Have you ever wondered what happens to a jail in the event of a bushfire?
The recent Gospers Mountain bushfire which tore through the Lithgow township days before Christmas, came extremely close to Lithgow Correctional Centre.
Despite coming within one kilometre of the maximum security jail, there were no plans to evacuate.
Newly appointed Governor of Lithgow Correctional Centre Faith Slatcher, said it was safer for the inmates to stay in the centre, rather than put them in trucks and onto the roads.
"Looking at evacuation, that's a risk assessment, how safe is it?
"The inmates were in a safe environment compared to some evacuation places and we didn't want to put them on the roads which were becoming problematic due to closures and spot fires," she said.
She said there had also been some backlash on social media about inmates and people not caring for their safety.
"At the end of the day they're still people. You don't know their story or why they're here and their safety is important to us," she said.
She said the safety of staff and inmates was a priority and the centre had a strong fire management plan in place.
"A lot of fire mitigation has been done around the complex over the years including clearing of undergrowth and back burning, we try to mitigate the risk as much as possible," she said.
"The blaze didn't have fuel to feed off."
"Hydrants and hoses are available to put out any spot fires if any embers should fall into the centre.
"Plus, P2 masks were issued to all staff and inmates as a precautionary measure," she said.
Ms Slatcher also reminded us that maximum-security centres like Lithgow are made of concrete and steel.
"It was the safest place for them [inmates] to be. There are also asset protection zones which are large areas of clear ground that surround the prison," she said.
Ms Slatcher said the jail was commended by the RFS for its well prepared site.
"We make sure at all times that we lower all risk.
"The centre is always prepared in the event of any natural disaster and the staff are trained and up to date," she said.
She said Lithgow Correctional Centre continues to liaise with the RFS and she was grateful for their assistance and also commended the centre's staff for their efforts.
"The staff were amazing, they put in 1000 per cent," she said.
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