CFA information about firefighting near transmission lines

The Country Fire Authority (CFA) has recently released more information about how firefighting is managed around transmission lines and infrastructure, including aerial firefighting and fighting fires on the ground in proximity to transmission lines.

We recognise that bushfires are a serious concern in regional Victoria and landholders and the community have told us they are concerned the proposed Western Renewables Link may impact firefighting efforts in their area. Potential impacts to fire risk and firefighting efforts are a critical consideration for the planning and design of the Western Renewables Link and we have been engaging regularly with the relevant authorities, including the Country Fire Authority (CFA).

The CFA’s standard operating procedures and training include processes for working around high-voltage transmission lines and large transmission towers/pylons in bushfires and other hazardous conditions. The CFA recently published more information about how they currently operate and manage firefighting around transmission infrastructure, which we wanted to share with you. Topics covered include those raised with us by landholders and the community in relation to the Western Renewables Link, such as aerial firefighting and fighting fires on the ground in proximity to transmission lines. This important information published by the CFA, is now available on the Western Renewables Link project website, Resources page.

In addition, CFA Chief Officer Jason Hefferman recently addressed community concerns about firefighting around transmission lines in a letter to The Weekly Times (15 November 2023):

“[The CFA] recognise our volunteers may have different views in relation to the location of the transmission lines and acknowledge their local insights into potential risk. However, I’d like to clarify the facts. There are dangers for firefighters in relation to potential arcing from overhead transmission lines, but this can, and is, managed through an assessment of the fire and the different responses available.”

“Low-intensity grassfires (with flames less than 2m in height), which don’t produce dense smoke contacting the transmission lines, can be managed on the ground, using normal procedures. Where there is more intense fire activity and dense smoke, a 25m safety buffer is applied. In these instances, there is a range of different fire suppression options, including the use of firefighting aircraft.”

“With regards to new infrastructure, it’s important to note CFA is not the approval authority for location of transmission lines, but we do provide important safety advice and guidance to relevant authorities.”

The CFA is a member of the project’s Environment Effects Statement Technical Reference Group, which is convened by The Department of Transport and Planning. The organisations represented on the group are invited because they have a statutory approvals responsibility relative to the project or because they are public authorities or agencies with technical expertise in relevant topics.

The project’s Environment Effects Statement will also include a detailed technical report on the Bushfire Impact Assessment for this project, including identified impacts and how these impacts have been mitigated and minimised.

We continue to work with landholders, regional communities and the relevant authorities, including the Country Fire Authority (CFA) to respond to the community’s concerns about firefighting impacts.

Further resources include:

About the project

The Western Renewables Link is a proposed electricity transmission line that will carry renewable energy from western Victoria to homes and businesses across the state and into the National Electricity Market.

The project is critical infrastructure required to unlock the renewable energy potential of western Victoria as a key Renewable Energy Zone and will help to deliver clean and affordable energy to all Victorians.

Project updates

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