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Advice for bushfire season

HILLS residents are being reminded of the importance of telecommunications before, during and after a natural disaster.

Telstra regional general manager Boyd Brown said whether it was the ability to call for help, let loved ones know you were okay or getting your business back up and running connectivity was important.

“Even if you don’t live in an area that’s at risk, you might be holidaying or driving through a disaster-prone area, so please remain vigilant and plan ahead so that you are as prepared as you can be should disaster strike,’’ he said.

On behalf of Telstra, Mr Brown has provided an antenna booster to the East Gidgegannup Volunteer Bushfire Brigades to assist them with their mobile communication in times of need.

“We provided the volunteers with a Telstra Go antenna for their fire appliance to boost connectivity when they are travelling to a fire, which obviously was a challenge for brigades in the hilly terrain,” he said.

“This is a very fire-prone district and the teams need good coverage to co-ordinate firefighters as well as help plan to fight a fire.

“We appreciate the work that volunteers do, so if we can in any small way help make their life a little more manageable then we are keen to do that.”

Residents are also being reminded they cannot rely on scheme water supplies during a bushfire if they plan to stay and defend their home. 

A Water Corporation operations general manager Pat Donovan said the utility would do all it could to maintain scheme water during a bushfire but damaged infrastructure or a cut to power could result in the loss of public water supplies. 

“High demand can also lead to a drop in water pressure and water supply tanks can empty quickly,’’ he said.

Mr Donovan said residents planning on defending their home in the event of a bushfire must ensure they had an independent water supply, and a pumping capability in the event of a total loss of power.

“If you chose to stay and defend on the assumption water will keep coming out of your taps – the consequence could be loss of life.

“It is crucial you have your own water supply if you intend to stay and defend your home.

“The scheme water network is designed to provide drinking water to the community – it is not designed for fighting bushfires.

“The Water Corporation is prepared for the bushfire season but cannot guarantee scheme water can be maintained during a bushfire.” 

Mr Brown said Telstra used a range of technologies to support emergency services and impacted communities during times of natural disasters.

“Our preparation for the summer storm and bushfire season begins months in advance, including network testing and developing plans to protect our critical infrastructure in at-risk areas,” Boyd said.

“If disaster strikes, we will be there to work with emergency and essential service organisations to restore any impacted services as quickly as possible. 

“This includes having a range of portable base stations on standby, ready to deploy to provide temporary telecommunications if needed after an emergency situation. 

“It also includes using drones to provide rapid assessments of any damage to our infrastructure.”

To prepare for a bushfire, including having an independent water supply go to: www.firechat.wa.gov.au

About Anita

Anita Mcinnes received a highly commended in the 2009 WA Media Awards suburban section for her reporting. Two of her sons were born at Swan District Hospital and for many years she was a partner in a small business, which operated in the Gingin-Muchea-Bullsbrook area. As a mature age student Anita studied journalism at Curtin University before working in Busselton, Dunsborough and Rockingham with West Regionals. She says the best part of her job is meeting eastern suburb residents and visiting the many attractions in the area.

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