GDF Suez planning for fire


As an employer, GDF Suez has a range of obligations under the Occupational Health and Safety Act 2004 (Vic) (OHS Act) and the Occupational Health and Safety Regulations 2007 (Vic) (OHS Regulations).

Chapter 3.2 Regulation of fire risk at the Hazelwood mine provides a detailed discussion of the occupational health and safety (OHS) regime. GDF Suez’s compliance with the OHS regime is discussed in Chapter 3.3 Fire prevention and mitigation measures taken by GDF Suez.

GDF Suez’s obligation to be prepared to respond to an outbreak of fire arises principally from its duty to:

  • provide and maintain a working environment for employees that is, so far as is reasonably practicable, safe and without risks to health51
  • ensure, so far as is reasonably practicable, that persons other than employees (including firefighters, visitors and members of surrounding communities) are not exposed to risks to their health or safety arising from the conduct of the undertaking of the employer.52

GDF Suez is also required to undertake a process of continuous improvement of its fire preparedness measures and to review, and if necessary, revise these measures following an incident.53


GDF Suez maintains a number of fire management policies and procedures, including the following:

  • Emergency Response Plan – Hazelwood Mine (revised May 2013)
  • Mine Fire Service Policy and Code of Practice (revised July 2013)
  • Hazelwood Mine Fire Instructions (issued 27 July 2011)
  • Internal Grass Slashing – Specification for Grass Mowing (issued 17 October 2011)
  • Hazelwood Mine Guidelines for Season and Period Specific Fire Preparedness and Mitigation Planning (issued 13 September 2007)
  • Check List for Fire Fighting Equipment Annual Inspection (issued 18 January 2013)
  • Check List for Season Specific Fire Preparedness and Mitigation Planning
    (issued 24 November 2008)
  • Check List for Hazelwood Slot Bunker Fire Services Wash Down & Routine Inspection
    (issued 18 January 2013)
  • Mine Fireman Assessment (issued 24 February 2012)
  • Fire Person Duties Training Manual (issued 23 August 2012)
  • GDF Suez Hazelwood Electricity Safety – Bushfire Mitigation Plan (for the period commencing 1 July 2013).54

While a number of these fire management policies and procedures include measures specifically directed to preparedness and response to fire, some also address measures designed to prevent fire and mitigate its spread and severity. These are discussed in detail in Chapter 3.3 Fire prevention and mitigation measures taken by GDF Suez.

The Emergency Response Plan – Hazelwood Mine (revised May 2013) (Emergency Response Plan) and the Hazelwood Mine Fire Instructions (issued 27 July 2011) (Mine Fire Instructions), are the principal plans relevant to a fire emergency at the Hazelwood mine.55

Relevantly, r. 5.3.34 of the OHS Regulations requires GDF Suez, as the operator of a ‘prescribed mine’, to prepare an emergency plan for the Hazelwood mine and use this plan as the primary means of responding to incidents involving a significant risk of serious injury or death.56 The emergency plan prepared in accordance with the OHS Regulations must address all aspects of emergency response, including:

  • ensuring that a system exists that enables all persons within the mine at any given time to be promptly located
  • providing adequate rescue equipment
  • ensuring that persons trained in the use of rescue equipment are available on site, or are on call, whenever any person is working at the mine.57

The emergency plan must also be prepared with the CFA. When the emergency plan addresses ‘major mining hazards’ that could detrimentally affect the health or safety of people in the area surrounding the mine, the Latrobe City Council must also be involved in its preparation.58 GDF Suez is required to provide a copy of the emergency plan to the CFA and to test the plan, jointly with the CFA, at least once a year to ensure its continued effectiveness.59

The Emergency Response Plan sets out guidelines for combatting major emergencies (including fire) and interfacing with external agencies such as the CFA. The Emergency Response Plan states that it complies with Emergency Management Act requirements, and is compatible with the State Emergency Response Plan.60

Mr Robert Dugan, GDF Suez Mine Production Manager, provided evidence to the Board that GDF Suez’s fire preparedness and response measures have evolved considerably as a result of learnings from previous fire incidents at the Hazelwood mine.61 A review of previous fires at the Hazelwood mine and an analysis of whether GDF Suez had implemented recommendations arising from those incidents is contained in Chapter 3.3 Fire prevention and mitigation measures taken by GDF Suez.

The fire preparedness and response measures developed by GDF Suez fall under the following key areas:

  • water supply
  • power supply
  • communications
  • firefighting plant and equipment
  • firefighting personnel and training
  • routine auditing of level of preparedness
  • emergency response planning.

Water supply

The Hazelwood mine features a reticulated fire services water system, which has historically been referred to as the ‘fire service network’.62 According to Mr Dugan:

The system consists of a pipe network which supplies water to sprays and hydrants (including tanker filling points) in the Mine. The hydrants have CFA compatible threads. The system is powered by a series of electric pumps located in the sector 4 pond in the floor of the Mine. There is also a clean water pump station, which de-waters the aquifer beneath the Mine and then conveys the artesian water to the Hazelwood pondage. This water can be diverted into the Hazelwood Mine fire services pipe network through the H section valve. Water can also be pumped back from the Hazelwood cooling pondage into the pipe network, utilising pumps 50 and 53. The Low Quality Water pipeline from Loy Yang A (owned by AGL) allows water to be pumped back into the Mine via C and D tanks.63

There is also a gravity fed water supply from Loy Yang that delivers water to two tanks on the ridge next to the Hazelwood Power Station and supplies water to the mine via a gravity feed.64

The fire service network functions both as a means of fire prevention, by allowing wetting down of coal faces on days of high fire risk and of fire response, by providing a supply of water for firefighting hoses, filling tankers and fixed sprays during firefighting.

Water supply requirements for the fire service network are documented in the Mine Fire Service Policy and Code of Practice. For actively mined areas and conveying corridors, the Policy prescribes a number of minimum coverage requirements.65 However, for worked out areas of the mine, the minimum requirement is that:

Tanker filling points are to be provided such that a tanker on any part of the worked out batters is within 5 minutes travel of a tanker filling point. Note: in the absence of tanker filling points a hydrant manifold will suffice.66

The difference in treatment between actively mined and worked out areas of the mine is consistent with the overall aim of the Mine Fire Service Policy and Code of Practice ‘to prevent or extinguish any fire which may threaten the brown coal winning activities, and to restore normal operating conditions as early as possible after a fire.’67

The Board heard evidence that during the period from around 1994 until around 2007, degraded or leaking pipework was progressively removed from worked out areas of the Hazelwood mine,68 principally in the area of the northern batters.69 This section was significantly affected by the Hazelwood mine fire in 2014. During the Hazelwood mine fire, extensive pipework was re-installed in this area in order to assist with the fire suppression effort.70

The adequacy and effectiveness of the fire service network, including examination into the removal of pipework, is explored in detail in Chapter 3.3 Fire prevention and mitigation measures taken by GDF Suez.

Power supply

The fire service network depends on a reliable power supply in order to operate the electric pumping stations and provide pressure to the system. While the fire service network can still operate without electricity, it relies on a gravity feed and results in greatly reduced water pressure.71

The Hazelwood mine is powered by a series of substations that work from mains power from the external power grid supplied by SP AusNet, including:

  • Morwell North (MWN), a substation on the northern side of the batters, which is the primary source of power for the mine. This substation is fed by two 66kV power lines intended to provide a level of redundancy, ie there is a backup if one of the lines goes down.
  • Morwell West (MWW), a further substation located on the southern batters also fed by two
    66kV power lines.
  • Morwell East (MWE), a smaller 11kV power feed running off a separate circuit, situated near Energy Brix.
  • MHO, a smaller substation feed.72

GDF Suez submitted that the two major power pump stations for the fire service network, being the dirty water pump station and the clean water pump station, are supplied from substations MWN and MWW.73

As explained in Chapter 2.3 Fighting the Hazelwood mine fire, power to the two major pumping stations was lost as a result of fire damage to the two SP AusNet 66kV power lines that run parallel across the northern batters. Loss of power also resulted in an interruption to coal production, and the Emergency Command Centre was left in darkness and staff were unable to use equipment such as CCTV monitors, computers and printers.74

Section 4.5.1 of the Mine Fire Service Policy and Code of Practice specifies a number of design requirements for the power supply at the Hazelwood mine:

Duplication of the electrical supply, geographic separation of feeders and automatic switching is to be provided so as to achieve the required level of reliability for Hazelwood Mine plant and equipment. Where practicable, ensure that duplicate electrical supplies are provided from separate power distribution centres. Automatic fault isolation facilities shall be provided for all plant connections on feeders supplying fire service pumps. Where practicable, the electrical distribution system should be flexible enough to supply major items of plant from alternate feeders.75

A number of other requirements are prescribed by the Mine Fire Service Policy and Code of Practice, including:

  • Section 4.5.2 states that power should preferably be supplied by overhead lines and specifies detailed requirements for routing of lines and cables.
  • Section 4.5.3 provides that power poles situated on coal must be protected by a three metre radius area of compacted sand or clay with a minimum depth of 75 millimetres. For timber poles other than on coal, a three metre radius area must be kept clear of combustible material. For concrete poles, no such requirement applies.
  • Section 4.5.4 specifies detailed requirements for siting of cabling, including a requirement to ensure cables running down batters are run in concrete troughing boxes.76

The SP AusNet power poles for the 66kV power lines to the MWN and MWW substations were made of timber, not concrete.77

Independent expert, Mr Roderic Incoll, Bushfire Risk Consultant, considered it appropriate to replace timber poles with concrete poles as a means of allowing greater redundancy in power supply.78 However, he noted that concrete poles would not necessarily eliminate the risk of power loss during a fire, as power could be lost for a variety of reasons, such as damage to transformers. In Mr Incoll’s opinion, the critical issue was the routing of power lines which, in the case of the Hazelwood mine, run across a potential fire path. Mr Incoll suggested it was preferable to route the power supply from the south or south-east of the mine, where a fire was less likely.79

At the time of the Hazelwood mine fire, there were no internal back-up power supply generators at the Hazelwood mine.80

The Hazelwood mine fire was not the first occasion during which the water supply for firefighting was severely impacted by a loss of power to pumps 50 and 53. During a fire that occurred on 12 October 2006, a loss of power supply to the pumps 50 and 53 caused the pumps to cease working. As a result, the water level dropped causing water pressure loss for firefighting and subsequently a severe reduction of water supply.81

An Incident Investigation Report into the October 2006 fire prepared by GHD Consulting Pty Ltd (GHD) in January 2007 noted that ‘a back up system for crucial services within the Mine Fire Service Network is not available.’82

In January 2008, GDF Suez conducted an internal review to follow up on the implementation of recommendations arising from the review into the October 2006 fire. In that internal review, it was also observed that there was no backup electricity supply for the Emergency Command Centre other than the mains power supply. An additional recommendation was made that: ‘The team managing the development of the emergency response control room at the training centre, should investigate the need for generators to supply power in the event that electricity supply is unavailable at the time of an emergency.’83

A further internal audit was conducted in March 2008 to follow up on implementation of recommendations arising from the October 2006 fire. The audit noted that the January 2008 review made a further recommendation ‘to perform a cost/benefit analysis to determine whether the Incident Control Centre required back-up generators to provide for the event that external power was not available during an emergency.’84 However, the report from this internal audit does not record whether this cost/benefit analysis was ever undertaken.

In June 2012, Mr Stan Kemsley, GDF Suez Mine Technical Compliance Manager, conducted an audit of the implementation of recommendations from a number of past fires at the mine, including the October 2006 fire. Mr Kemsley’s report, dated 29 June 2012, includes a table, which lists the recommendations from each incident and states whether they have been addressed and whether they have, in Mr Kemsley’s view, been effective. The audit found that all relevant recommendations from the original GHD report into the October 2006 fire had been implemented.85

However, Mr Kemsley’s audit did not enquire into the implementation of recommendations made as a result of the earlier internal audits conducted in January and March 2008. Because the recommendation to conduct a cost/benefit analysis into a back-up generator for the Emergency Command Centre was from a subsequent internal audit, it is unclear from the Kemsley audit whether the cost/benefit analysis was ever carried out.


Section 7.5 of the Mine Fire Service Policy and Code of Practice provides that:

A fully equipped multi-channel communication system is to be provided in the Emergency Command Centre at the Hazelwood Mine, capable of being manned by additional operators during fire emergencies. Provision is also to be made to enable the CFA Incident Controller to use the Fire Service Office or the Emergency Command Centre as a control centre in the event of an emergency situation.

All Fire and Emergency calls are to be called to the Mine Control Centre…or by using the radio/emergency button on hand held radios. The Mine Control Centre is available for contact all hours.

Fire spotter stations are to be available either dedicated or for emergency use for fire spotting purposes and provided with an adequate means of communication.

The Fire Service Office may be strategically positioned to also fulfil the role of a fire spotter station. Fire spotter stations are to be located such that an adequate view of the whole of the Hazelwood Mine is available under various wind conditions.86

Under the Mine Fire Instructions, the Director of Mining, the Production Manager, or the Mine Production Superintendent declares a ‘Fire Alert’ when hot, dry or windy conditions are expected and there is a high risk of fire rapidly spreading in the mine.87 When a ‘Fire Alert’ has been declared, s. 6.1 of the Mine Fire Instructions provides that the following communication procedure must be initiated to warn all personnel entering or working near the Hazelwood mine:

  • A prepared radio message is broadcast on Hazelwood mine radio frequencies informing personnel of action required.
  • Flashing red lights are activated on all Dredgers and TS2 and at the Control Centre, Fire Service Office and No 3 Transfer House.
  • The Fire Alert button is activated on the mine’s systems control software system, which enacts an SMS alert to designated staff and alerts those using that system.
  • The Director of Mining, the Mine Production Superintendent or the 1×7 crew services team leader must inform other officers that a Fire Alert has been implemented.
  • When fire danger has passed, a prepared radio message broadcast from the Hazelwood mine radio frequencies informs all personnel that the Fire Alert has been formally cancelled. The flashing red lights, mentioned above, will be turned off.88

The Mine Fire Instructions also prescribe a detailed communications protocol for reporting fires. All fires in the mine area must be reported by telephone to the Mine Emergency Command Centre, or by using the radio/emergency button. Fires must be reported to the CFA via 000 on days of declared Total Fire Bans for the Victorian Eastern Total Fire Ban District, or at any time that the Hazelwood mine has declared a Fire Alert. CFA assistance must also be requested immediately when suppression of a fire is beyond the capability of the mine fire crews in attendance, or the initial response has exceeded 30 minutes.89

The Emergency Response Plan sets out a detailed list of telephone numbers for all emergency contacts, outside agencies, and GDF Suez personnel in emergency roles. A specific radio repeater channel has been set up for communications in an emergency situation. The Emergency Response Plan provides instructions for its use.90

GDF Suez firefighting plant and equipment

Figure 2.20 describes the firefighting infrastructure, plant and equipment available at the Hazelwood mine.

Figure 2.20 GDF Suez firefighting plant and equipment91

Firefighting infrastructure, plant and equipment


3,000 litre tankers One of the ex-CFA tankers is operated by a security and emergency services contractor (Diamond Protection Pty Ltd).
Two 30,000 litre water tankers These are owned by contractors (Delta Rent Pty Ltd).
Furphy carts Three 1,000 litre furphy carts and one 2,500 litre
furphy cart.A furphy cart is a water-carrying trailer with hoses and pumps, which can be towed.
Two booster pump trailers The trailers are used in conjunction with crane monitors (spray attachments to crane arms).
Crane monitors Crane monitors can be attached to the mine’s all-terrain cranes. The Hazelwood mine has three crane monitors.
Four wheel drive vehicles All four wheel drive vehicles operating in the mine have two 30 metre hoses, nozzles and a 16 litre knapsack. These hoses can be attached to the fire service network, which allows all mine employees and contractors with the vehicles to respond to a fire.


GDF Suez firefighting personnel and training

The Emergency Response Plan lists the personnel experienced and trained for each role within the emergency organisation structure.92

The GDF Suez fire service crew, who are available to suppress fire at the Hazelwood mine, are able to call upon the following resources:

  • The 1×7 crew. This includes two crews, 1x7A and 1x7B, who undertake general maintenance of the fire service network, minor maintenance of mine infrastructure, support the 2×12 crew and respond to fire.93 Each of the two crews includes eight to 11 personnel.94
  • The 2×12 crew, consisting of two crews of approximately 18–20 mine operations personnel.95
  • RTL Mining and Earthworks Pty Ltd and O&M Pty Ltd, which provide skilled labour under contract, including mechanics, boilermakers and plant drivers. One to two personnel from the RTL Mining crew man each of the 30,000 litre tankers.96
  • Belle Banne, which provides maintenance services under contract for mine plant and equipment for the conveyor belt system.
  • Diamond Protection, which provides security, first-aid service and back-up fire response services at the mine.97

The Mine Fire Service Policy and Code of Practice emphasises the importance of training in firefighting methods and procedures to prepare for combating fires. The Mine Fire Service Policy and Code of Practice provides for adequate training sessions and exercises to ensure that each employee understands the appropriate techniques and procedures for fighting brown coal fires, and undergoes refresher training sessions at regular intervals.98

Under the Mine Fire Service Policy and Code of Practice, training of all Hazelwood mine personnel and relevant contractors must be carried out by the beginning of the declared fire season.99 According to Mr Dugan, all GDF Suez personnel and contractors receive basic training in brown coal firefighting, and refresher training for each person typically occurs every 12 months.100

The Emergency Response Plan envisages that personnel will receive training according to the skills and knowledge required for emergency duties assigned to them. Training needs that may be identified include:

  • ‘Australian Inter agency Incident Management’ for all Emergency commanders and Emergency Service Liaison Officers
  • Emergency Commanders, Logistics Officers and Planning Officers are to brief their subordinates at least annually
  • Emergency exercises are considered to be the main training for emergency personnel – these are simulated emergency exercises that may include joint exercises with emergency service agencies. At least one exercise will be held annually.101

GDF Suez uses several training tools. GDF Suez provided the Board with the following training documents:

  • Fire Person Duties Training Manual (issued 23 August 2012), which includes comprehensive information on emergency procedures, characteristics of brown coal fires, firefighting equipment and suppression methods102
  • Mine Fireman Assessment (issued 24 February 2012), which is used to record whether training has been completed and to assess personnel after receiving training.103

GDF Suez also utilises a training video titled ‘Brown Coal Firefighter Awareness’. This video was produced by the CFA and developed jointly by the region 10 CFA and Latrobe Valley coal mine operators.104

According to Mr Dugan, GDF Suez also conducts simulated fire preparedness exercises for all Hazelwood mine employees and contractors. These exercises may involve other agencies, such as the local CFA brigades, to familiarise them with the mine and suppression methods for brown coal fires. Mr Dugan also explained that the exercises are an opportunity to practise the procedures set out in the Emergency Response Plan, and allow the 2×12 shift supervisors to be prepared to act in the role of Emergency Commander in the event of an emergency.105

According to Mr Dugan, GDF Suez conducted four simulated fire emergencies during 2013 and one in January 2014, all of which involved the CFA. A further simulated fire emergency with the CFA and other agencies had been scheduled for March 2014, but this was postponed due to the Hazelwood mine fire.106 One of these simulations, on 11 December 2013, involved a simulated fire on a batter.107

According to Mr Craig Lapsley, Fire Services Commissioner, professional and volunteer firefighters from the CFA also have a responsibility to work with the coal mines to improve planning and response to major fires in the mines. As noted above, training and joint exercises with GDF Suez are a part of the fire preparedness standard operating procedures for the Yallourn North, Morwell and Traralgon fire brigades and must be conducted under r. 5.3.34 of the OHS regulations. Since 2006, the CFA and GDF Suez have held regular meetings and joint training sessions. An annual training event is held at the Hazelwood mine for GDF Suez personnel, contractors and local brigades. In addition, local brigades regularly conduct site visits for inductions and for the purpose of relationship building. A number of CFA volunteers are employed at the mine and therefore have operational knowledge of firefighting at the mine.108

Routine auditing of level of preparedness

Section 7.9 of the Mine Fire Service Policy and Code of Practice requires that prior to the start of the declared fire season, an annual audit of firefighting equipment using the ‘Check List For Fire Fighting Equipment Annual Audit Inspection’ occurs.109

Under the ‘Check List For Season Specific Fire Preparedness and Mitigation Planning’ (issued 24 November 2008), the fire season is generally declared on 1 November each year, but can be declared earlier or later depending on how rainfall, relative humidity and maximum temperatures for that year have tracked against monthly averages.110

The ‘Hazelwood Mine Guidelines for Season and Period Specific Fire Preparedness and Mitigation Planning’ (issued 13 September 2007) requires the audit to be conducted in two phases:

  • a preliminary audit in July to identify the equipment that is available, ready and fit for purpose
  • after any necessary corrective action identified in the preliminary audit is completed, a final audit in September each year to ensure that all firefighting equipment is available, ready, working and tested prior to being needed for the purpose of firefighting.111

The ‘Check List for Fire Fighting Equipment Annual Inspection’ (issued on 18 January 2013) is comprehensive and covers plant and equipment throughout the mine, including the Emergency Command Centre, communications equipment, vehicle fire suppression packs, emergency access routes and signage, alert lighting, pumping stations, pumps, valves, pipelines, fixed sprays, hydrants, tanks, fire service tankers, fire service trailers, portable sprays, hoses, nozzles and monitors.112

Mr Dugan explained that throughout the year he produces a ‘rag report’ for senior management at the start of each week summarising the status of fire and flood preparedness at the Hazelwood mine. ‘Rag’ refers to red, amber, green as in traffic light colouring system. The rag report covers the status of the pumps for the reticulated fire services water system, the status of the annual firefighting audit, whether required grass slashing has been completed, and the extent to which the mine employees and contractors have undertaken their yearly training. The rag report also includes weather forecast information and uses the traffic light colouring system to indicate the level of fire and flood risk in the upcoming week.113

According to Mr Steven Harkins, GDF Suez Director of People, Culture and Environment, these rag reports help the senior management team keep track of fire preparedness measures and the level of resources being allocated to managing fire related risks.114

According to the rag report prepared by Mr Dugan on 3 February 2014:

  • The annual audit of firefighting equipment and 90 per cent of follow up action
    items were complete.
  • All employees’ fire training was up to date.
  • All firefighting equipment and infrastructure had been checked and was generally ready for use.
  • All grass slashing was complete but a second cut may be needed in late February.
  • Under the heading ‘fire related issues to be managed in the next week’, the weather forecast for the next seven days was noted as ‘Temperatures of 39 deg. Monday with a TFB [Total Fire Ban]. Tending to mid–20s mid-week before returning to high 30s later in the week.’
  • All items were assigned a green traffic light (ie ‘acceptable’), with the exception of the weather forecast, which was assigned an amber light (ie ‘item of concern’).115

Mr William Brown, former Fire Services Officer at the Hazelwood mine, stated that prior to privatisation the State Electricity Commission Victoria sent a mechanical engineering expert from Monash House to conduct an annual audit of the mine’s practices and to ensure the mine was adhering to the Mine Fire Service Policy and Code of Practice (as it then existed). According to Mr Brown, these external audits were very thorough. Following privatisation, external audits ceased and were instead conducted in-house, but Mr Brown sought to ensure that they were carried out to the same rigorous standard.116

Emergency Response Planning

The ‘Hazelwood Mine Guidelines for Season and Period Specific Fire Preparedness and Mitigation Planning’ (issued 13 September 2007) requires that on days of high fire alert, a Period Specific Fire Preparedness and Mitigation Plan must be prepared and communicated to all personnel. A high fire alert warning is triggered when any one of these criteria is met:

  • wind gusts above 40 kilometres per hour
  • a forest or grassland fire danger index over 40
  • relative humidity below 25 per cent
  • maximum temperatures above 350C
  • maximum wind speeds above 30 kilometres per hour.117

The Period Specific Fire Preparedness and Mitigation Plan sets out the forecast weather for the day concerned, the positions of the dredgers in relation to the conveyors, the required fire preparedness steps (including spraying, and filling of furphies and other water tankers), the resources available (including employees and contractors), and reiteration of requirements upon a Fire Alert being notified.118

According to Mr Dugan, this Period Specific Fire Preparedness and Mitigation Plan may be issued by the services superintendent, a 1×7 services supervisor, or by the Mine Production Manager, and is sent to all employees and contractors by email, with persons who do not have computer access to be contacted by their supervisors.119

If there is a ‘major outbreak of fire’, this triggers the procedures under the Emergency Response Plan.120 Under this scenario, s. 7.4 of the Emergency Response Plan requires that a fire alert is declared and that procedures in the Mine Fire Instructions are carried out.121

Under s. 2.9 of the Emergency Response Plan, if the emergency is, or has the potential to escalate to a serious, large, or complex incident, a ‘full-blown emergency’ response must be initiated immediately. A ‘full-blown emergency’ may be declared by the mining shift supervisor or by GDF Suez senior managers, following which that person steps into the role of Emergency Commander. The Emergency Commander must then set up the Emergency Command Centre and await the arrival of the Incident Controller from the responsible combat agency. The Emergency Commander hands over control of the emergency to the Incident Controller once the Incident Controller arrives, but provides continued assistance and supervision of internal resources at the Hazelwood mine.122

The declaration of a ‘full-blown emergency’ also triggers employees to take up their roles within the emergency organisation structure depicted in Figure 2.21. The emergency organisation structure operates in parallel to the normal operational structure of the business until the crisis has concluded.

Figure 2.21 Emergency organisation structure under the GDF Suez Emergency Response Plan123


The Emergency Response Plan describes the roles and responsibilities of the positions depicted in Figure 2.21 including:124

  • Emergency Commander: The senior Hazelwood Mine Manager/Supervisor/Officer who may take control of GDF Suez resources if and when a major emergency exists. The Emergency Commander reports to the Incident Controller about the management of response activities.
  • The functions of the Emergency Commander include establishing the Emergency Command Centre, nominating site access, requesting personnel to fill roles of Operations Coordinator, Logistics Coordinator and Planning Coordinator, requesting the Emergency Services Liaison Officer to attend and liaise with external agencies, and assisting the Incident Controller with
    various functions.
  • Incident Controller: The senior officer of an external agency (the CFA in the event of fire), who may take control of an emergency involving the Hazelwood mine.
  • Emergency Services Liaison Officer (ESLO): This position is in place on a roster basis. During an emergency the ESLO is responsible for liaising with emergency services about the status of the incident and arranging for emergency personnel to promptly attend the incident at the mine or power station.125
  • Operations Coordinator: This role directs and controls field operations, ensures access to the work site is restricted but maintained for emergency response, and communicates the emergency status to personnel. The following positions report to the Operations Coordinator:
    • Zone Leader: manages front line firefighting personnel for a given location within the mine.
      In the case of a fire emergency, each coal level may be treated as a fire zone
    • Escort: guides teams around the mine during an emergency
    • Communications Coordinator: manages radio, phone, fax communications.
  • Planning Coordinator: This role involves obtaining maps and plans of the Hazelwood mine, and collecting and analysing incident information, including predictions, to inform the Logistics Coordinator of additional resource requirements, and to maintain a register recording the location and task of resources deployed.
  • Logistics Coordinator: This role provides logistics coordination to combat the emergency. The Logistics Coordinator manages the vehicles pool, and establishes the materials-issuing centre, medical room canteen and rest area. The role manages stocks, services and materials to combat an incident, and plans resourcing, including shifts to roster personnel on duty.
  • Mine/Station Leader: This role provides technical and administrative guidance to the Emergency Commander, and directs and oversees the Operations Coordinator, Planning Coordinator and the Logistics Coordinator.126