Bushfires pose a risk to life, property and the environment in rural and urban areas throughout NSW. They can be caused by incidents like lightning strikes, sparks from farm machinery and electrical incidents such as fallen powerlines.
If overhead powerlines aren't inspected and maintained, they can clash or be brought down by strong winds, falling trees and branches, or broken poles and fittings, creating a serious safety and bushfire risk. Just as Ausgrid maintains the powerlines and poles that it owns, customers with privately-owned powerlines are required to do the same.
As our customer, you have an obligation to maintain your customer installation so that it operates safely and in accordance with Ausgrid's Bushfire Risk Management Plan. The private poles and wires on your property are part of your customer installation, and you are responsible for their safe maintenance, which includes inspecting and testing them regularly, repairing them if necessary, and making sure that they are free of vegetation.
What to look for:
Avoid uninsulated wires clashing in windy weather. Fitting 'spreaders' (which keep the lines separated) is one solution. Ensure only a licensed electrical contractor undertakes this work.
If one wire hangs lower than others or wires are slack, they are more likely to clash. You will need to engage a licensed electrical contractor to repair these wires.
If the insulation that protects some wires is missing or damaged, the exposed wire may be live. Contact with this could be fatal, and vegetation touching the wire in this area is more likely to start a fire. Insulated wires should be replaced, not repaired, and only by a licensed electrical contractor.
Trees near powerlines
Trees and other vegetation too close to powerlines may cause fires or other safety risks such as fallen live wires. Trees need to be trimmed to provide a safety clearance from powerlines (in bush fire prone areas, 2.5 metres around uninsulated wires and one metre around insulated wires), as well as allowing for regrowth. All overhanging limbs and branches should also be removed in bush fire prone areas. Tree trimming near live powerlines must only be done by an authorised tree trimmer.
Termites or wood rot
Termites and wood rot can cause serious structural damage to your private poles. All termite infested poles must be treated by a registered pest controller. Unsafe poles must be replaced by a licensed electrical contractor.
Is your property bushfire prone?
Your local council can tell you if your property has been classified as bushfire prone. For more information contact the NSW Rural Fire Service on 1800 654 443 or 02 8741 5555.
Your responsibilities are to:
- Arrange for a licensed electrical contractor to carry out periodic safety checks of your electrical wiring in your premises.
- Arrange an annual inspection (in bush fire prone areas) before the start of the bush fire danger season (usually 1 October) - checking for defects on your private powerlines and poles.
- Keep trees well clear of your powerlines – arranging for an authorised tree trimmer to trim vegetation that is too close to you private powerlines.
- Regularly organise a detailed inspection of your private powerlines and poles (including below ground line inspection and treatment) by qualified persons.
- Promptly repair any identified defects (such as broken wires or damaged insulators) using a licensed electrical contractor of your choice.
- Use only qualified people to undertake inspections, repairs or installations or tree trimming near powerlines.
In instances where no action has been taken to address an identified bushfire risk, Ausgrid may need to disconnect supply for safety reasons.
Ausgrid’s responsibilities are to:
- Provide detailed information to customers on electrical safety and bushfire risk management (via brochures, customer notifications, our website and our Tree Safety Management Plan.
- Notify landowners/occupiers of defects Ausgrid knows about on their private powerlines (the ultimate responsibility however remains with the landowner/occupier).
- Maintain safe distances between Ausgrid powerlines and trees on public property in our distribution area (through tree trimming and vegetation management programs).
- Assist customers in identifying their private powerlines and poles.
Customer Installation Defects
A defect notice may be issued if your electrical installation does not comply with safety standards. This may be due to incorrect or faulty wiring, recent alterations or additions to the connection, or trees or branches growing too close to electrical wires on the property. Read more about elecrical installation defects.
For more information about preventing bushfires, download the following documents:
If you have any questions after reviewing these documents, contact Ausgrid on 13 15 35
For further information: