Wire bar­rier con­cern

Alpine Observer - - Front Page - BY STEVE KELLY skelly@ ne­me­dia.com.au

A CFA mem­ber who ad­vises on the health and safety of the re­gion’s fire­fight­ers has warned that con­tin­u­ous wire rope bar­ri­ers could put per­son­nel in grave dan­ger.

Justin Til­son has been in the health and safety role for six years, and although he en­dorses the use of the wire bar­ri­ers, he says the roll­out must in­volve a well thought-out ap­proach.

Some 300 ve­hi­cles col­lided with wire bar­ri­ers in­stalled in 2017, but Mr Til­son warns that con­tin­u­ous streams of wire with­out a break could en­dan­ger emer­gency per­son­nel in bush­fire sce­nar­ios and re­duce safety for mem­bers dur­ing road­side re­sponse.

More than 700km of wire bar­ri­ers have been in­stalled along the Hume be­tween Mel­bourne and Wodonga alone, cost­ing $89 mil­lion of the $340 mil­lion ded­i­cated by the State Gov­ern­ment to in­fra­struc­ture im­prove­ments on high risk ru­ral roads.

“We want the wire bar­ri­ers there be­cause usu­ally it means the dif­fer­ence be­tween re­spond- ing to a fa­tal­ity or just an in­jury with a mo­tor ve­hi­cle ac­ci­dent,” Mr Til­son said.

“This is about the pa­ram­e­ters as to where they’re in­stalled and the min­i­mum safe dis­tances for not just emer­gency re­spon­ders, but even the peo­ple who break down on the side of the road.”

The pa­ram­e­ters he refers to are the turn­around points for emer­gency ve­hi­cles and the dis­tance be­tween the road­side and the wire bar­ri­ers.

Mr Til­son, a 20-year CFA vet­eran, high­lighted that emer­gency re­spon­ders need a safe space to pull off the free­way away from mov­ing traf­fic.

He also noted that fire­fight­ers need a safe and clear way of es­cap­ing a fire if they are over­whelmed by the flames or heat.

Road­side fires are a com­mon type of in­ci­dent with cata- lytic con­vert­ers un­der ve­hi­cles known to be a reg­u­lar fire starter.

“We have been con­sult­ing with VicRoads on how we man­age it be­cause we do want them there – it’s just how we man­age it on free­ways and ma­jor ar­te­rial roads,” he said.

Steph Ryan (MLA, Euroa) launched a pe­ti­tion last week to halt the roll­out of the bar­ri­ers by the State Gov­ern­ment.

She has also called on the Pre­mier and Roads Min­is­ter to in­ves­ti­gate the wire rope bar­ri­ers amid con­cerns they might not meet safety stan­dards when a ve­hi­cle col­lides with a bar­rier.

Chiltern owner/driver Poll Kenny raised sim­i­lar con­cerns with a friend of hers “bounc­ing off” the wire and into an­other car.

“Trucks can’t go to a place to safely pull over and it’s ex­tremely dan­ger­ous for driv­ers,” she said.

“The wire also rips cars open like a knife in cer­tain sit­u­a­tions.”

Ja­clyn Symes (MLC, North­ern Vic­to­ria) fired back at the Op­po­si­tion’s crit­i­cism say­ing it was the Coali­tion Gov­ern­ment who first put the wires in place.

“Flex­i­ble safety bar­ri­ers are proven to save lives, re­duc­ing the risk of head on and runoff-road crashes by 85 per cent - that’s why we’re in­vest­ing them,” Ms Symes said.

“The bar­ri­ers that were in­stalled last year have al­ready been hit more than 300 times - that’s 300 po­ten­tially lifethreat­en­ing col­li­sions avoided.

“Road safety has tra­di­tion­ally been bi­par­ti­san with politi­cians ac­cept­ing the ad­vice from the ex­perts, I find it pretty shame­ful for the Na­tion­als to use im­por­tant road safety is­sues for un­in­formed po­lit­i­cal point scor­ing.”

Fund­ing for the in­fra­struc­ture im­prove­ments is part of the gov­ern­ment’s $1.1 bil­lion ‘To­wards Zero Ac­tion Plan’, which hopes to elim­i­nate deaths on Vic­to­ria’s roads al­to­gether.

To down­load Steph Ryan’s pe­ti­tion go to www.stephryan.com.au.

PHOTO: Emma Hillier

SAFETY FIRST: CFA North East health and safety ad­viser Justin Til­son sup­ports the use of the wire bar­ri­ers by in the right way.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Australia

© PressReader. All rights reserved.