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Bushfire season on horizon – Wamboin becomes Neighbourhood Safe Place

Wamboin becomes Neighbourhood Safe Place, unveils new option to staying and defending

In late October the Wamboin RFS unveiled a remote-activated spray system for rooftops for use on catastrophic fire days, as the Wamboin community hall was declared a Neighbourhood Safe Place using this innovative system.

In tandem, the RFS installed a weather station at the Wamboin hall. The weather station can be accessed in real time via the internet to provide the community with very localised weather information when deciding if they should invoke their bushfire survival plan. The weather data can be accessed via the Wamboin community website www.wamboincommunity.asn.au and fire brigade.

According to the website for the telemetry–enabled bushfire spray system (TeBWSS) it was developed to provide an alternative to people staying and defending, and can be activated either on-site or remotely through SMS.

Billed also an alternative to fire bunkers, the TeBWSS was developed with the collaboration of the ACT Emergency Services Agency and the University of NSW in Canberra.

According to the website, it uses local weather conditions to calculate the Fire Danger Index (FDI) in real time, as an additional trigger. In the event of failure of the mobile network, power heat activated alcohol bulbs are used as a failsafe. The system also offers internal protection from ember attack and remote monitoring.

Kevin Rowe from the local RFS said of the system installed at the Wamboin hall: “the system can provide 2.5 hours of protection, delivering 900 litres of water per minute through 300 spray heads. It can be manually activated by people on site, remotely by mobile phone or automatically by a system controlled by data from the onsite weather station.”

The Wamboin Community Hall was declared a Neighbourhood Safer Place on Saturday October 25 by Tim Carroll, the RFS Lake George Zone Manager.   Palerang Mayor (and Wamboin resident) Pete Harrison did the honours by hitting the button that started the deluge system, drenching the complex in a fire-protective mist.

 Burra, Fernleigh also to have ‘safe places’

The Wamboin hall is just one of several venues in Palerang that will be adapted for local people requiring a safer place to shelter when their bush fire survival plan fails. The Neighbourhood Safer Places in Burra and Fernleigh Park will be similar to the Wamboin installation with water drenching systems installed.

Tim Carroll emphasised that Neighbourhood Safer Places are not evacuation centres and should be considered as a refuge of last resort.

 Localised weather station important with changing climate and conditions that are not Canberra

The localised weather station is another welcome innovation. A press release from the RFS stated: “the latest scientific research and study proves our climate is changing. Our weather is becoming more extreme with higher temperatures, stronger unpredictable winds, extreme weather storms and lower rainfall.

“Research from the 2003 Canberra fires shows that rapidly changing local weather patterns affects fire conditions and fire behaviours. It is these local weather conditions that provide the triggers for when to act on our individual bushfire survival plans.

“Many parts of our district are over 1000 metres higher than Canberra. This means Canberra weather observations and forecasts may not accurately reflect local weather on days of extreme fire conditions. These new weather stations will bridge that gap, providing real time local data on critical factors such as temperature, wind, humidity and the Fire Danger Index.

For further information log onto the Wamboin Community website at wamboincommunity.asn.au/firebrigade.

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