3 bush fire myths busted
In the last week alone, a young Victorian family has lost everything in a house fire after their son lit a piece of paper on the stove, a blaze broke containment lines and jumped over a creek in Northern NSW and record-breaking fire tornadoes have been reported overseas in America and Sweden.
With drought conditions at an all-time high and summer set to be a scorcher, the question you need to ask yourself is: Are you bushfire ready?
Even if your plan is to leave early, emergency services experts say the more you prepare your home, the more likely it will survive a bush fire or ember attack. A well-prepared property can also be easier for you or firefighters to defend and is less likely to put your neighbours’ homes at risk.
But first, the NSW Rural Fire Service would like to bust three myths.
1. MYTH I’ll be fine; the bush is a few streets away
FACT Most houses are burnt in bush fires because of ember attacks. Embers can cause fires many kilometres in front of the main fire and can start falling up to an hour before the fire arrives at your home. You need to make sure that your home is properly prepared to withstand ember attack.
2. MYTH Standing on my roof hosing it down with water will help?
FACT During a bush fire more injuries occur from people falling off rooves than from burns! Filling your gutters with water and hosing down your roof will help stop spot fires due to ember attack, but any hosing should be done from the ground.
3. MYTH There will always be a fire truck available to fight a bush fire threatening my home
FACT There will never be as many fire trucks as there are houses. Do not depend on a fire truck being available at your home.
Here’s how to ensure your home and property are bush fire ready:
1. Clean your gutters of leaves and twigs
3. Repair damaged or missing roof tiles
4. Install fine metal mesh screens on windows and doors
5. Fit seals around doors and windows to eliminate gaps
6. Enclose the areas under the house
7. Repair or cover gaps in external walls
8. Attach a fire sprinkler system to gutters
9. Keep lawns short and gardens well maintained
10. Cut back trees and shrubs overhanging buildings
11. Clean up fallen leaves, twigs and debris around the property
12. Have hoses long enough to reach around your house – I have 2 x 25m retractable Hoselink hose reels installed around our rural home because we don’t want to waste precious time untangling kinks and tangles if we come under ember attack)
13. If you have a pool, tank or dam, put a Static Water Supply (SWS) sign on your property entrance, so firefighters know where they can get water
14. Check fire alarms are working
15. Check and maintain adequate levels of home and contents insurance. Ensure it is up to date!
New rural fire division for Western Australia
Western Australia’s new Rural Fire Division, which was developed in response to the devastating 2016 Yarloop blaze, is one of the biggest changes to have happened to the state’s emergency services for 30 years. Part of the Department of Fire and Emergency Services, the new branch will “bring bushfire management and training under one umbrella and provide support to the broad range of organisations and individuals who play a role in bushfire prevention, preparedness, response and recovery.”
There are currently over 19,500 bush fire service volunteers protecting Australia’s largest state from bushfires, learning a range of skills which include:
- Personal and team safety
- Fire suppression methods
- Vehicle driving on and off road
- First aid
- Leadership and emergency management procedures
If you would like more information about becoming a Bush Fire Brigade Volunteer, take a look at this recruitment flyer.