Accredited fire bunkers to be unveiled

Accredited fire bunkers to be unveiled

10 March 2010

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Australia —  The bunker, developed by Melbourne-based company Wildfire Safety Bunkers, will be officially launched tomorrow at the company’s Somerville factory.

One of the company’s two directors, Anthony Tratt, said the concrete bunkers could accommodate six people with enough oxygen for one hour. peMr Tratt said the company had spent the past four months carrying out rigorous testing on the bunkers, in conjunction with the CSIRO and the Country Fire Authority, to ensure its product met the regulations.

He said the company had a “substantial” amount of orders waiting to be filled.

“We’ve got a lot of customers just sitting back waiting for this accreditation to go through,” Mr Tratt said.

However, Mr Tratt emphasised bunkers were still a last resort in a bushfire.

“They are a last resort, there’s no question of that,” Mr Tratt said.

“We’ve always made sure we’ve pointed that out to people.

“There’s an operation manual that the owners must sign off on that they completely understand why they’ve bought it, how it works and where it must be located.”

Mr Tratt said the location of the bunker would determine how safely people could shelter in it and for how long.

“You don’t have them right next to a house, you have them well away from the house.”

Mr Tratt said people could shelter in the bunker for longer than one hour because ventilation shafts could be opened from the inside after the fire front had passed.

“Smoke will enter into the bunker but there won’t be a lot of it. If you’ve got the proper breathing mask, you’ll be safe in that bunker for a lot longer.

“It’s a combination of personal protection gear, and the bunker.”

A spokeswoman for the Building Commission confirmed it was the first bunker to be accredited under the interim guidelines.

Planning Minister Justin Madden introduced the interim regulations and accreditation process last November.

The Victorian Bushfires Royal Commission has called for new national guidelines for bushfire bunkers to be ready in April.

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