Firies back tower

Emergency warnings and communications are expected to improve for the previously fire-ravaged Benloch as Telstra moves to install a second telecommunications tower.
Telstra has proposed a mobile telecommunications network base station at Feeneys Lane under the Victorian Mobile Black Spot Program, and local firies are backing the move.
Benloch Fire Brigade captain Gary Deer said improvements to the network were vital to sending timely emergency warnings to residents in fire-threatened areas.
“When we have an event the need is highlighted to us,” he said.
“There is some fire risk in the community and when that happens we want people to know as soon possible. We want them to get the warning messages and advice in a timely manner and when they need to.”
Locals cannot forget the 266-hectare controlled burn that tore through more than 3000 hectares and destroyed six homes and other assets in October 2015.
Mr Deer one of the biggest challenges as a firefighter was relaying information about the fire.
“If I have to move locations to do that it takes time and it takes me away from the activity. I can’t look after my team if I have to drive 3km away because it’s the only way to get coverage,” he said.
Coliban group officer Peter Thomson said Benloch was known to have poor reception and that could be tough when trying to control a fire.
“Communication improvements is something we welcome. There are a lot of areas where changes need to made,” he said.
Mr Thomson said other areas with poor reception included Ashbourne, Tylden and Drummond.
Telstra installed a telecommunications tower in Benloch following the 2015 but local residents said the tower was poorly located and had offered little improvement to their service.
Hayley Machen, manager of a Benloch-based recreational camp, said proper network was vital for emergency situations but also day-to-day communications. She said clients often relied on the service, which was lacking.

Community consultation will continue until March 8.

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