Lavers Hill community fire refuge open

23 September 2018

23 September 2018

Victoria’s fifth community fire refuge at Lavers Hill is officially open.

Community fire refuges are designated buildings that can be opened during a bushfire to provide the community with short-term, last resort shelter from the immediate life-threatening effects of a bushfire.

The purpose built refuge at Lavers Hill has been incorporated into the design of the new fire station, co-located with Ambulance Victoria and SES, which can provide protection from radiant heat and embers as a last resort shelter option when all other plans have failed.

Emergency Management Commissioner Andrew Crisp said the risk in the Otways made Lavers Hill an appropriate location for a community fire refuge.

“The community should not consider a community fire refuge as their first option when a bushfire threatens,” he said.

“There are some circumstances when people may need to seek a last resort shelter option, because their plans, such as leaving early or defending a well-prepared home, have failed,” he said.

A range of criteria needs to be met in order to build a community fire refuge. This includes finding a suitable site, building to the required standards and other considerations including community access and egress.

“Not all communities are suitable for a community fire refuge. At Lavers Hill other bushfire shelter options have proven impractical and a community evacuation exercise in 2011 proved to be problematic, leading to a decision to build a refuge when the existing fire station was replaced,” he said.

“The message to all Victorians is to increase your understanding of your fire risk and do not wait and see.

“Ensure you have a well-prepared and maintained property and good planning ahead of days of increased fire risk.

“Leaving the night before or the morning of an extreme or Code Red Day is always the safest option.”

Go to Community Fire Refuges (External link) for more information.