Media Releases

Media releases from the Office of Susan Templeman MP.

Enquiries from the media should be directed to the Media Adviser via the Electorate Office on (02) 4573 8222 or via email to [email protected]

FIRE BRIGADE FORCED TO TURN DOWN CALL FOR HELP

September 11, 2019

Bilpin Rural Fire Brigade was forced to turn down a request for help because it was unable to contact volunteers during a power outage which cut off all mobile, landline and internet communications to the local area.

Member for Macquarie, Susan Templeman, has supported the Brigade’s call for the Bilpin Telstra tower’s backup batteries to be urgently replaced or supplemented by a generator.

“While fires burnt just across the Mountains, they lost power, they lost internet and they lost phone coverage,” Ms Templeman said. “In the early hours of the morning, backup batteries for the mobile phone tower died.

“That meant residents in the towns of Bilpin, Mt Lagoon, Berambing and Mount Tomah were unable to receive fire and storm alerts via the SMS alert system and had no emergency SOS function to contact emergency services for close to 14 hours.

“The local fire brigade had to turn down a request to send volunteers to support the fire-fighting efforts in northern NSW because it couldn’t contact its volunteers.

“That is a completely unacceptable situation for a community, which in 2013 had to deal with the impact of fire, isolation and extensive power outages as a result of the State Mine fire.

“This issue of back up battery failure was first raised with me in 2016 and following representations I made to Telstra, we were advised the backup battery had been replaced.

“It’s clear that battery backup is insufficient for areas like Bilpin, where there is only one tower that provides a vital service.

“All residents and local emergency services in bushfire prone areas must have reliable means of communications.

“Earlier this year, I met with Bilpin residents who were concerned about the impact of the NBN rollout, which leaves the community with access to either fixed wireless or satellite communication.

“Among other things, they were concerned about the reliability of services in an emergency.

“This latest situation will not have done anything to ease their fears,” she said.

Speaking in Parliament, Ms Templeman supported the Bilpin Fire Brigade’s plea for backup batteries to be ‘immediately replaced with a generator, before a fatality occurs.’

“It isn’t good enough. The backup batteries at the Telstra tower in Bilpin need to be immediately augmented with a generator before it contributes to a fatality,” she said.

“Throughout my electorate we need better mobile coverage. Some places don’t have any.”

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