Ausgrid’s bushfire safety program begins for 2020

Ausgrid
An Ausgrid bushfire helicopter

Ausgrid has started its annual bushfire safety program, assessing power poles and powerlines across Sydney, the Hunter and Central Coast for any issues or faults that could increase the risk of a bushfire in the warmer months.

Residents in parts of Sydney, the Central Coast and the Hunter may notice low flying helicopters as specialist crews begin annual aerial patrols to inspect the electricity network for any potential bushfire hazards. 

On the ground, crews are also contacting property owners who have private power poles on their land and completing inspections to ensure they address maintenance issues. 

Ausgrid chief operating officer Trevor Armstrong said this year’s bushfire safety program was more important than ever.

“No-one will forget the catastrophic fires which caused so much loss of life and property destruction over last summer which proved just how dangerous bushfires can be,” he said.

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“It is why Ausgrid has a comprehensive annual safety program in place to help protect the community and reduce the risks of bushfires. 

“Every year during the cooler months we carry out aerial inspections and private pole inspections across the network looking for and addressing any potential problems which could become a fire hazard.” 

Mr Armstrong said that the helicopter patrols provide the safest and most efficient way to inspect large and expansive high-voltage powerlines. 

“We will be using two helicopters, so we can finish the patrols by the end of July, before the start of the next bushfire season in September,” he said.

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“The helicopter crews will be using laser scanning equipment and taking high-resolution photographs to identify any hazards on our poles and wires and trees growing too close to powerlines.”

Crews will be in the air from about 7.30am to 5.30pm (weather permitting) and property owners may want to consider securing livestock during the patrols. 

“The helicopters fly between 25 and 40 kilometres per hour and have been modified to allow for the quietest possible operation, but they may fly low at times, which can startle livestock in rural areas,” Mr Armstrong said. 

Private power pole inspections on the ground are also underway and Ausgrid is encouraging property owners to help do their part in ensuring poles on their property are safe and clear of any tree branches or vegetation which could spark a fire.