Fire Strategy

Total Fire Ban

On days of Total Fire Ban in the Central District of Victoria, steam locomotives will not run at Puffing Billy Railway. Instead, Diesel locomotives will operate on a limited timetable. We will ensure our website is kept up to date regarding the Railway's operations during the Fire Danger period and Total Fire Ban days. However, if you have any concerns or queries, please contact our Customer Service Centre.

Please note that on TOTAL FIRE BAN days:

  • Puffing Billy trains will be diesel hauled and a limited timetable applies.

When the fire rating is EXTREME or CODE RED:

  • Puffing Billy Railway will be CLOSED.
  • No staff or volunteers will be located on the Railway's premises.

To understand the Country Fire Authority's (CFA) fire danger ratings, please refer to the CFA website.

 

Days of Total Fire Ban

On days of Total Fire Ban, trains will run to an alternate timetable. Diesel locomotives will operate trains to the times below:

From Belgrave to Lakeside
Belgrave Departure10.30 am12.30 pm2.30 pm
Menzies Creek Arrival10.53 am12.59 pm2.53 pm
Menzies Creek Departure11.05 am1.05 pm3.00 pm
Emerald Arrival11.19 am1.24 pm3.19 pm
Emerald Departure11.20 am1.20 pm3.15 pm
Lakeside Arrival11.30 am1.40 pm3.30 pm
From Lakeside to Belgrave
Lakeside Departure12.30 pm2.25 pm4.15 pm
Emerald Arrival12.44 pm2.39 pm4.24 pm
Emerald Departure12.45 pm2.40 pm4.25 pm
Menzies Creek Arrival12.57 pm2.57 pm4.37 pm
Menzies Creek Departure1.00 pm3.00 pm4.38 pm
Belgrave Arrival1.30 pm3.30 pm5.08 pm
Puffing Billy Diesel Loco

Fire Prevention

Puffing Billy Railway regularly reviews its Fire Prevention Plans with the intention of minimising the fire risk within and adjacent to the railway corridor.

 

Lineside

Environmental works carried out throughout the year complement our fire prevention plan.

Reduction of environmental weeds, clearing of debris from the corridor and drains all contribute in the continuous effort in the reduction of fuel loads.

 

The annual lineside clearing program commences in November with fuel reduction works covering the railway corridor from boundary to boundary. Manual and mechanic methods are used varying from hand weeding to using hand-held brush cutters, tractor and slasher, flail mower and a wood chipper.

In past years, this work has consumed some 1,000 man days of effort and it is anticipated that the coming year will be no different. Throughout the lineside clearing program, regular gangs are working within the corridor and around stations between Belgrave and Gembrook.

During the declared Fire Danger Period, rail mounted vehicles will operate behind all trains including steam or diesel hauled as a Fire Patrol.

The primary roles of the Fire Patrol crew are:

  • Detecting and reporting of any fires
  • The first point of contact with emergency services
  • Safely fight the fire to extinguish/control within their resource and training capacity

 

Train Operations 

All steam locomotives are fitted with stainless steel spark arresting grids in the smoke box and the ash pans located under the locomotive fireboxes are fitted with ash arresting screens which are required to be closed prior to the locomotives commencing operations during the declared Fire Danger period.

These safety devices are checked for serviceability by maintenance staff prior to and during the Fire Danger Season. Locomotive crews are required to check the safety devices for serviceability and correct operation on a daily basis.

On days of Total Fire Ban, diesel locomotives will normally be operated in place of steam locomotives. Services between Lakeside and Gembrook will be suspended on these days.

 

Training/Emergency Services Liaison

Annual training sessions are carried out for Fire Patrol crew members and other railway staff. The railway maintains close contact with local CFA brigades and other emergency service providers including annual familiarisation training from Belgrave to Gembrook.