At Essential Energy, we regularly inspect powerlines to maintain fire safety clearances and power supply reliability as part of our comprehensive vegetation management program.
However, while tree trimming and pruning are a significant part of our maintenance program, they are only a short-term solution. The best idea is to avoid planting trees near powerlines entirely. Inappropriate species should not be planted directly under powerlines and sufficient distance must be allowed so they can grow to their full potential without becoming a safety concern.
If you see branches hanging over our powerlines, call us on 132080.
- Following a few simple steps can help to protect your property from fire:
- Identify potentially hazardous vegetation around your home and farm
- Planting trees a safe distance from powerlines. Visit essentialenergy.com.au/trees for advice on planting tree around our network
- Keep an eye on fire danger ratings on the Rural Fire Service website.
Consider the potential loss of electricity grid power in your bushfire plans.
- Know where your Neighbourhood Safer Place is.
- Have enough drinking water available for all household members for 24 hours. Power may remain on at your location, but electricity supply to municipal water supply pumps may be impacted.
- Keep a battery powered AM/FM radio with fresh batteries for news and emergency broadcasts.
- Ensure petrol or diesel water pumps have been tested and reticulation is serviceable. Test the operation of pumps and water reticulation before you need them.
- Ensure that you know how to bypass or manually operate electric gates, electric locks and garage doors. Turn off the power and practice when the weather is cool.
- Have a torch with fresh batteries readily available.
- Consider a portable petrol or diesel generator for critical loads such as refrigeration and medical devices you may be dependent on. If the generator is wired into the house wiring, ensure that this work is done by a licensed electrician. Unlicensed electrical work poses a risk to your safety and our workers.
We recommend that property owners also complete a Bushfire Survival Plan and Farm FireWise Checklist and Action Plan to reduce their bushfire risk. These documents are available on the NSW Rural Fire Service’s website at www.rfs.nsw.gov.au. Your Plan should include consideration of what to do if you have no power supply to your property.
On high risk days
- Make sure you know how to open your garage doors and gates manually if there is no power
- Familiarise yourself with your Bushfire Survival Plan
- Make sure you know who you are responsible for on your property
- Charge up mobile phones in advance in case you need to leave the premises in a hurry or you lose power
- Keep an eye on fire danger ratings and warnings on the Rural Fire Service website
- Be aware and stay clear of hazard trees which have the capacity to fall
- Stay clear when powerlines are near – hot weather and windy conditions can cause powerlines to sag and sway and reduce visibility.
During a bushfire
- If the fire is near powerlines, keep personnel, vehicles and attachments at least 25m from the powerline
- Remember, smoke can act as a conductor – fires burning on or near powerline easements can increase the chances of a flashover occurring
- Powerlines can sag lower in times of high demand, high temperature and fires which can reduce ground clearances
- During a bushfire, wooden poles and structures may fail, causing powerlines to fall. If you see fallen powerlines call us immediately on 132080.
Stay away from fallen or sagging powerlines
A bushfire can damage or destroy electrical infrastructure, causing powerlines to fall and disrupting the power supply. Remember to treat all fallen powerlines as live and keep at least eight metres away from any wires that appear to be damaged, sagging or have fallen to the ground, or any object they are in contact with including fences, water pipes and trees.
In the event of a bushfire, property owners who decide to leave their property are advised to do so early to minimise the risk of encountering fallen or sagging powerlines across roads and other fire hazards.
Emergency escape procedure - if your vehicle comes into contact with the electricity network (a fallen powerline or power pole):
- Remain in the vehicle, if safe to do so, and call 000 immediately
- If escape is absolutely necessary (because of fire), jump well clear to avoid contact with the vehicle and the ground at the same time
- When you jump, land with your feet together. Do not touch the vehicle, fall or allow your feet to step apart
- You must shuffle or jump, with your feet together until you are at least 8 metres clear of the vehicle, powerlines or anything else in contact with them
- Once clear, do not return to the vehicle for any reason
- Call Essential Energy on 132080
- Remember to never approach a vehicle to assist in an evacuation and always treat powerlines as if they are ‘live’.
After the bushfire
After a bushfire, Essential Energy will commence restoration work as safety allows. Before we commence work we patrol the line in question to ensure it is safe to start work and that the bushfire risk has passed. This can mean that restoration work takes longer than anticipated – but it is important to ensure the safety of our employees and the community.
- Be aware and stay clear of hazard trees - which have the capacity to fall
- Stay at least 8 metres clear of fallen powerlines – call 000 in an emergency, or alternatively 132080 to report the fallen powerlines and always assume they are alive
- Avoid the ash or smoke of any burnt or burning power poles, as the affected sections may contain hazardous substances
- Where a property has been damaged by fire the installation should be inspected by a qualified electrician and repairs carried out before contacting Essential Energy to have the power restored
- Do not plug in or use any appliances that have been fire affected until they have been checked by a qualified electrician - Call Essential Energy on 132080 before turning the power on if the structure has been inundated by fire.