Coonabarabran Fires – Case Study Recovery of the Siding Spring Observatory
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Coonabarabran Fires Case Study Recovery of the Siding Spring Observatory
Coonabarabran Fires Case Study Recovery of the Siding Spring ObservatoryMary Ann Ryan, Assistant Director Business Continuity
Tuesday 6 August 2013
1Coonabarabran Fires 2013Case Study of the Recovery of the Siding Spring Observatory2Australian Astronomical Observatory (AAO)
The Anglo-Australian Telescope under the Milky Way Galaxy (credit: James Gilbert)3Preparation PhaseBusiness continuity plans in place and tested.Key AAO staff at Siding Spring are trained as fire wardens and in bushfire preparedness and are members of the Siding Spring Branch of the NSW Rural Fire Service.Modern fire truck on site.Observance of the Land Management and Building Management Programs at Siding Spring Observatory.Annual and programmed maintenance of building infrastructure.
4Preparation Phase continuedRegular Safety Committee meetings held with all stakeholders.Extensive fire preparation works.Testing of evacuation procedures conducted .Close relationship with the NSW Rural Fire Service and ANU.Updated contact lists for staff, stakeholder and suppliers
AAO Staff driving towards the Observatory at 15:30. A tourist driving up in front of them!6The fire in the National Park, seven km away at around 16:00
7The fire is now on top of them as the staff and the Astronomers leave.
8Bush Fire Safer Place sign posted, directing people into the building.
9Driving off the mountain, heading into the fire front!
This photo was taken by the first car to evacuate the mountain. Others followed approx. 10min later.A very close shave for those on the mountain.10After evacuation
AAT Dome and surrounds with fire approaching 13th Jan 2013. Photo: NSW Rural Fire ServiceUK Schmidt Telescope on the right. Photo: NSW Rural Fire Service11Outcome- minimal damageThis can be attributed to:Incorporation of lessons learnt from the damage caused to Mount Stromlo during the 2003 Canberra Bushfires.AAO/ANU business continuity plans in place and worked well. Anti-fire measures contained in the telescope including fire retardant paint, fire safe screens etc.Clearing areas in and around the telescopes on a regular basis and back burning undertaken in conjunction with the Rural Fire ServiceEarly evacuation of the siteFantastic work of the RFS and luck!
12After the fire
UK Schmidt Telescope Photo: NSW Rural Fire ServiceAATPhoto: NSW Rural Fire Service13Clean upan environmental assessment of the Siding Spring Observatory site e.g. asbestosresidual hazards that affect the safety of the site, including the danger of falling trees, land-slips and potentially hazardous materials. repairs to the roads, power, water and sewage.insurance loss assessors inspect the site, complete essential cleaning and repairs,assessing the telescopes, instruments and systemsstaff support and counselling14Positive OutcomeThe following comment from visiting observer, Professor Tom Shanks from Durham University, who was evacuated from the telescopes as the fire front approached, is testament to the AAOs state of readiness:
Photo taken by Tom Shanks leaving SSO Sun 13 Jan 2013Can't praise enough the ANU and AAO staff whose prompt and decisive action got us evacuated away from the danger of the bushfire in good timegave clear instructions about the danger of fire .. made sure that all our mobile phone numbers were recorded so that we were easily contactable in an emergencyWhen the evacuation came it was done in a very orderly fashion with no panic.. all safety procedures were closely followed at the telescopethe fact there were no lives lost is wholly due to the professionalism of all ANU and AAO staff.
15SummaryThe Head of AAO was acting in the positionBusiness as usual was minimally affected due to the ability to use the telescope remotelySocial media was used to keep stakeholders and interested parties updatedThe reputation of the AAO was enhanced by the well executed evacuation and quick resumption of business16QUESTIONS??????17DEPARTMENT OF INDUSTRY, INNOVATION, CLIMATE CHANGE, SCIENCE, RESEARCH AND TERTIARY EDUCATION
Industry House10 Binara StreetCanberra City, ACT 2601, AustraliaTelephone +61 2 6213 6000Mary Ann RyanAssistant DirectorBusiness ContinuityCorporate DivisionContact NumbersWork: 02 6213 7775Mobile: 0427 433 43218