Mine Safety Alert: Severe weather and fire preparedness

Media release | 11 February 2017

Weekend weather overview

The current very hot and dry weather conditions will continue until a southerly change is likely to ease the conditions late Sunday night. The Bureau of Meteorology (BoM) has advised that fire weather warnings are likely during the weekend due to increasing wind speeds in conjunction with the extremely hot  temperatures. Fire Danger ratings are expected to be Severe during Saturday and up to Extreme or Catastrophic on Sunday due to an increase in wind speed, and persistent high temperatures.

“The forecast Catastrophic fire weather conditions on Sunday in the upper Hunter and fringes of adjoining districts are rare in NSW. Sunday is shaping up to be the worst fire weather day so far of the season, which is rare for this time of year.” BoM Media Release 10/02/2017

A total fire ban has been declared across NSW from midnight.

Current position

A briefing was held yesterday (10/02/2017) by the NSW Rural Fire Service (RFS), NSW Police (NSWPF) and other Emergency Service agencies regarding conditions forecast over the Hunter Region on Saturday 11th and Sunday 12th February. The NSW Resources Regulator participated in the briefing.

NSW Rural Fire Service in the Hunter region have boosted firefighting resources including additional aircraft which will be dispatched to all reports of fire along with ground crews.

The RFS requests that mine operators consider the following:

  • All hot works cease until conditions ease on Monday
  • Access to remote areas of open cut mines be limited to essential activities and a reliable method of contact or communication be established
  • Mine workers and site emergency response teams be briefed on forecast conditions
  • Any above ground fire be reported immediately via 000
  • The RFS may require access to water sources at mines, and may seek assistance regarding this during firefighting efforts
  • Consider alternative access and egress routes to and from the mining operation or ‘Shelter in Place’ arrangements for staff in the event of fire
  • Potential power outages may occur due to the impact of fire on electricity infrastructure or due to supply shortages that may lead to outages
  • The impact of unplanned power outages on key mine infrastructure that may affect the health and safety of persons at the operation
  • Monitor the Rural Fire Service web page for fire information, and activate emergency plans as required.

For more information download Safety Bulletin SB17-02 ‘Mines and preparing for fires'

Download the media release