Bush schools to close on fire-threat days

Bush schools to close on fire-threat days

4 November 2009

published by www.borderwatch.com.au

Australia — State schools and kindergartens in high fire risk areas will now be closed on days forecast as “Code Red” fire danger weather, under the State Government’s new bushfire procedures.

A statewide audit by the Country Fire Service recently identified 140 educational facilities believed to be at high, very high or extreme fire risk on days of forecast catastrophic fire weather. 

Across the South East, primary schools and child parent centres at Beachport, Kalangadoo, Kongorong, Rendelsham, Glenburnie and Salt Creek were identified as high risk.

Kangaroo Inn Area School, Kingston Community School, Glencoe District Kindergarten, Raukkan Aboriginal School and Naracoorte High School will also be closed on Code Red fire danger days.

The changes will take effect over the coming month.

Education Minister Jane Lomax-Smith last week announced South Australian schools would be adopting the same procedures applied in Victoria, as part of the new “prepare.act.survive” campaign.

Ms Lomax-Smith said the safety of children, teachers and staff was paramount.

“Since the Port Lincoln bushfires we’ve been working with the CFS to better prepare our schools with fire-fighting water and fire hardened buildings,” she said.

“We require all schools in bushfire-prone areas have Bushfire Survival Actions Plans and audit their preparedness ahead of each fire season.”

However, Ms Lomax-Smith said the destruction of six schools and preschools in this year’s Victorian bushfires had led the State Government to re-establish its protection of students and staff during “catastrophic” conditions.

“Fires that start on a catastrophic day are likely to be fast moving and uncontrollable … the department has developed the (school closure) policy to minimise risk to children, staff and parents,” she said.

“School bus services travelling through affected areas will also be cancelled.

“Parents will be advised of closure due to catastrophic fire danger the day before and will need to make alternative arrangements for their children; special arrangements will be made for senior secondary students should school closures coincide with SACE exams.”

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