very much appreciated.


Cheers
Col

Robert1984

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Re: Natural disasters and preventative measures
« Reply #14 on: 14 February 2009, 04:21:22 AM »
The best early warning system that would work is a simple warning siren placed in a strategic place where it can be heard by everyone so they know that a fire is happening close by of course on Black Saturday this would have been useless as towns were wiped off the map in the blink of an eye

But under normal conditions such as a 38 degree day with low humidity and moderate winds the fire siren system can work in giving people a choice of staying or leaving before anything happens having grown up hearing a fire siren going off on an almost daily basis during summer cause of a fire happening somewhere

I think its about time we maybe take a page out of the Americans play book and introduce weather alert radios that people can monitor for Fire weather,Severe storm and Flash flood warnings/alerts

If this isnt a good idea then i dont know what is  ;)



 
« Last Edit: 14 February 2009, 04:28:34 AM by Robert1984 »