Victorian police issue text fire warning

Millions of Victorians received SMS text messages to their mobile phones on Monday warning of the state’s extreme fire danger.

The state’s major telecommunications networks – Telstra, Optus and Hutchison – sent warnings from Victoria Police to their mobile customers, warning of high wind and fire risk, and advising they listen to ABC radio for emergency updates. The networks sent the messages to more than 3 million phones, using technology that isolated Victorian numbers, and sent the texts in bulk through a dispatch centre.

Victorian premier John Brumby said the technology trial was a first for the state and a supplement to warnings made through the media. However, he said the system was not suitable for an immediate threat, such as a terrorist attack or tsunami, because it could only deliver texts at a rate of up to 600,000 an hour.

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