Acciona Policy to Let Turbine Fires Burn Out at Waubra

Brendan Gullifer
The Courier, November 20 2010

Waubra wind farm operator Acciona has confirmed a policy of allowing fires in turbines to burn out.

Director of generation Brett Wickham said the height of turbine poles, about 80 metres, precluded safe fire fighting.

“We stand back and wait until it burns out,” he said.

But a CFA spokesperson said its fire fighters were responsible for responding to all fires, including at wind farms.

This included fires inside turbines and on adjacent land, and rescuing people trapped inside towers, the spokesman said.

Mr Wickham, however, said it was possible to fight a small turbine fire but “in most circumstances we wouldn’t send anyone in”.

He said his company had worked with the CFA on a bushfire mitigation plan which included ground clearing around the base of each turbine and clearance from substations and overhead lines.

Mr Wickham said the company had spent $25,000 on creating a rapid fill capability for water tanks at its Waubra maintenance facility, for use by local fire trucks.

And with 24/7 monitoring of turbine temperatures, Mr Wickham said Acciona personnel would respond quickly to any fire alert.

Mr Wickham said the CFA and other emergency services would be onsite at Waubra this weekend undertaking exercises.

He called turbine fires “extremely rare”. His comments come after a wind turbine fire at the Starfish Hill Wind Farm, near Cape Jervis, in South Australia.

Local fire fighters could do little but watch the blaze from half a kilometre away as the situation was deemed too dangerous to approach, according to a local report.

On arrival, WorkSafe officers then ordered fire fighters a further 500 metres away as burning tips of the blades were flying off from the structure.

South Australian country fire crews have been told by management little can be done in the event of a wind turbine fire because of the threat it poses to officers, according to the report.

The Starfish Hill turbine collapsed following the fire.

Download the full article →