5 February 2020
This summer the damage from bushfires has been unprecedented, with devastating effects on communities. It is helpful to know some safety tips and other assistance that's available for those who have been affected by bushfires.
Do you live in a bushfire-affected area?
Many areas have been affected and there have been outages due to power lines and other infrastructure failure. Energy distributors are working hard to get those affected back on supply, including rebuilding large sections of the network in some areas.
Energy distributors are also looking at new technology and ways to ensure replacement power poles and other assets are more fire-proof.
Energy distributors conduct regular safety audits and patrols to check for hazards, including aerial and on-the-ground patrols, and will continue to do so.
Sometimes your energy distributor may need to turn off the power in an area for safety reasons, for example to prevent a fire starting from flying debris, to prevent trees from coming into contact with a power line, or because a fire is already in the area.
If you live in an area affected by bushfires, here are some tips to help you to remain safe.
- Call your energy distributor if you see tree branches hanging over your power lines or another safety issue (see our Who is my energy distributor? FAQ page if you're unsure who your distributor is).
- Let your energy distributor know if you have a backup generator installed.
- Turn off the main power switches in your meter box if you need to evacuate due to a bushfire.
- Always engage a qualified professional for tree trimming near power lines.
- Always remain at least 8 metres from any fallen powerlines and call 000 to report the situation.
- Sign up for outage alerts from your distributor via SMS.
- Attempt to control fires near energised power lines.
- Approach power lines that have fallen or are sagging.
- Plant trees near or underneath power lines.
- Stockpile, windrow or heap combustible material under high voltage power lines.
Other assistance available to you
Bushfires can have a devastating impact on property and livelihoods. Assistance is available to those who have been affected.
If you have been affected by bushfires call your energy retailer as early as possible (your energy retailer is the company that issues you your energy bill). Hardship protections are available to you (see our Having trouble paying your energy bill? page for more information).
In addition to the usual hardship protections, a number of additional, bushfire-related measures are in place through retailers and network businesses, including:
- backdating meter readings for houses that have been destroyed by fire
- waiving network charges (the daily supply charge on your bill) for those who have been without power for more than 7 consecutive days
- the offering of financial assistance by some retailers to registered volunteer firefighters.
Remember, the best thing is to be prepared. The fire or emergency services agency in your state or territory has more information on how to prepare for a bushfire:
- Australian Capital Territory – ACT Emergency Services Agency
- New South Wales – NSW Rural Fire Service
- Northern Territory – SecureNT
- Queensland – Rural Fire Service
- South Australia – South Australian Country Fire Service
- Tasmania – Tasmania Fire Service
- Victoria – Country Fire Authority
- Western Australia – Department of Fire and Emergency Services.
For more information about available assistance, visit the Australian Government's National Bushfire Recovery Agency website.