14 January 2020

Reports of ESA imposters trying to remove valuables from bushfire prone areas

| Dominic Giannini
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ACT Fire & Rescue

The ESA and ACT Fire and Rescue are not conducting door-knocking operations. Photo: ACT Fire and Rescue Facebook Page.

ACT Fire and Rescue (ACTFR) has warned Canberrans living on the urban fringe that the SES is not door-knocking, following reports of “fire volunteers in orange” offering to help residents in the Garran area move their valuables.

Any door-knocking conducted by Community Fire Units (CFU) will only be related to preparing your home to withstand a fire, and not removing valuables from the premises, ACTFR says.

“The CFU coordination team have confirmed that any of these members will be in their blue ACTFR issued [personal protective clothing] and be carrying their ID card,” they said in a post on Facebook.

Last week, Emergency Services Agency (ESA) Commissioner Georgeina Whelan reiterated this point at a press conference.

“We have a number of official people out there in the community giving advice, but we have had no official door-knocking activity in the ACT. We have many emergency services personnel out there and community fire unit personnel checking around the suburbs,” Ms Whelan said.

“You will see them in a blue uniform. So, if you have somebody knocking on your door, that is not an ESA activity and I would question the advice that has been given and pass on your concerns to ACT Policing.”

If you are approached by anyone suspicious purporting to be from an emergency service, or they are unable to produce official ID, contact ACT Policing on 131 444.

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HiddenDragon8:18 pm 14 Jan 20

A very useful warning, but on the broader point raised by this post – i.e. “bushfire prone areas” and “the urban fringe” – that’s actually most of Canberra, including what might otherwise be thought of as inner areas.

In the case of the inner south, there’s little that would be out of range of ember attack from the Red Hill Nature Reserve/Federal Golf Course. For the inner north there’s the Mount Ainslie, O’Connor Ridge and Black Mountain Nature reserves, all with abundant fire fuel loads.

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