Residents living in the Hills Face Zone should take action to protect their property from bushfire.
Identify your level of preparedness with the Bushfire Ready Assessment Tool provided by the CFS.
Reducing the amount of fuel on a property is one of the most critical components of preparing for bushfires. Measures that should be taken before the fire season include:
- Removing dead branches, leaves and undergrowth from your home
- Pruning tree limbs less than two metres above ground
- Pruning branches overhanging the home
- Cutting long grass within 20 metres of the home
- Removing bark, heavy mulch, wood piles and any other flammable materials close to the home and sheds
There are various measures that can be taken in the garden to protect your home. They include:
- A sprinkler system to wet down the vegetation and reduce the impact of radiant heat. (All fittings should be metal as plastic melts.)
- Access to an alternative water supply such as a gravity-fed tank, dam or swimming pool of at least 5000 litres. Do not rely on mains water being available during a fire
- A petrol-driven water pump
- Hoses that are long enough to reach around the home
- A stone wall, earth barrier, or fence close to your home as a radiant heat shield
- Vegetation that is fire resistant, including plants and trees with high water and salt content. They should be low in volatile oil with little or no dead materials, and they should have smooth bark and no branches touching the ground
- A vegetable garden, as it can act as an excellent fuel break
- Trees and shrubs spaced so there is not a continuous canopy
There are various ways in which a house can burn during a bushfire - radiant heat ahead of the fire front, burning debris falling on the building and direct flame contact.
Research has shown that the biggest cause, however, is sparks and embers that can trigger a fire before and hours after the bushfire has passed.
Sparks and embers enter a home whenever there is a gap, such as under roofing tiles, under the floor, in crevices, window sills, vents and under verandahs.
Some basic measures to improve your home safety are:
- Smooth surface - No nooks and crannies where leaves and debris can gather
- Roofing - Well-secured metal roofing is preferable. A titled roof needs to be well fitted with fire-resistant sparking (ie fiberglass-based aluminum foil)
- Walls - Non Flammable wall materials such as brick, mud brick and fibre cement. Vinyl weatherboards, rough timber and other claddings can warp or catch fire
- Windows, crevices and vents - Spark proof the home with metal flywire screens on windows and doors, or install fire resistant metal shutters. Cover all wall cavities in fine wire mesh
- Skylights - Install wire, reinforced glass or a thermo plastic cover on skylights as plastic can melt and glass break in strong heat
- Property access - Gateways should be at least three metre wide and there should be clear access with a turnaround point for fire-fighting vehicles.
- Gutters - Regularly clean gutters and remove leaves and bark from any areas where they become trapped
- Sprinkler system - A home bushfire sprinkler system that directs water over the roof, windows, doors and under floor areas is one of the most effective ways of protecting against radiant heat, direct flame and ember attack. Seek professional advice for design and installation
Make provision for the safe storage of valuables such as family photos and videos, insurance documents, house deeds etc. ensure all members of the family are aware of the contents and location.