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Joint Media Release
Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for the Environment and Heritage
Greg Hunt MP
John Forrest MP
Federal Member for Mallee

6 April 2005

CFA and Bureau of Meteorology work together to improve fire warnings around Edenhope

Mr Greg Hunt, Parliamentary Secretary with ministerial responsibility for the Australian Bureau of Meteorology and Mr John Forrest, Federal Member for Mallee today announced that a new state-of-the-art Automatic Weather Station (AWS) at Edenhope in Western Victoria will provide half hourly reports in support of improved fire services during the fire season.

"For more than a decade, CFA has operated a network of Automatic Weather Stations (AWS) in western Victoria to monitor weather conditions that may affect fire fighting operations, such as summer-time wind changes," Mr Hunt said.

"CFA has now decided that it would be of mutual benefit to have the Australian Bureau of Meteorology own and operate this network as part of the Bureau's national Automatic Weather Station network of over 540 stations nationwide."

Mr Forrest said an AWS was installed at Edenhope in the late 1980s following serious wildfires that occurred in Victoria in 1977, 1983 and 1985.

"The new AWS will be located at Edenhope airport and will be useful for the local aviators as well as the rural community in the area," Mr Forrest said.

"It will provide accurate readings of temperature, humidity and wind as well as rainfall every hour 365 days a year. During the fire season, it will report to the Bureau every half hour.

"Should there be a significant change in the weather, for example a wind change or sudden temperature change, then this will be immediately reported to the Bureau. These reports will also be forwarded to CFA and the Fire Management Branch of the Department of Sustainability and Environment (DSE) every 10 minutes during hazardous conditions, ensuring that the fire authorities have the very latest information available.

"This new facility, along with other upgrades in the network, will help the Bureau, DSE and CFA to closely monitor the weather and will contribute towards safer and more effective fire fighting, benefiting farmers and crop dusters and the local community in general."

CFA has provided funding for replacement and upgrade of several AWSs to the Bureau standard and the Edenhope AWS is the third to be upgraded in the old CFA network. Data from the Edenhope AWS is available at: http://www.bom.gov.au/products/IDV65119.shtml [please note - link is case sensitive].

Media Contact:
Fiona Murphy (Mr Hunt's office) 0423 577 045
Marie Schlemme (Mr Forrest's office) 03 5032 4510

Commonwealth of Australia