Australia — Mt Buller Fire Tower has received a new look with uPVC windows. MtBuller Fire Tower is a pyramid shaped structure, built in the late 60s and isone of 67 fire towers the Victorian Department of Sustainability and Environment(DSE) use to spot the beginnings of a bush fire during the summer.
According to Fire Services, two key features were necessary for the windows;double glazing for insulation, and windows on an angle to reduce reflections,and to fit the pyramid shaped building.
The tower has to deal with intense summer and winter temperatures found in thealpine region; from minus 10 in winter to 40 degrees plus in summer.
As the windows provide a 360 degree view, the corners had to be as narrow aspossible, to allow maximum visibility, 25mm of a corner frame can mean visiblyblocking out 2-3 kms of view in the distance.
uPVC double-glazed windows were the solution to the problem according toEverglaze. who supplied and installed the windows.
According to Everglaze, after many years in a high weather area at the peakof a mountain, the original steel window frames were rusted and falling away.The longevity required for the towers and the relatively remote location meansuPVC windows were also attractive because they are tough and durable, do notrot, and do not require painting overtime.
uPVC (unplasticised PVC) window frames are also non-conductive, meaning they donot transfer heat and therefore will not influence the internal temperature of abuilding.
Mt Buller Fire Towers unusual shape structure meant that the windows, likeseveral uPVC windows in Australia, were custom made. When required, the windowscan be opened outwards and up so the firespotters can get a clear view.
According to Everglaze, the frames and glass had to be carted up manually andthe new steel roof had to be put in position by a helicopter.
The fire towers are manned in the daylight hours, usually 10am, 6pm but thiswill often be extended in the event of a lightning storm.
For 4-5 months over the summer fires potters sit in the towers watching forsmoke indicating the beginning of a bush fire. A piece of string hangs down themiddle of the tower and when smoke is visible the fire spotter lines up thestring with the smoke and notes the corresponding position on a scale on thefire tower inner wall. When this is done from two fire towers a location can beestablished, allowing DSE fire-fighters to go and put it out before it becomes abig problem.
During lighting storms, in addition to looking for smoke, the lookers also get aposition on each lightning strike and a DSE ground or helicopter crew is sentout in the next day or so to find and extinguish any smouldering fires.