Telstra releases report on Warrnambool Exchange fire

Report reveals an electrical fault caused the fire

Telstra has released a report relating to the Warrnambool Exchange fire revealing it was caused by a non-suspicious electrical fault.

A fire broke out on November 22, leaving more than 60,000 residents and businesses without fixed line telecommunications services impacting landline, broadband, mobile and radio services in Warrnambool and surrounding areas.

Investigators believe the fire may have started in the ceiling of the maintenance control room or in the room itself.

Telstra Chief Operations Officer, Brendon Riley, said it learnt a number of key lessons and has made 22 recommendations to prevent similar incidents in the future.

“This report follows an exhaustive investigation into the fire and its impact on communications. We will put in place a range of physical, process and disaster recovery improvements to minimise the chance of something like this happening again,” Riley said.

“We can never completely protect against this type of incident but we can learn from it to improve the resilience and robustness of our network across Australia for our customers.

“We are making the key findings of the report public so the people of South West Victoria can see what we’ve learnt and the improvements we are planning to make.”

Riley said the compensation process that has been running for a few months will remain open for a three year period.

Restoration works in the exchange are also ongoing and should be completed by June.

The report looked at a variety of issues arising from the fire, including root cause, customer impact, recovery effectiveness, network architecture, long term restoration and impact on emergency services.

Some the key recommendations include thermal image inspection of cabling and the installation of smoke detectors in the ceiling spaces; additional building inspections to check a range of fire, power and airconditioning equipment; physical separation of key cables connected into the exchange to minimise potential of all critical infrastructure being affected by one incident; and, additional offsite back up of critical and complex configuration data to allow for quick re-loading of network configurations.

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