On 30 October 2018 the Victorian Government requested the Inspector-General for Emergency Management provide advice regarding the 30 August 2018 West Footscray industrial fire.
The specific objectives of IGEM’s review included an evaluation of the effectiveness of:
- high-risk site identification, preparedness and planning
- response and support agency roles and responsibilities
- community information and warnings, including the use of Emergency Alert.
IGEM conducted this assurance activity from 29 January to 1 May 2019, and made seven observations, nine findings, four recommendations towards improvement of the emergency management arrangements.
The passage of time since the occurrence of the West Footscray industrial fire and the delivery of this report saw a number of improvements to the way in which the sector responded to similar events. These are identified in this report.
On 14 August 2020, government released and responded to IGEM’s report, supporting in-full the four recommendations.
Read the government response from emv.vic.gov.au
About the fire
On 30 August 2018, the Metropolitan Fire and Emergency Services Board (MFB*) responded to reports of a warehouse fire at 420 Somerville Road in Melbourne’s industrial suburb of Tottenham.
As first responders, MFB quickly recognised the large number of resources required to attack the fire and led what became the most significant structural fire response since the 1991 Coode Island fire.
The fire - commonly referred to as the West Footscray industrial fire - produced a plume of black smoke and strong chemical odour that moved in a southerly direction above suburbs in the Maribyrnong, Hobsons Bay and Wyndham City local government areas.
While the fire was contained on the day of ignition, response and support organisations remained on site until 14 September 2018 to control hot spots and commence the clean-up operations at the site and adjacent public spaces contaminated by firefighting water run-off.
Overall IGEM found the agencies that comprise the emergency management sector activated, and contributed to the overall response in meaningful ways.
*As of 1 July 2020, MFB has been replaced with a new agency, Fire Rescue Victoria