Kitty says, “Don’t get hung up on bush fire safety, make sure your hoses are in good nick and can reach every corner of your home.”
Home Evaluation Checklist
These are a range of suggested upgrades that we have combined from a number of sources to get you thinking. Not all of them will suit every home or every budget. You will most likely have a few of your own to add when you’ve done a little research.
Start by printing off or writing up your own version, time to break out your trusty clip board. Everyone knows clip boards make you look extra important.
- Install metal gutter guards.
- Install metal mesh fly screens on windows and doors.
- Consider installing shutters or removable screens to cover glass doors or windows.
- Add a water tank and diesel or petrol pump.
- Attach a sprinkler system to gutters.
- If you have a pool, large tank or dam, put a Static Water Supply (SWS) sign on your property entrance. (Contact your local brigade to register.)
- Add gravel, paved or concrete paths and skirting around your home as a barrier and keep them clear of weeds and fallen leaves.
- Choose non-combustible door mats and garden and patio furniture (Store cushions inside).
- Check that your roof and external walls and cladding are in good condition regularly. Holes and gaps should be covered or repaired so embers can’t get in and start burning.
- Repair damaged or missing tiles on the roof and patch patch cracks in external walls.
- Fit seals around doors and windows to eliminate gaps.
- Enclose the areas under the house, cover ventilation gaps with a fine metal mesh.
- Have hoses long enough to reach around your house that can be unhooked and brought inside to protect them from the elements and embers.
- Collect tools that will help you defend yourself and your home, E.G.: Protective clothing, cotton hairy mop & buckets and Ladders.
If you have LPG cylinders connected make sure they are clear and easy to access, that the safety vents point away from your home (or other structures including bushes ans combustible fences). Ensure they are well maintained.
BBQ bottles should be stored safely, positioning vents away from flammable materials. Always store them upright.
Non-combustible fences are the most effective at withstanding the intense heat generated by a bush fire. They may also work as a heat shield. (Brush wood fences give fire fighters nightmares!)
Plant trees and shrubs thoughtfully to reduce the spread of flame and select plants that are less flammable. Here’s a helpful fact sheet.
The sad truth is, some houses are undefendable against a bush fire in some conditions – Fire fighters often have to make the difficult decision on which houses can be defended and which ones are simply too difficult or may be unsafe. You may have also heard the myth that there will always be a fire truck to defend your house – unfortunately it’s just not possible for our trucks and volunteers to be everywhere in a large and fast moving bush fire event. The harsh reality is, fire fighters must prioritise. Taking the simple steps we’ve talked through in these articles to improve your home and garden can give the best chance against bush fires with or without someone there to defend it.
Bush Fire Household Assessment Tool
For the full guided experience check out this amazing and in-depth tool on the Rural Fire Service website. The Bushfire Household Assessment Tool is designed to help you make an informed decision when making your bush fire survival plan, such as whether you will leave early, or stay with your property and defend it.