CFA to ‘map’ gaps in wire rope barriers in response to brigade safety concerns

THE CFA will carry out “detailed mapping” of wire rope barriers to help volunteers find gaps when responding to emergencies.

In a statement on Monday, the CFA reaffirmed its support of the rollout of the barriers on 20 dangerous roads in country Victoria, including the Calder Highway from Melbourne to Bendigo.

Mapping will display the location of access breaks, emergency crossover points and interchanges, and will be compatible with Triple-0 systems.

VicRoads will also develop training material for CFA volunteers.

Chief executives from VicRoads and the CFA met with brigades last week to “address remaining concerns”.

CFA chief officer Steve Warrington said they would continue to work with VicRoads as the wire barrier rollout continued.

“We are also talking to other agencies across the sector to iron out any issues or concerns,” he said.

“We are all on board for any measure that will see less people hurt on Victorian roads. Many of our people, as first responders know the devastation of road trauma.”

Workers install the barriers on the Calder Highway at Ravenswood South. Picture: ADAM HOLMES

Workers install the barriers on the Calder Highway at Ravenswood South. Picture: ADAM HOLMES

A number of CFA captains from brigades along the Calder Highway – including Elphinstone, Harcourt and Kyneton – raised concerns last year about the barriers blocking access to fires and other emergency incidents.

Elphinstone brigade captain Andy Chapman has been among the most vocal critics of the barrier rollout, and met with the CFA on Friday.

He said he was “extremely disappointed with the outcome” after seeing the CFA statement on Monday.

Last month Mr Chapman described the rollout as “just a mess”.

Brigades are required to park their tankers on the shoulder of the road, with concerns it places volunteers at risk from passing vehicles and slows the response to emergencies.

But CFA management claimed the barriers “help to prevent crashes” and would reduce the number of emergency callouts.

Road safety minister Luke Donnellan has reiterated on a number of occasions that there is “no evidence” that the barriers are unsafe, and has been critical of their opponents.

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