Bushfire prevention: Your Summer property maintenance guide.
Summer is here and after a long and wet winter, now is the time to prepare your home and property for the coming Fire Danger Season.
A wet winter means more weeds, undergrowth and vegetation, which will dry out over summer and become fast-burning fuels.
Cleaning up around the home and maintaining your firefighting equipment is a year-round responsibility for anyone who lives in a bushfire-risk area, and spring is the last chance to do this before the Fire Danger Season.
Here are some things you should do now, to prepare your property for the coming Fire Danger Season:
Clear and maintain a defendable space
The Country Fire Service (CFS) recommends creating a 20 metre cleared space around your home for fire protection. This doesn’t mean clearing every blade of grass or tree, but it means removing flammable material and ensuring trees and shrubs don’t create a continuous canopy to your house. Walkways, driveways and mown lawn are effective ways to create a defendable space. Regularly remove dead branches, fallen leaves, long grass and vegetation litter from this space to provide the best protection for your home.
Tidy fine fuels and leaf litter around the home and property
Remove weeds, leaf litter and other fine fuels from around the home and across your property. Maintain this process throughout the Fire Danger Season and dispose of rubbish appropriately (be aware of restrictions around burning off on Fire Ban Days).
Gutters can regularly become filled with leaves and twigs. Regularly clear leaves and debris out of the gutters, especially throughout summer. Gutter guard is one way to prevent matter from clogging up your gutters and becoming a fire hazard in summer.
Relocate flammable materials and wood piles
Timber dog kennels, old newspapers, crates, boxes and wood piles located around the home become fire hazards during bushfire. Tidy up any flammable materials located within that 20m zone, and relocate things like wood piles away from the house structure.
Ember-proof your building
A well-prepared home can survive a bushfire, but an ember that gets inside can destroy it well after the fire front has passed. Walk around, over and even under your home (if you can) to look for spaces an ember may enter during a bushfire. Look at your roof type and whether it is fully sealed, professionally seal external vents, review your chemical storage location, and seal any gaps under-floor and around windows. This CFS guide to property protection includes a helpful section on ember-proofing the home.
Test, repair and maintain pumps, sprinklers and water supply sources
A well-prepared home should have a ready supply of independent (non-mains) water and a method of pumping it to the house that doesn’t rely on electricity. Our team at Firewatch can talk you through the range of diesel-pumps on the market, along with permanently-installed hose reels and advice relating to home sprinkler systems. Test all of your home firefighting equipment in the lead up to the season, and do a run-through with everyone in the home who may need to use the equipment during a bushfire. (We recommend keeping laminated instructions near complex equipment like a pump, because it’s possible to forget directions in a high-pressure situation).
Practise your family Bushfire Survival Plan
A prepared and practised Bushfire Survival Plan will help you and your family and loved ones know what you will do if a bushfire starts near the home. It’s important to review and practise your plan every year. For more information about Bushfire Survival Plans visit the CFS website.
Prepare your Emergency Survival Pack
At Adelaide Hills Firewatch SA we stock a wide range of essential emergency equipment for your survival pack. From gloves, goggles, smoke masks, fire blankets, first aid kits and fire extinguishers to knapsacks to stow it all in. We recommend all Hills dwellers keep a survival knapsack somewhere handy in the home and ensure the whole family knows where it’s stored and how to use the equipment within it.
For CFS warnings, messages and updates download the Alert SA app. Note that this app has replaced the CFS FireApp from 2016. Alert SA is an all-hazard event and warning mobile phone all that ensures you are notified in the case of an emergency in the place you live, work or travel through. For more information about the switch from CFS FireApp to Alert SA, click here.
Are you bushfire ready?
The CFS website is filled with information to help you and your family be bushfire ready this summer. From a range of useful resources like fact sheets, to a list of Bushfire Safer Places, a tool to ‘test your Bushfire Readiness’ and daily Fire Danger Ratings, we recommend you spend the time familiarising yourself with the information on this site.
The team at Firewatch SA are accredited in portable fire protection and maintenance systems. With 29 years of experience volunteering with the CFS in the Adelaide Hills, Murray and his team are the people to talk to for all your bushfire and fire protection safety advice.