The Inspector-General for Emergency Management (IGEM, Tony Pearce) will conduct a review of last month’s fire at the SKM Recycling Plant in Coolaroo.
The Coolaroo fire broke out on 13 July and burned for 11 days, sending clouds of smoke across Melbourne. At the height of the blaze, hundreds of nearby residents were urged to evacuate due to concerns about air quality.
Lessons learned out of the 2014 Hazelwood Mine fire played a key role in handling the Coolaroo fire. Emergency workers used health monitoring data to make decisions about how harmful smoke and ash would be for locals, and people in the area had online access to air quality readings via the Environmental Protection Agency website.
This latest review is an important opportunity to confirm that emergency services are working hard to do everything it can to respond to similar events.
IGEM will work closely with relevant agencies and examine key aspects of the fire including the effectiveness of the State Smoke Framework, air quality monitoring, firefighter occupational health and safety, and the Environmental Protection Authority’s processes.
The IGEM will also work closely with Emergency Management Victoria, which is undertaking a separate but complementary operational review into the incident.
A joint government taskforce is also auditing recycling facilities to prioritise sites that require action to better protect the community.
The IGEM will deliver the report to government by the end of November 2017.