Emergency exercise at Challicum Hills

Emergency services gather at the Pacific Hydro Wind Farm at Challicum Hills, Buangor.ARARAT – Dozens of emergency services flocked to the Pacific Hydro Wind Farm at Challicum Hills, Buangor to perform a rescue.
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There was no cause for concern, however, as the operation was a mock exercise set up to test the effectiveness of plans and response to an incident at height within a wind turbine generator.

About 35 members from the Ararat Police, Ararat and Ballarat Country Fire Authority and Ambulance Victoria, Ararat Rural City Council and observers from other local government agencies were involved in the operation.

Regional Emergency Management Inspector for the Grampians region Matt Wood said the mock rescue ran very smoothly.

“What we did was we role played a 75 kilogram dummy as one of the workers from the wind farm and he was at the nacelle of the wind tower and fell over hit his head and was unconscious,” he said.

Police and Ambulance officers were the first to respond to the situation, with paramedics ascending the wind tower, 68 metres high, to assess the ‘patient’.

“After assessing him they concluded that it had to be a high angle rescue extraction and that is when the CFA High Angle Rescue team from Ballarat attended and put the dummy into a litter and abseiled him down the inside of the tower,” Mr Wood said.

“The best and most effective method for that wind tower is lowering him down what is called a crane shoot on the inside.”

There were four objectives of the rescue operation:

To test the Pacific Hydro Australia employees’ knowledge of and adherence to the Pacific Hydro Emergency Response Plan.

To test the participants in a practical emergency response scenario.

To evaluate the effectiveness of cooperation between responding agencies.

To assess any identified gaps or deficits in training or equipment required.

“The idea is that it is an identified risk within our Municipal Emergency Management Plan, so you exercise the risks to work out whether those planned outcomes can be achieved,” Mr Wood said.

“There were some very minor things to pop up out of it which were mostly administrative and organisational areas, but all the emergency services worked really well together and co-operated.”

The entire operation took about two and a half hours to complete, which Mr Wood said was a bit longer than expected.

“It ran a bit longer than anticipated, but it was the first one that we have had and the agencies had to work out what equipment to take up to treat the patient and to retrieve him, so I thought it worked very well in the time frame,” he said.

“Now they’ve got some experience in the makeup of the towers and how to ascend and descend I think they could shave some more time off.”

The Challicum Hill Wind Farm was one of the first of its kind built in Victoria and as such to move up and down the towers requires navigating several ladders.

Mr Wood said turbines at the more recently built Waubra wind farm, north-west of Ballarat, have lifts built into the structure, which would make rescue operations much simpler.

With wind farms becoming more frequent in the district, Mr Wood said operations similar to this will become part of regular training.

“The community can be reassured that we are identifying the risks to the community and we are exercising them so that we’ve got an adequate response plan,” he said.

“All involved said it was very worth while and they now understand the complexities of getting an injured person out of the top of the wind farm and really appreciate how the agencies worked co-operatively together to assist.”

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Farm shed fiasco

Ararat Rural City Council’s municipal building surveyor has reported that possible changes to the Building Practice Notes will add considerably to the cost of development on farms and place increased burdens on the farming community.ARARAT – Ararat Rural City Council’s municipal building surveyor has reported that possible changes to the Building Practice Notes, which indicate that in future toilets and disabled access will need to be installed in new farm sheds, will add considerably to the cost of development on farms and place increased burdens on the farming community.
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Municipal building surveyor Neil Povey attended a Building Commission seminar, where the draft Building Practice Notes were presented. The Building Code of Australia is updated annually in May and the seminars are to inform building practitioners on upcoming requirements.

Mr Povey said different types of sheds are treated differently in the Planning Scheme. A planning and building permit is required for a shed to store equipment and goods including motor vehicles, and must be associated with a dwelling, whereas a shed for storing farm produce or goods is treated separately, and doesn’t require a building permit in most circumstances.

Council has exempted these farm sheds from building permits in the past, but in the future, as a result of the practice notes, farm buildings other than small hay sheds and small machinery sheds (size not defined) will be classified a factories (Class 8) and building permits will be required to be approved before construction commences. By being classified as Class 8, essential services requirements such as toilets and disabled access will need to be installed, and this will have considerable cost implications.

“I am of the opinion that there are very few instances when these essential services/disabled facilities are warranted for typical farm buildings, and this is further reinforced by the history of few if any risk incidents associated with most of these buildings and their occupants,” Mr Povey said.

“These regulatory requirements will cause expensive additional costs for the preparation of these documents, and will significantly increase the building permit fee costs in line with commercial building development rates. Approval time delays will result, and in our case sourcing alternative solutions/exemptions will be a major issue, as I am not aware of anyone in this region who has the skills required to prepare suitable submissions. Such documentation could cost up to $1000 per solution, and there could be several alternative solutions required per permit.

“There are obviously some instances when some levels of ESM’s are justified, and this generally is when the development involves the employment of staff. However in the instances of dairies, large haysheds, piggeries etcetera, workforce involvement is minimal if nonexistent for most of the time, and the exemption process is simply another financial impediment on the rural sector.

“I am of the opinion that either separate classifications or regulations should be incorporated for various farms buildings, or a Minister’s Direction or similar should be able to be issued by the commission (as exists in South Australia) which provides legal exemption from irrelevant regulatory requirements.”

Cr Gwenda Allgood said this issue astounded her.

“These farmers are doing it tough and I haven’t met a farmer yet that isn’t very conscious about everybody getting access to their shearing shed,” she said.

“This exemption needs to be provided on an individual case basis and these to be prepared by accredited access consultants by which there is no one in this region. Where do you bring them from? This is just absolutely going over the top, I don’t understand where these people are coming from.

“The documentation for a start is going to cost a thousand dollars and there could be several alternative solutions required for a permit.

“Who’s going to build any sort of a shed? If you’ve got horses, look out, you’re going to have to have a disabled toilet.

“The mind absolutely boggles as to where these people are coming from. I’m sure if they came out and drove around the country side and had a bit of a look at how we look after each other they would realise that these things are absolutely ludicrous, how could somebody come up with this?

“It’s really serious and you have got to stand up here nearly every meeting and fight these things. If you don’t fight them they go though to the keeper and you have to put up with them.

“It’s just ridiculous.”

Cr Anne Marshall said sometimes toilets were required for shearing sheds, and probably some of the very modern shearing sheds would have them.

“But I think that disabled access for that industry, which requires really able bodied people to do the work, is a bit far fetched and I really hope that I don’t have to put a toilet in the next hay shed we build,” she said.

“I think if you’ve got some type of factory type process in these sheds, well, yes… but for most farm sheds it is certainly not a requirement.”

CEO Andrew Evans said the requirements would not be retrospective.

Mr Evans said that while the requirements were only in draft stage at the moment it was expected for them to be implemented.

Council agreed to write to the Building Commission, Victorian Farmers Federation, Member for Western Victoria Simon Ramsay, the MAV, all State Local Members – including Members for Lowan and Ripon, Hugh Delahunty and Joe Helper – and other appropriate bodies highlighting the issue.

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Ararat Lions uphold motto of serving community

The Lions Club are well known for their catering, with Bill Metcalfe and Mick Watson pictured hard at work.ARARAT – The Lions Club of Ararat will celebrate its 40th anniversary in June.
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The club officially received its charter in June, 1972 and was founded by 21 men including the still active John Dunn. The club was originally exclusive to males but over the years this has changed and women can now be a part of the Lions Club.

Some of the longest serving members of the Club are John Dunn who has been serving for 40 years, and Les Clark and Eric Wilson who have each served for 37 years.

The first Lions Club was formed in the United States in 1917, with the idea of a world group dedicated to the service of humanity. Nearly 100 years on the club is now the largest humanitarian club in the world with clubs in 197 countries.

The first club in Australia was formed in Lismore New South Wales and by 1976 there were 1000 clubs around Australia. As of March 31 2006 there were 1473 clubs with 31,056 members Australia wide.

The Lions Club of Ararat was called upon early in its life to fund raise for large appeals.

In 1974 Cyclone Tracy devastated Darwin and after a quick whip around the local pubs, the club was able to send $2000 to the people left suffering in the wake of Cyclone Tracy’s path and later would raise another $10,000 for the appeal.

As well as raising money for many organisations in the early days, the Lions Club have also assisted in the clean up of the 1976 Streatham bushfire as well as the Avoca/Maryborough fires in 1985 and provided a significant donation towards the Ararat and Stawell Fire Appeals.

Over the years thousands of dollars have been spent on facilities at the increasingly popular Green Hill Lake.

The Lions Club was involved in the development of the blue stone barbecue area well as the boat shed.

During the days when the Aradale asylum was in operation, members of the Lions Club would visit the institution monthly, handing out lollies and cigarettes, which were eagerly awaited by the patients.

One way the Lions raised funds in the past was through collecting rags, but in 1982 its Project Shed was burnt, along with bales of rags worth several hundred dollars. The Lions Train and catering equipment were also lost, but the Apex Club kindly offered to share its shed with the Lions, later handing the lease of the shed over to the lions when it disbanded.

Most significantly, the Lions Club of Ararat has helped raise well over $100,000 dollars for the Ararat Hospital over the last 40 years as well as donated a portable x-ray machine, helped finance the hospital intensive care ward and sponsored a two bed ward for the hospital. The first item they donated to the hospital was a TV to the children’s ward all those years ago and in those days any equipment donated was matched three to one by government grants.

The former Pickford House, the Patricia Hinchey Day Centre and Ararat Retirement Village have also been beneficiaries of donations from the Lions.

Fund raising for the provision of hearing dogs as well as walking frames for young locals Tania Moss and Jared Gibson were big projects taken on by the Lions members.

The State Emergency Service, St John’s First Aid, Ararat Ambulance and the Ararat Eisteddfod have all been assisted over the years by Lions, while just a few weeks ago the Lions donated $1000 to the AusKick program.

In recent years catering has become the main source of income for the club, including catering for Australia Day breakfasts, Moyston Boxing Day Sports, the Ararat Jailhouse Rock Festival as well as many other events.

The Club holds weekly sausage sizzles using its barbecue trailer, known as the Purple People Feeder, which can be seen on site at Ahpee’s Lane each Saturday morning, raising money for community needs and worthy projects.

Forty years ago the Lions Club was told by an upstanding member of the community at the time that it would not last, but 40 years on it remains as strong as ever. With 34 members still in the club, attending bi-monthly meetings to discuss ways in which they can help the community of Ararat and holding true to their motto ‘We Serve’, the Lions Club has truly proven that it does indeed serve the community of Ararat.

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$15,000 in goods taken in Wendouree robbery

AN engagement ring belonging to a man’s dead wife was among $15,000 worth of goods stolen during a burglary in Wendouree, a court has heard.
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The thieves used a sledgehammer to smash open the victim’s safe, taking items including jewellery, passports and $7000 in cash.

Chantel Blazevicius, 32, yesterday appeared in Ballarat Magistrates Court over her role as a driver in the heist.

Magistrate Michelle Hodgson said it was “clearly a planned and professional operation”.

The court heard that Blazevicius drove three men to a Wendouree property on the afternoon of August 3 last year, dropping two of them out the front.

The men allegedly entered the back of the victim’s home, searching for a safe they’d received a tip-off about.

On finding the safe they returned to the car for a sledgehammer and then went back to the house.

Allegedly, they also took items including laptops, cameras, watches and other small electrical items.

Police prosecutor Sergeant Bob Anderson said police later went to a Wendouree property after seeing Blazevicius’s car parked out the front.

But the officers were refused entry and had to wait to apply for a warrant. Smoke was seen coming from the backyard.

When the warrant arrived, police managed to recover many of the stolen items, including gold rings that had been flushed down a toilet and the charred remains of jewellery that had been burned in the backyard.

A laptop and more jewellery were found inside the house.

Defence lawyer Scott Belcher admitted his client had made a poor choice of friends, but he said she was no longer associating with them.

“My client instructs she was off track and out of control at that stage,” Mr Belcher said.

“We would concede it’s outrageous offending behaviour.”

Ms Hodgson adjourned sentencing to August 20 to enable assessment for a community corrections order.

“However, I haven’t excluded the possibility of a jail sentence,” she told Blazevicius.

“One of the most serious offences this court deals with is residential burglaries.

“It’s such an invasion of people’s privacy and their lives, and in this instance it was targeted.”

Blazevicius pleaded guilty to five charges including burglary, theft and handling stolen goods.

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