Nuff Nuff

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Cut My Power & Remove My Ability to make Life-Saving Decisions

An article today in the Herald-Sun claims Power Could be Cut on Catastrophic & High Risk Bushfire Days To Stop Fires 31.03.2010 that Electricity Distributor Powercor, is considering cutting power to high risk towns on days of extreme fire danger to remove the possibility of fires started through fallen/sparking overhead electricity wires.

This outage covers 52 towns, plus those little hamlets in-between, from Angelsea to Bendigo. That means no restaurants, no ice-cream, no take-away, no swimming pools, no shopping centres, no supermarkets, in fact NO tourism. People would learn to stay away and the income lost would destroy 1000’s of lives and certainly more than one business.

In theory it might seem good, but it can’t and won’t work and will cause more deaths than fires will and have.

People rely on electricity for many things, not just air-conditioning. Simple things like:-
Drinking water,
Septic systems,
Toilet flushing,
Fire warnings,
Contact with the outside world,
Hot Water,
Opening and Closing garage doors,
Life-support systems,
Asthma pumps.

These are just SOME of the problems that residents will be faced with. This reaction by Powercor is one of let’s not maintain the lines, let’s not worry about the maintenance, let’s just turn the power off and we can reduce electricity load AND reduce our liability. If’s there’s no power, people can’t sue for downed power lines which may have caused fires. Quote from above article “A Powercor Australia spokesman said turning off the power was a way of preventing electrical assets starting fires in extreme situations.”

Without electricity I would now likely be without my parents – as referred to Here

As a receiver of said electricity and as the payer of said supply charges, I will have to consider not paying the ‘supply charge’ component of my bill as they are not supplying me with a product I am paying for. What would happen then? I would be sued, for not paying a component of my bill, which they failed to supply. Imagine if EVERY person who has their electricity cut on high risk days followed this method, what would be the outcome?

On days when it is being considered cutting power to homes in high-risk areas, these are the exact same days that the very old, the very young, and the frail are most likely to be affected by the heat and this may possibly cause death.

From this article Dept of Health - Environment - 2007 it is claimed that there are 1000 heat-related deaths in people over the age of 65 and that these deaths are expected to climb substantially by 2050. It is possible that a rise in deaths of between 11-16%is possible. Are you prepared to die or allow your parents or children to die because an electricity supplier thinks it’s safer to cut the electricity rather than maintain the lines, like they should have been doing for the past 10-20 years?

I know I'm not prepared to die, although I am prepared for the encroachment of fire on my home and my life, I shouldn't be unfairly punished because I live in an area that is considered high risk. Remember there are areas of metropolitian Melbourne that are also considered high risk and if the fires of Black Saturday had managed to encroach on those areas, the authorities were already prepared to shut major roads and let those suburbs burn.

Electricity suppliers can't cut the power in lieu of maintenance, the governing body MUST ensure that the correct maintenance is done in accordance with all rules, regulations and laws they are governed by.

31.03.10 - 15.24hrs - I've just been shown this article CPUC Rejects SDG&E's Power Shutoff Plan from a San Diego newspaper in the USA. It covers EXACTLY what I have referred to above.

Note:- "Critics of SDG&E's proposal have argued it would leave vast parts of the county without vital services during times of emergency. Water couldn't be pumped, medical devices would be inoperative and residents would not be able to turn on their televisions, radios and computers or receive phone calls to get critical emergency information, according to opponents of the plan."

"The shut-off plan has always been a diversion from the real problem: for years, SDG&E has failed to enact known safety measures that would prevent wildfire caused by its infrastructure,"

Turning off the power will cause the loss of more life, through heat stroke, and/or accidents and house fires, than bushfires would cause. The events of Black Saturday were claimed to be a once in a 100 year event. Yet if the electricity suppliers had it their way - they'd shut off the power when the sun sneezed.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

When is an Official Warning not an Official Warning


3AW Issued an 'Official Warning' Yesterday for the Western Part of Victoria for Sunday. Which you can View Here

An Exert --> "Certainly on Sunday we need Victorians in the western part of the state to be prepared and alert," State Control Centre spokesperson Caroline Douglass said. "People need to understand that even towards the end of the bushfire season the risk of a significant fire is still very real."

This morning, Saturday the 27th March 2010, I checked both the CFA and the DSE sites for media releases or anything that might indicate a danger for people in the western part of the state, and other than the entry on the 3AW blog titled "Extreme fire conditions on Sunday" I am unable to find any reference.

Remember I am only an ordinary resident of the state, I could live anywhere in the state and yet I hear (and see) that a major player in the radio news field issues a warning for an area, that I may live in, may be travelling through, or perhaps have family in, yet I am unable to follow this threat up with either CFA or DSE. Nothing in media releases. nothing on the home page.

It feels like mis-information all over again.

The BoM (Bureau of Meteorology) is showing what appears to be some weather activity to the West of the state which will likely impact the state late Saturday or Sunday. The Official Warning also states "That weather pattern, combined with a strong chance of dry lightning, presents a significant chance of fires."

I don't like putting the cart before the horse, neither do I believe in crying wolf, but it would seem that the CFA/DSE and media outlets either go into overkill or they completely smother the warnings.

I know the Government thinks that most people are idiots and can't look after themselves, but seriously - don't we have the right to KNOW when we MIGHT be in danger, when OUR lives MIGHT be at risk, WHEN OUR families MIGHT be at risk?

If there is such a risk present, then perhaps the CFA/DSE need to ensure that the media releases page located Here SHOULD make reference to what appears to be an official media release by a fire agency?

We have a RIGHT TO KNOW.

Look at Black Saturday, people time and time again claim that they were not warned. There were warnings three days in row that the threat of fire was imminent and yet people claim they did not hear these warnings.

We MUST BE informed, we MUST be told, we MUST Have the ability to make decisions of our OWN accord and live and die by those decisions.

Your Thoughts

And if you are wondering WHY I keep harping on lack of notification or information, this is why My Story I don't want others to have to go through what I and many 1000's of other people did on the 7th February 2009, now known as Black Saturday

Thursday, March 18, 2010

CFA are still playing with our lives and our minds

I have to say that the CFA on the ground do a magnificent job and I dare anyone to argue with me. The problem is with the people using the technology given to them to advise us, the public about what is going on are failing us miserably.

Today a Watch and Act Alert was raised for the Raglan area in the North West of Victoria, an area bordered by the Sunraysia, the Western and the Pyrennes Highways. There was and is nothing wrong with the warnings. They needed to an were raised in a timely manner.

The problem was what the warnings were not showing up on the main page of the CFA incidents site. There were numerous warnings throughout the day – the first one for the 18th March was raised at 7.23am, the second one at 8.55am the next one at 10.30am. There were other warnings issued AFTER this time – but they displayed correctly – so there was no need for me to screen-shot them and post.

So lets have a look at the first screen shot.
Screen shot taken at 9.20am – yet the 8.55am written warning does not display (note that if you clicked the 7.23am link it DOES take you through to the 8.55am warning) but on first look it would appear there have been no further updates since 7.23am

Now the Second screen shot.
Screen shot taken at 9.20am. This is the written warning of 8.55am, (accessed via the 7.23am link) notice that it clearly states that the township of Raglan is likely to be impacted between 8.30am-10.30am. That time is RIGHT NOW, the time I took that screen shot.

The Third screen shot
Screen shot taken at 11.02am – notice that the 7.23am warning is still listed, no mention of the 8.55am warning and now the 10.30am warning makes an appearance.

The Fourth Screen shot
Screen shot taken at 11.11am – notice that the 8.55am warning is still not listed and the 10.30am warning has been removed (it’s only been 9 minutes since the last screen shot)
The residents of Raglan are relying on information that looks to be 3.5hours old, when in fact is it 2.25hours out of date.

The fifth screen shot
Screen shot taken at 11.11am – notice in bold that it clearly stated ACTIVATE YOUR BUSHFIRE SURVIVAL PLAN. As residents of Victoria, this means to get out if planning on leaving and stay and prepare if planning on staying. It can’t get much more serious, if you are planning on leaving.

So a recap – warnings issued at 7.23am, 8.55am. 10.30am and yet from the CFA incident summary page, it would appear that at certain times, only the warning of 7.23am or the warning of 10.30am were issued and no mention of the 8.55am warning.

You have to click through to determine if a fresh warning or not. This is not acceptable.

As residents of Victoria, and as per the interim Royal Commission Report, we are entitled to as accurate information as is available and yet clearly this is not occurring and put our lives at risk.

This is not the first incident that has posed a risk to residents and yet we have not had the information available to enable us to make decisions and judgements on the information available.

Remember we can only rely on ourselves, because the information being provided by those meant to be protect us is sadly lacking from the technology point of view.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Fire Bunkers in The News Again – Are They Safe?

Thursday saw the release of first state government accredited fire-bunker. I understand people are looking for ways to protect their families, pets and valuables but I am not sure that fire bunkers are the answer.

Personally and this is a purely personal thing – I am against bunkers of any sort. I would never use a bunker – but that is MY personal choice. I am concerned for people, perhaps not this year, perhaps not next year, but in 10 or 20 years time, when maintenance has not been done correctly and perhaps the neighbours have moved and no-one knows the location of said bunker.

If the bunker is a commercially purchased bunker, the companies providing these bunkers, clearly state that “ABC does not claim this product will save lives. There is NO Guarantee of personal safety. Nothing works better than timely and safe evacuation.”

It concerns me greatly that people may be putting their lives in the hands of things that may not provide the protection they are expecting.

Some comments from people who know far more than me state:-

From the Master Builders Submission to the Royal Commission
1. Master Builder has participated in discussions with the Building Commission and the State Government’s Building Advisory Council (BAC) regarding bunker installation in high risk bushfire regions.
2. Master Builders does not support mandating bunker construction on private property. We believe that the decision to construct a bunker on private property is a risk management decision for individuals. Thus, we do not believe government has a role to play in restricting individual freedom of choice in this area.
3. Master Builders also does not support the introduction of regulations for bunker design in Victoria. We consider the development of such regulations to be fraught with danger as this could engender the incorrect belief that bunkers will guarantee a persons safety.
4. Master Builders instead recommends the Building Commission develop a voluntary checklist for consumers. Such a checklist would help improve consumer awareness without unnecessarily regulating an area of policy where few absolutes exist. Matters which could be included are:
• Maintenance of tenable conditions;
• Suitable location (ease of access and exit and proximity to vegetation / trees);
• Size, strength and occupancy level;
• Bunker entry and locking mechanisms;
• Capacity to observe fire threat;
• Bottled oxygen supply;
• Appropriate signage to locate the bunker;
• Separation requirements if adjacent to other buildings; and,
• Resistant to embers

From Consumer Affairs – Victoria
Consumers should note that research conducted under Australian conditions has yet to prove that bunkers save lives. They are not compulsory for properties in fire-threatened areas and should not be considered as a substitute for a comprehensive fire safety and evacuation plan.

Not one organisation is prepared to say that these bunkers replace any sort of forward fire preparation and planning and all state that early evacuation is the BEST OPTION IS ALL CASES.

Some experts even fear that a fire bunkers when not being used as a fire bunker – may pose another threat and that is entrapment and suffocation of children and this is something that the authorities are extremely concerned about

My greatest fear is not for tomorrow but in 10-20 years time or even longer, when the location of these bunkers is forgotten by neighbours and when people remove any indication of a bunker or allow trees and shrubs to grow near the bunker, that the existence of the bunker will be forgotten by all except the householders and when the fire approaches, retreat into these bunkers.

What happens if they are trapped? What happens if the air runs out? What happens if smoke does manage to enter the bunker?

Will these people be lost forever, killed by something they thought would save them and people and companies (long since out of business) have proclaimed these bunkers safe to protect human life?

I have spoken to many people from areas affected by the fires of Black Saturday and EVERYONE I spoke to have declared quite loudly that next time (if there is a next time for them) they would prepare their house, stay as long as possible and then move to cleared ground. This is not what I call an ideal solution, but it is a solution they are prepared to take on.

Many people in the Narbethong/Marysville area survived the night by remaining on cleared ground, people in Marysville on the oval and people in Narbethong on ploughed soil. Many residents in both areas declare they would do the same thing again.

They would not retreat to bunkers, they are fully aware of the dangers of what may go wrong and would rather die in the open, where are least they have a chance of surviving or being found after the fire front has passed. It is a well-known fact that the fire-watchers bunker on Mt Gordon in the Marysville/Narbethong area melted. If the proposed occupant had decided to stay he would be dead now. The locals are well aware of this fact and have made their decisions accordingly.

NOTHING AND I MEAN NOTHING is more important than you and your families safety. If you are not 110% prepared both mentally and physically or have previously suffered health problems GET OUT AND GET OUT EARLY.

DO NOT rely on bunkers to save your life. By the time you realise something is wrong it may be too late and too dangerous to exit and you may perish.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

A Forgotten Victim of the Black Saturday Bushfires

My Father

He fought the fires, he survived the fires, he saved his house, He saved some friends, but he could not save them all. in losing his friends and his town, he lost his life.

He never recovered. His nightmare lasted for 13 months. He's free now.

Love you