Telstra Wholesale
Warrnambool Exchange Fire - All Recommendations Complete
Copyright Date:
Copyrighted By:
Telstra Wholesale
Family Friendly:

Warrnambool Exchange Fire - All Recommendations Complete

Warrnambool Exchange Fire

In June 2014, I published an interim report detailing our progress implementing the recommendations from my original investigation into the fire at the Warrnambool exchange.

Today I'm pleased to report all 22 of my recommendations have now been completed and implemented or, in one instance, deemed redundant due to actions taken in another of the recommendations.


Pictured: The re-built exchange at Warrnambool

While some of these recommendations related directly to Warrnambool, others related to Telstra processes, policies or assets which were not site related.

My investigation into the Warrnambool exchange fire, and subsequent recommendations, targeted 118 multi-functional sites across regional Australia with a similar technology mix to those at Warrnambool. In many instances, the benefits gained from the implementation of a recommendation has gone beyond these 118 sites.


Pictured: Map of the 118 sites with a technology mix similar to Warrnambool

Some of these benefits include:

  • Restoring the Warrnambool exchange to full working order. Consolidating equipment into fewer rooms and removing redundant technologies resulting in a significant reduction in power consumption.

  • De-powering redundant equipment at Telstra network facilities and sites well beyond the original 118 sites. In the past 12 months alone, this initiative has reduced energy consumption by a total of 2,090 MWh and reduced Telstra's carbon emissions by about 2,000 tonnes (equivalent to the emissions from 530 average cars).

  • Increasing our fleet of portable temporary infrastructure. Further strengthening Telstra's ability to provide communications during emergency situations.

  • These additions include our new State Mobilenet Radio Cell on Wheels (SMR CoW), Satellite Mobile Exchanges on Wheels (SAT MEoW) and, what we affectionately call, our "Big Cat" MEoW which is the largest MEoW in Telstra's fleet with 2000 fixed and 768 ADSL2+ lines as well as providing 3G and 4G mobile coverage.

  • Improving transmission diversity to 49 sites following a national audit to determine the level of route diversity available to the core transport network.

  • Carrying out thermal imaging of cabling to detect and rectify any risks associated with overheating or faults with electrical wiring.

  • Building, safety and smoke alarm reviews at these sites to detect and remediate any potential risks.

    Installing an over-ride button on the main switchboard for our stand-by generators.

    Reviewing and updating a number of our policies and processes.


Pictured: Telstra deployed one of its SAT MEoW to Dungog during NSW floods in April 2015

The primary aim of the Fire Recommendation Implementation Program is to reduce the risk and impact of future occurrences, improve the preparedness of operational staff, recording methods and processes which could be used in potential future disaster situations. I believe the implementation of these recommendations has gone a long way to achieving this aim.

The fire at the Warrnambool Exchange was an extremely rare event which we'll never be able to fully protect against. So some of these recommendations are measures to help us recover more quickly if the unthinkable should ever happen again. I just hope it's not in my lifetime.

David Piltz
The Author David Piltz

David Piltz is Telstra's Director of Fixed and Data Access Engineering responsible for technology selection, planning, design, lifecycle management of all Telstra's Access Technology and Assets.

See all of David Piltz's posts

Related Articles

Recent Articles