No decision yet on new fire escape route

No decision yet on new fire escape route

Jarrahdale resident Garry Tomlinson is concerned about the condition of the shire's verges and the lack of adequate emergency routes out of Millbrook Estate in the case of an emergency. Photograph - Richard Polden.

A number of concerned residents met at Jarrahdale Fire Station last week to hear how they should evacuate from the Millbrook Estate town site should there be an emergency situation.

Brian Owston, the shire’s acting manager of emergency services and community safety, chaired the meeting and fielded many concerns residents had about the lack of adequate emergency routes out of the estate in the case of an emergency.

The Department of Biodiversity, Conservation and Attractions advised the shire in writing on November 12 that the emergency exit route through the Serpentine National Park is not a designated or gazetted fire escape route and they do not have the capacity to maintain them as fire escape routes for vehicles.

At the meeting Mr Owston described Millbrook as a very high-risk area with steep topography and with only one road in.

“We have removed evacuation signs and put access point or access route signs up instead,” he said.

“Through the forest is now an escape at-your-own-risk access route.

“We don’t want people to think they can evacuate through there safely.”

Mr Owston also discussed the issues the region had with  telecommunication failures and highlighted the need to install additional sirens to be located at the Jarrahdale Fire Station and Millbrook Winery that could be remotely activated in the case of an emergency.

“The highest fire threat is going to come from the east,” he said.

“If there is a phone outage, Telstra will now notify both our IT department and our emergency services department so we can alert the brigades so they can put emergency plans in place to protect the community.”

The Department of Biodiversity, Conservation and Attractions was asked to comment about the maintenance works on the previous emergency escape route through the department’s own Serpentine National Park.

They were also asked if the department was in talks with the shire about providing residents with an alternate suitable emergency evacuation route, however The Examiner was told to contact the shire directly.

When the Shire of Serpentine Jarrahdale was asked about the current state of the previous evacuation route and why it was no longer suitable for residents who needed to escape Millbrook Estate, the shire responded by saying the Department of Biodiversity, Conservation and Attractions should be contacted for comment.