Wire rope barriers Roadside vegetation Fuel reduction

Rope barriers increase freeway fuel loads

25 February 2021

Member for Euroa and Nationals deputy leader Steph Ryan has slammed the Andrews Labor Government for letting fuel loads increase on the Hume Freeway, describing long grass as “a disaster waiting to happen”.

Ms Ryan joined Boho CFA brigade captain Gary Washusen this morning to call on the Andrews Government to take immediate action to address the fire risk. 

It comes after Ms Ryan told Parliament earlier this month that the government had failed to protect communities this season, with the placement of wire rope barriers clearly impeding slashing efforts.

“I am deeply concerned about the Andrews Government’s failure to slash grass along the Hume Freeway this season,” Ms Ryan said.

“Wire rope barriers have impeded the government’s slashing efforts and there is a very real risk of a grassfire as a result.

“In some places along the Hume, the grass is so high that you can barely see the wire rope barriers.

“Local brigades have contacted me deeply concerned by the danger this presents not only to local communities, but also for first responders, whose safety is put a risk by the placement of wire rope barriers.”

Mr Washusen wrote to VicRoads in January to convey his concerns, however he has not yet received a response.

Without a change in approach, Mr Washusen said he feared it was “just a matter of time” before the state has a repeat of Black Saturday. 

“While the freeway carriageways make a significant fire break, the fine fuel in the form of grass ignites very quickly and will develop into a serious fire during high fire risk days,” Mr Washusen said.

“The Hume Freeway in many areas borders a lot of hilly country and a fire escaping the freeway reserve has potential to impact the Strathbogie Ranges and Black Saturday is a reminder of how devastating that could be.”

Mr Washusen said the machines used by VicRoads to slash the freeway left a lot of long grass standing around the cable barrier posts. 

“Where there are no trees, these machines are very effective but where there are trees, a lot of grass is left standing,” Mr Washusen said. 

“The cable barriers often restrict access for the equipment and then when a limb or tree falls over, its often impossible for the mowers to get in. 

“The fear is one day there will be a bad fire and somebody will have an accident in the smoke and block the freeway. Cars and trucks unable to turnaround will queue up and people will be incinerated. It’s that simple.”

Photo caption: Member for Euroa and Nationals deputy leader Steph Ryan with Boho CFA brigade member Kerry Davis and captain Gary Washusen.

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