SINCE last year's St Patrick's Day bushfires ripped through the south-west, The Standard has joined victims of the blazes as they stood up to energy giant Powercor and demanded safety.
No one - not Powercor, not the independent energy regulator Energy Safe Victoria, nor the state or federal governments - contest what is painfully true. Decrepit energy infrastructure started the blazes at The Sisters/Garvoc and Terang and was involved in the cause of the others.
After the ashes stopped falling and heartbroken farmers counted dead and dying stock, pasture lost, fences destroyed and the work of lifetimes lost in a single night, the voice of the south-west called for safety.
Safety in this case meant not walking past poles that were installed around the time Hitler invaded Poland in 1939 and hoping they don't fall over on a windy, hot night and start another destructive fire.
Safety in this case meant forcing the reluctant power company to improve its maintenance and inspection regimes.
Safety in this case meant shaming federal and state politicians to act on our behalf.
Safety meant making sure last year's preventable fires never happen again.
The release of ESV's report into Powercor's maintenance regime on Friday detailed the changes Powercor has been forced to make in the wake of the fires.
They are to be welcomed.
But they are not enough.
Powercor will need to replace hundreds of poles that are not safe. They will have to increase the rapidity of pole inspections, they may have to use improved technology to prove they're safe (it still beggars belief that their testing consists mainly of whacking a pole with a hammer) and they will face increasing scrutiny on all of the above.
They are also facing a separate process that should lead to prosecution over the The Sisters/Garvoc and Terang fires as well as multiple class actions as the south-west rightly seeks to recoup its losses from those clearly at fault.
The Standard will continue to support the fight of brave south-west farmers as they take on the corporate and government monoliths.
This must never happen again.