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Protecting your home from bushfire

Steps you can take to make your home safe

You've seen the tragic images, houses consumed by flames, lives lost, communities destroyed. It doesn't just happen to other people. As a homeowner, you must realise that the threat of wildfire is real. When bushfire tore through areas of Perth, it takes homes with it. In recent years, the rural landscape has changed with urban development creeping deeper and deeper into forested areas. Consequently, more people build their dream homes nestled in the woods, not realising that they may have placed themselves directly in the path of a bushfire. protecting your home from bushfire

Fire is an inherent danger to having a home in the woods, but that doesn't mean you can't do something about it. In fact, you can do more than what you might think to protect your property and your home from the ravages of bushfire. First of all, it's up to you to be responsible for protecting your home from bushfire. As much as firefighters want to save every house, when there's a large fire, there may not be enough personnel and equipment to do the job. Conditions on your property could make it difficult or unsafe for firefighters to reach your home.Thats why a bushfire assessment and bushfire attack level report are so important. A home that survives a bushfire is no accident. You can help firefighters avoid having to red flag and bypass your property because it cannot be saved.

One of the most important things you can do is have a 30m building protection zone around your house. This defensible space provides enough distance between your home and the bushfire to enable your home to survive without extensive effort from either you or the firefighters. This space can make the difference between saving and losing your house.

How to setup a defensible space

Creating defensible space doesn't mean rebuilding, but preparations must begin Long before there's smoke on the horizon. trees should be pruned six to ten feet up from the ground to keep fire from climbing into the crowns, or tops of the trees. A crown fire can be fatal for your house. Grass, leaves, branches and other debris can provide a ladder for fire to climb. Eliminate this ladder fuel by removing brush beneath trees, trimming shrubs, and removing debris from under decks. Maintain this area of defensible space. Mow and water grass on a regular basis, and rake leaves, dead branches, and twigs. Clear a 10-foot space around propane tanks. Keep this space in gravel, rock, or short, well-watered grass.

What to clear and what to keep

Store firewood away from the house and out of the defensible space area. Use fire-resistant plants in landscaping around the house. Hardwood trees and shrubs with rock mulch are preferable. They should be well-spaced,10m apart, trimmed low, and cleared of dead vegetation underneath. Coniferous shrubs should be small and well-spaced. Trim all tree branches that hang over your house, especially near chimneys. Clear the roof and gutters of leaves, needles, and other debris. They can provide tinder for flying embers.

The most vulnerable part of your home is your roof

The roof is the most vulnerable part of your home to bushfire. Flying embers from a bushfire a mile away can land on your roof. If your roof does ignite, chances are very good that the rest of your home will follow. To avoid this situation, treat wood with a fire-resistant coating, Instal a spark arrestor on your chimney. Sparks from the chimney could ignite nearby trees. Enclose soffits and attic vents with a fine metal screening. Sparks or embers from a bushfire can enter the attic and set the house on fire. Consider metal, stucco, or brick siding materials when residing.

Other buildings on your property should be given the same considerations Screen under decks, porches, foundations, or other openings To prevent accumulation of leaves and needles. Sparks or embers that land in these areas can also set the house on fire. Remember, any structures attached to your house such as porches, decks, and fences should be considered part of the house. If constructed from flammable materials, these structures can act as fuel bridges to carry fire from the woods to your house. Other buildings on your property such as tool and storage sheds also need to be given the same considerations as those given to your house, especially if they are inside the house's defensible space.

Even something as simple as a sign can help

Accessibility to your home starts with good signage. Emergency vehicles have to be able to find your house in order to help you. Your house should have visible numbers on it, or fire numbers by your driveway. Numbers at least four inches high are recommended. Smoke and darkness can make it harder to find your address, so reflective materials should be used for the house numbers and street signs. Your driveway should be at least 12 feet wide, and overhead branches should be trimmed to a height of 14 feet to provide ample access for emergency vehicles. Residents of subdivisions with only one access point, including residents of homes in a cul-de-sac or at the end of a dead end street, could have problems evacuating during a wildfire.

Keep the road clear

If fire blocks the road, emergency equipment will not be able to reach these homes. If this is the situation where you live, you should contact your city officials and devise a plan for an emergency. One alternative may be creating an emergency fire exit road. Making sure your home is accessible to emergency vehicles is as important as any structural and property improvements you make. Oftentimes, when people buy prime wooded lots and proceed to build their dream homes, they don't realise that they'll have to maintain their forests. Without the necessary upkeep, their valuable property eventually turns into a hazard. Thinning your forest will help prevent this situation.

Always maintained the trees

I think it's really important that you manage your wooded property because of the disease problem you can get if one tree is diseased and it can go on to the next tree, or you could create a fire hazard. I think what was important to us is that the trees were getting so mature, they needed to be thinned out so that the strong ones could survive.

Remove all dead trees

Thick, overgrown woods pose a major fire threat. They can ignite easily, and the resulting fire can spread quickly with intense flames. Crowded trees compete for nutrients, weakening their defences against insects, such as bark beetles. Bark beetles attack the weakened trees. Infested trees need to be removed as soon as possible to protect surrounding trees. Dead and dying trees have less moisture. They ignite and spread fire more quickly, fire that can spread to your home. Thinning can also stop crown fires that jump from one treetop to another, which can then ignite the house. In short, if you don't manage the trees on your property, nature will through insects, disease, and fire. Thinning your woods has other benefits as well.

Working with your Neighbours

It gives the remaining trees and new growth room to grow. Thinning will also keep the value of your property intact. Neighbours should work together to coordinate thinning efforts in their community. A tree service might need to be hired . Their services can be expensive, however, many companies are willing to work out a deal with neighbourhoods. Neighbourhoods with a healthy forest today results in less maintenance tomorrow, and you can still keep the beauty and the feel of living in the woods without compromising the safety of your home.

All these tasks to make your home and property Safe from bushfire may seem daunting. one unsafe house can put a whole neighbourhood at risk, there must be involvement at a community level.

Road access and water tanks

Other community responsibilities include improving road access to your neighbourhood. If your neighbourhood lacks a permanent water supply, work together to instal alternative water sources such as dry hydrants. This special hydrant connects to a water source such as a stream or a lake. During a fire, a fire truck hooks up to it and sucks water from a source that otherwise would not be available. The possibility of wildfire cannot be ignored. We can't prevent all fires, but we can prepare our neighbourhoods to survive them with minimal damage.

Many people think, oh, it's just a bushfire and my structure, my garages, my whatever else I have on my property shouldn't be affected by it, but the reality is as many of us have seen what's happened in Perth and in other areas of the country. What some of these large, uncontrolled bushfire can do to your properties and how destructive they really can be.

Fire safety is a shared responsibility

Fire safety is a shared responsibility. It involves everyone. We have to strike a balance between community development and fire protection or our lives and property will remain vulnerable to wildfire. The ultimate goal is that your home will be able to protect itself because you've done the necessary work to make your home firewise.

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