VICSES volunteers help evacuate Box Hill tower

VICSES volunteers help evacuate Box Hill tower

24/08/2021, 3:37 PM

Overnight, Victoria State Emergency Service (VICSES) Whitehorse and Northcote volunteers assisted with the evacuation of a 35-storey building in Box Hill.

A pipe failure which flooded the basement in the morning, had taken out power to the entire building with emergency lights failing later in the day.

Victoria Police decided to evacuate all residents and guests at The Chen on Whitehorse Road, requesting our volunteers from VICSES Whitehorse Unit to deploy Remote Area Lighting (RELs)  systems throughout the stairwells, foyer and exterior doorways.

However, given the scale of the evacuation, our volunteers were asked to assist police, knocking on doors and escorting residents down multiple stairwells and out of the building.

The decision was taken at this point to mobilise VICSES Northcote Unit to supply additional lighting and personnel.

The operation took almost two hours, with VICSES Whitehorse volunteers arriving at the scene at 19:40, requesting support from VICSES Northcote shortly before 20:00. The volunteers returned to their unit, shortly before 21:20.

The interagency response also included Fire Rescue Victoria, Ambulance Victoria and Whitehorse City Council.

Quote attributable to VICSES Central Duty Officer, Geb Abbott:

“An earlier incident had left the high rise without power or lighting. The VICSES volunteers were able to respond swiftly to assist Victoria Police and it was an amazing effort with a great interagency response.”

Quote attributable to VICSES Whitehorse Section Leader, Readiness, Ollie Nam:

“For a building that big the portable battery-powered lighting was essential. Generally we use it for a quick setup at storm damage jobs and assisting other agencies such as at crime scenes. Northcote Unit assisted by supplying additional lighting and members."

“One of our strengths at VICSES is that we can mobilise a lot of people quickly, which helped Victoria Police to expedite the evacuation.”