Has My Prevention Work Been Completed?
To make your house safer during a bushfire there are a number of things you can do:
Burning debris is carried by strong winds that accompany bushfires. These sparks and embers may enter your home through small openings such as vents or may be large enough to break widows and ignite curtains and furniture etc. They may also settle on flammable material outside your home causing a small fire ('spot fire´) to start. If this fire happens to be on your wooden deck, doormat or woodpile, it may eventually grow large enough to destroy your home. Walk around your home and identify the potential problem areas:
All flammable material that is within 20 metres of your house should be removed. This includes removal of dead branches, fallen leaves and cutting long grass. On a slope greater ground clearance is desirable.
In order to reduce the threat to your house you should:
- Remove dry undergrowth and grass from around the home and buildings.
- Prepare a 20-metre fire protection zone around the home to reduce the danger from radiant heat and sparks.
- Establish a landscaped garden or vegetable garden, mow lawns, build wide paths, paving or driveways that can provide fuel breaks.
- Chemically treat the area around outbuildings and sheds to prevent the regrowth of vegetation.
- Cut back trees overhanging the roof and regularly remove leaves from the gutters.
- Remove flammable growth from around the base of trees.
- Prune lower tree limbs to provide a vertical firebreak to prevent ground fire spreading into trees.
- Provide space between trees and shrubs to remove the continuous line of vegetation to the house.
- Remove bark and wooden sleepers from areas in the garden near the house.
- Store flammable fuels and chemicals away from the house and secure in an enclosed shed.
- Clear all dry grass and bark mulch well away from the house.
To protect your house it is vital that you prevent sparks and burning material from entering through windows, under doors and/or under floor boards. This can be achieved by:
- Fitting metal fly wire mesh or solid screens to spark proof the windows, doors, ventilators and skylights.
- Close in all openings in eaves and under-floor areas.
- Sealing all gaps in the roof area along the ridge cap gutterline and fascia board.
- Extending wall cladding on buildings and sheds to the ground.
- Sealing the flute spaces at the fascia board with fibreglass insulation or scribed flat metal with corrugated iron roofs.
- Tiled roofs require an appropriate fire rated insulation (sarking) immediately below the tiles
Most homes ignite when sparks or burning embers blow under tiles and start burning roofing timbers or accumulated litter. Metal roofing offers more protection provided it is firmly secured and sealed around vents, skylights, fascias and roof caps.
Underfloor areas that are not enclosed allow sparks and embers to penetrate. If these areas are used to store timber, firewood, or other flammable materials, the risk is compounded. Make sure that underfloor areas are kept clear of flammable material during summer.
Crevices where embers can collect are potential ignition points. Cracks under doors, on window ledges, windows, or along verandas are particularly vulnerable. Vents into the house structure are also common entry points for sparks. They should be covered in fine wire mesh to prevent embers from getting into walls, roof cavity areas or through windows.
Further information is available in the fact sheet Preparing your Property.