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Coonabarabran Fires – Case Study Recovery of the Siding Spring Observatory Mary Ann Ryan, Assistant Director Business Continuity Tuesday 6 August 2013.

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Presentation on theme: "Coonabarabran Fires – Case Study Recovery of the Siding Spring Observatory Mary Ann Ryan, Assistant Director Business Continuity Tuesday 6 August 2013."— Presentation transcript:

1 Coonabarabran Fires – Case Study Recovery of the Siding Spring Observatory Mary Ann Ryan, Assistant Director Business Continuity Tuesday 6 August 2013

2 Coonabarabran Fires 2013 Case Study of the Recovery of the Siding Spring Observatory

3 Australian Astronomical Observatory (AAO) The Anglo-Australian Telescope under the Milky Way Galaxy (credit: James Gilbert)

4 Preparation Phase Business 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.

5 Preparation Phase continued Regular 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

6 AAO Staff driving towards the Observatory at 15:30. A tourist driving up in front of them!

7 The fire in the National Park, seven km away at around 16:00

8 The fire is now on top of them as the staff and the Astronomers leave.

9 Bush Fire Safer Place sign posted, directing people into the building.

10 Driving 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.

11 After evacuation AAT Dome and surrounds with fire approaching 13th Jan Photo: NSW Rural Fire Service UK Schmidt Telescope on the right. Photo: NSW Rural Fire Service

12 Outcome- minimal damage This 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 Service  Early evacuation of the site  Fantastic work of the RFS and luck!

13 After the fire UK Schmidt Telescope Photo: NSW Rural Fire Service AAT Photo: NSW Rural Fire Service

14 Clean up  an environmental assessment of the Siding Spring Observatory site e.g. asbestos  residual 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 systems  staff support and counselling

15 Positive Outcome The 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 AAO’s state of readiness: Photo taken by Tom Shanks leaving SSO Sun 13 Jan 2013 “Can'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 time…gave 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 emergency…When the evacuation came it was done in a very orderly fashion with no panic.. all safety procedures were closely followed at the telescope…the fact there were no lives lost is wholly due to the professionalism of all ANU and AAO staff.”

16 Summary The Head of AAO was acting in the position Business as usual was minimally affected due to the ability to use the telescope remotely Social media was used to keep stakeholders and interested parties updated The reputation of the AAO was enhanced by the well executed evacuation and quick resumption of business

17 QUESTIONS??????

18 DEPARTMENT OF INDUSTRY, INNOVATION, CLIMATE CHANGE, SCIENCE, RESEARCH AND TERTIARY EDUCATION Industry House 10 Binara Street Canberra City, ACT 2601, Australia Telephone Mary Ann Ryan Assistant Director Business Continuity Corporate Division Contact Numbers Work: Mobile:


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