Sirens will be used across Victoria to alert communities to emergencies and possible danger under a new policy announced today by Deputy Premier and Minister for Police and Emergency Services Peter Ryan.
Mr Ryan said the new policy would ensure fixed public sirens and CFA Brigade sirens could be made available to alert communities about all emergency incidents including bushfires, storms and floods.
The policy, Use of Sirens for Brigade and Community Alerting, has been developed by Victoria’s Fire Services Commissioner with the CFA and the Office of the Emergency Services Commissioner.
Mr Ryan said it significantly built on recommendation 4.7 of the Bushfires Royal Commission Interim Report which stated: ‘The Office of the Emergency Services Commissioner and the CFA develop guidelines for the use of sirens in communities that decide to use a siren as part of their response to bushfires’.
“The Victorian Coalition Government has gone a step further than the Bushfires Royal Commission recommendation by adopting an ‘all-hazards and all-emergencies approach’ around the use of sirens,” Mr Ryan said.
“This policy, which will be in place prior to the next bushfire season, will add value to Victoria’s existing network of 600 community and CFA sirens which are currently under-utilised. It provides an additional tool for emergency services to practically and effectively warn people about impending danger.”
Under the Policy, if a siren is activated, the sound will indicate one of two scenarios:
· A short, 90-second signal will indicate a CFA Brigade has responded to an emergency incident nearby (alerting fire brigade members to attend emergency callouts); or
· A prolonged, five-minute signal will indicate a current emergency has been identified in the local area and people should ‘seek further information’.
Mr Ryan said sirens would not be suitable for all communities and that they were not a stand-alone warning system but part of a suite of tools the emergency services could use to communicate with the public.
“A siren is a signal for individuals to seek more information about an emergency incident but it will not tell you what type of emergency has occurred or transmit specific details about an incident,” Mr Ryan said.
“Emergency services use a range of channels to provide warnings and alerts to communities, including Victoria’s emergency broadcasters, the CFA and SES websites, as well the Victorian Bushfire Information Line on 1800 240 667.”
Mr Ryan said the new sirens policy and guidelines offered advice to communities on how to go about establishing a Community Alert Siren where no CFA siren existed.
“Victorian Coalition Government grants are available for bushfire safety initiatives, including through the $5 million Fire Ready Communities grants,” Mr Ryan said.
“Looking to the future, the Coalition Government plans to integrate Victoria’s network of sirens with the telephone-based Emergency Alert system to ensure individuals have access to multiple, simultaneous alerts about emergency incidents in their area.
“We need to create an emergency system that Victoria can use for the long-term and relevant to the demands of the 21st century.
“The Coalition Government is also in the process of developing an emergency management White Paper which will act as a blueprint for the reform of Victoria’s emergency management arrangements to better serve all Victorians, and to develop a real ‘all hazards, all agencies’ approach,” Mr Ryan said.
For more information please visit www.firecommissioner.vic.gov.au
Media contact: Sonia Heath 0413 485 526