Bushfire Shelters for Victorian Schools to feature at Emergency Management Conference


23 May 2013 - Cormac Farrell, an environmental scientist and bushfire planning specialist with Aurecon will be speaking at an international disaster management conference this month. He will be presenting the outcomes of one of the largest bushfire protection projects ever undertaken within Australia, which covered enhanced shelters for Victorian schools.

The bushfires that swept across Victoria in February 2009 caused immense devastation and loss, including the complete destruction of one school and severe damage to one more. Following the bushfires, Aurecon was engaged by the Department of Education and Early Childhood Development to design and build enhanced “Shelters in Place” to protect students and staff prior to evacuation. The project covered all schools in bushfire risk zones, and shelters were installed or upgraded at 220 schools in total.

“We have an obligation to protect our communities, using the latest in science and engineering to improve the safety of critical public infrastructure,” Cormac commented. The project used a multi-disciplinary approach that resulted in new bushfire protection approaches.

In particular, a way of applying existing bushfire protection standards to each school was developed in consultation with the Department and school principals. This included a unique scoring system for school shelter options was developed by Aurecon’s fire engineering teams.

The key outcomes for the project included:

  • Enhanced bushfire protection for over 220 Victorian schools
  • Identified the most common upgrades required for the buildings
  • The post-works defect rate, which is of critical importance for future planning
  • Customised designs for each school, which included assessment of emergency access, environmental and heritage values

The Emergency Management Conference will focus on improving our capacity to respond to natural disasters, and includes conference streams dealing with risk management, social media, emergency response and recovery following disasters.

The Victorian Schools Bushfire Protection Project
Presented by: Cormac Farrell
Thursday 30 May 2013
Session time: 9:00 – 10:30 am

Earth: Fire and Rain - The Australian and New Zealand Disaster and Emergency Management Conference will be held in Brisbane from 28 - 30 May 2013.

Cormac FarrellAbout Cormac
Cormac Farrell is a senior environmental scientist with Aurecon. He specialises in both the vegetation management and building protection aspects of bushfire management. This includes the detailed ecological assessment and design of Asset Protection Zones.

He has delivered major bushfire protection projects for State and Federal Governments, and is certified in Bushfire Planning and Design (BAPD – D) through the Fire Protection Association of Australia. Cormac also has extensive experience in community consultation and has previously run major engagement programs focusing on rural and regional stakeholders.

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