Managing road closures during emergencies

We close roads during an emergency, such as a bushfire, to protect lives. The safety of emergency services and the public is the highest priority in traffic management during an emergency.

There will be times during an emergency when you will need to access your property in a timely manner. Family and friends may also need to access a property to provide food, animal welfare or other support to people who have stayed on their property.

We have developed a tiered system to help us determine who is able to cross roadblocks at different stages of an incident.


Access Tier

Risk Information

Access
Control Agency may authorise access for specific access and impose restrictions

Identification or Authorisation

Tier 1

Emergency Services Only

Designated area/road likely to be impacted by fire

Access in/out of area blocked and/or danger of hazardous trees etc

Risk Level = High

Emergency Services

Other services authorised by the Control Agency

Any person authorised by the Control Agency

Emergency Service vehicles

Approved Farm Fire Units

Tier 2

Essential Services Assessment and restoration activities, Media with escort

Primary hazard past/lessened

Secondary hazards:

  • falling/fallen trees
  • fallen power lines
  • Identification of works required to reduce risk(s)
  • PPE required

Risk Level = Significant

As per Tier 1

Essential Services (includes Councils, DPTI, SA Power Networks, Biosecurity SA, PIRSA etc.) to conduct  assessment and commence restoration activities

Media with escort

As per Tier 1

Agency/organisation ID

CFS Media accreditation ID plus appropriate PPE/PPC

Tier 3

Relief/Recovery Services

Bona Fide Residents, Media

Secondary hazards are being reduced but still evident

Caution required

Risk Level = Moderate

Bona Fide Resident* and/or land owner returning to protect/defend property/stock

Media

Relief/Recovery services

Bona Fide resident* returning to protect/defend property/stock

CFS Media accreditation

Relief/Recovery Services

Tier 4

Resident, Relief/Recovery Services, Media

Secondary hazards largely reduced

Mopping up actions continuing

Caution required

Risk Level = Low

Residents returning to home/property

Relief/Recovery personnel

Aid agencies

Bona Fide resident* evidence of residency

Relief/Recovery services ID

Tier 5

Road Open

Control Agency satisfied that road related issues no longer pose a threat to road users

Risk level = Insignificant

Open to all

Not applicable

* Bona Fide Resident and/or landowner must show identification to prove they live in the area and understand that they enter at their own risk. You will need to provide a driver’s licence or similar photo ID, or a rates notice with your address before you can enter an affected area.

How do I find out if roads are closed?

You can find information about road closures through social and other media sources, government websites and community meetings.

Emergency information is available at:

You can find out more in our After the Fire fact sheet.

Will it be easy to see what roads are closed?

The Control Agency may develop and release maps showing the status of roads affected by the emergency. Roads marked:

  • Red are closed due to safety issues - Tier 1
  • Orange indicate access is being assessed and may be open to access - Tier 2
  • Yellow indicate access is allowed for approved access - Tier 3
  • Green are open to access - Tier 4, caution may be required whilst travelling these roads, speed and other restrictions may apply; and
  • without colour are open with no restrictions on access – Tier 5

When are road closures set up?

We close roads when there are risks to the community such as:

  • Dangerous trees which may have been burnt or partially burnt that may be unstable
  • Power lines that have been brought down or may be brought down, these should be considered live
  • Road conditions
  • Potential for the fire to flare up
  • High water across the road
  • Unstable ground
  • Wandering stock or animals
  • Smoke which may reduce visibility
  • Emergency Service vehicles and personnel working and/or moving through the area.

Who decides on and manages the road closures?

The Incident Controller consults with various emergency service people and people who know the area well and decides where to establish road closures.

Police Officers usually manage road closures. This responsibility can be delegated to emergency personnel such as firefighters or SES personnel.

What if I need to get into the fire ground to check if someone is ok?

It can be distressing for you to be kept out of your community. It is important that trained responders are the first to enter. They will assess damage and clean-up in a safe and controlled environment.

Contact the Bushfire Information Hotline if you are worried about the welfare of a family member, friend or relative during an emergency. This will also help emergency services in their efforts to locate missing people.

Will roads be open once a fire has passed?

The Control Agency will liaise with all key stakeholders and assess the risks before deciding to reopen any roads.

Are residents allowed in?

Bona fide residents are generally permitted access at Tier 4, if they have ID showing their address.

At Tier 3, residents wanting to protect/defend their homes or check on their stock will be granted access on production of ID showing proof of their residency.

What if I do not have any ID?

If you don't have ID you can:

  • attend a designated relief centre
  • contact your local council or nearest police station to find out your options for verifying your identity. They may be able to look you up on the electoral role.
  • contact family or friends to find out whether they have any records or copies of documentation, which may help.

What if I need to check my animals/farming property?

We understand that farmers in particular, need to access their properties as soon as possible to check:

  • Stock
  • Fences
  • Damage to your farm.

While safety will always remain the number one priority for emergency services, we will provide early access when it is safe and appropriate.

Farmers and business owners can expect more consideration of local knowledge in the development of Return to Home guidelines to prioritise the assessment and reopening of roads.

Residents provided with early access are likely to be required to meet minimum safety requirements including appropriate clothing, communications devices, vehicle and equipment.