On 13 July 2017, a fire broke out at the SKM Coolaroo Recycling Plant and burned for 11 days. The smoke plumes resulting from the blaze were observed across Melbourne and nearby residents were urged to evacuate due to concerns about the health impacts of air quality.
With the fire involving high hazard materials and occurring in a densely populated area, there were some similarities surrounding the Coolaroo fire and the 2014 Hazelwood Mine Fire
On 15 August 2017, the Victorian Government requested the Inspector-General for Emergency Management (IGEM) to conduct a review of the Coolaroo fire.
IGEM’s review presented an opportunity to provide assurance to government and the community that the lessons learnt from past emergencies, such as the Hazelwood Mine Fire, have been turned into sustainable improvements.
Working closely with emergency management agencies, IGEM examined how well the improvements introduced following the Hazelwood Mine Fire were applied in the Coolaroo fire response.
IGEM’s review identified key improvements including:
- improved emergency management sector coordination and collaboration for planning and response to managing smoke hazards
- reduced community exposure to harmful smoke
- improved health, safety and wellbeing of emergency service personnel for smoke hazard incidents.
IGEM’s Review of the SKM Coolaroo Recycling Plant Fire was released on 14 December 2017.