5 December 2019
Key representatives from Rural Fire Service (RFS) Far South Coast, NSW Police and Bega Valley Shire Council met last week to ensure clear messages and processes are in place in relation to the fire access track at the southern end of Mirador Estate, following questions raised by residents.
RFS Far South Coast Superintendent, John Cullen; Chief Inspector Peter Volf of NSW Police; and Bega Valley Shire Council General Manager, Leanne Barnes, announced today that under the agreed protocol, the gate to the fire access road will be unlocked by the RFS in the event of ‘Extreme’ and ‘Catastrophic’ Fire Danger Ratings (FDR’s) and at the discretion of the RFS at times of an incident threatening the immediate area only.
Ms Barnes said the new protocol surrounding the fire access track provides clarity for all concerned.
“Council and our emergency agency partners have noted the concerns expressed by some members of the community and this agreement will provide a consistent and clear approach to the fire access track moving forward,” she said.
“Minor work has been undertaken to remove encroaching vegetation and improve the surface of the track and shoulders to ensure that it is suitable for emergency vehicle access, that there is sufficient room for vehicles to safely pass one another (outside of the immediate gate area off Camilla Court) and it is trafficable by two-wheel drive vehicles.
“It is still absolutely vital to stress that the primary purpose of the track remains to provide access for our emergency services and it should only be used by the public when absolutely necessary,” Ms Barnes said.
RFS Superintendent John Cullen reiterated his clear and consistent message to those living in Mirador and throughout the Shire to take the time to put a bushfire plan in place.
“Know your risk, be prepared and stay informed. Importantly we need people to be aware of the FDR and adjust their activities accordingly,” Mr Cullen said.
“On days with an ‘Extreme’ FDR, leaving early is the safest option for your survival. If you are not prepared to the highest level, leave early in the day. Only consider staying if you are prepared to the highest level – such as your home is specially designed, constructed or modified, and situated to withstand fire, you are well prepared and can actively defend it if a fire starts.
“When the FDR reaches ‘Catastrophic’, for your survival, leaving early is the only option. Leave bush fire prone areas the night before or early in the day – do not just wait and see what happens. Decide when you will leave, where you will go, how you will get there and when you will return. Homes are not designed to withstand fires in catastrophic conditions, so you should leave early,” Superintendent Cullen said.
Chief Inspector Volf, who is also the designated Local Emergency Operations Controller for the Bega Valley, said the new protocol was consistent with the Local Emergency Management Plan.
“Through the agreed protocol we expect confusion to be minimised and unnecessary delays prevented in situations when emergency access and/or the evacuation of residents is required,” Chief Inspector Volf said.
To stay up to date with the latest information surrounding bush fires, visit www.rfs.nsw.gov.au, download the Fires Near Me smartphone app, follow the NSW and Far South Coast RFS on social media, and tune in to ABC radio.
Photo: Aerial view of Mirador and Merimbula.