It is not quite into the fire season, but it is time to think about what you may need to do around your home to protect against an imminent fire or flying embers from a fire in the area.
A list of tasks to think about:
Making sure that dry, dead vegetation around the house and yard is maintained. The lawns should be kept short. If you have flammable materials lying around, either take them to the tip or store them in the correct manner.
Tiled rooves need checking for misplaced tiles where embers can get in.
Check the fire alarms in your home. Make sure they work and change the batteries.
If you live in a bushfire zone, you might want to think about what your fencing material is made of. This link to CSIRO will give you some ideas on the do’s and don’ts when considering fencing. If you already have a wooden fence, you can use an appropriate fire retardant to protect the existing fence.
Any overhanging trees and shrubs around the house are cut back and maintained.
Cleaning gutters to remove the leaves and twigs that are fuel for fires. Making sure the gutters and downpipes are clear against ember attack will protect you and any properties around you.
Have you checked your home and contents insurance lately? Revising this document is a good idea to ensure you are insured against natural disasters like bushfires. Check to see if you are covered for property damages from heat or soot, a fire might not actually attack you but the effects of a fire can also leave damage.
Do you have an emergency plan in case of a fire? If you live in a bushfire prone area, having an evacuation plan is crucial. Bushfires can become terrifying fast, with rapidly changing conditions. Making sure there is a plan in place, tailored to your specific needs will make it easier to keep calm and ensure the safety of your family and property.
Hiring professionals to complete tasks where personal injury is a high risk is good to consider. Another consideration using professionals is proof of completing the work for insurance companies. Gutter-Vac provide before and after photos and a roof and gutter report when completing a gutter clean for every job. Having the invoices to prove maintenance was carried out will help any insurance claim.
Thinking about using professionals to carry out these tasks? If you are, then there are others thinking on this too. The summer months are a busy time for maintenance companies, and they can be booked out months in advance. To avoid waiting for a booking or even missing out, think ahead and contact your professionals now.
Do you have a bush fire plan ready? You can prepare a plan a 5 minute bushfire plan by clicking the link, Bushfire Plan.
This link to The Tasmania Fire Service also has other features that can alert you to an current fires, any fire bans, what the current fire rating is, weather and TasAlerts. It is a good link to have saved in ready for the summer season.
The next thing to do is prepare your property against any ember attacks.
Get your gutters and roof clear of any debris. This dry litter is perfect kindling to start a fire from flying embers.
There is no time like the present to create your fire plan and prepare to clean up the spring debris in readiness for the summer season.
Bushfires can be many miles away and still affect communities.
The smoke is the most obvious indicator of fires. It can be very hazardous to asthmatics and people with respiratory issues. There are large particles that irritate the eyes, nose, throat and lungs which causes coughing and uneasy breathing and sore eyes. When there are finer particles entering deep in the lungs, much more damage is caused.
The wind brings the smoke and with the wind, fine embers from the fire, known as ember attack.
Burning debris, such as, leaves, twigs and bark, are carried with the wind and can land on dry material that can spark, creating another fire. In Australia, the bark on trees are considered the most dangerous source for ember attack. The Stringybark Eucalypt is well-known for dropping large sections of bark caught alight.
This is why it is so important to have a bushfire prevention plan in place. You need to be ready to prevent the embers attacking your home. Clear any dry, flammable materials, that are a fire hazard, away from your home; ie in your gutters, materials lying around the yard or dispose of any green waste from yard work. Store flammable chemicals according to code. Make sure your sprinkler system is maintained and working if you have one.
Summer is near and it is time to think about clearing up the debris from winter before it becomes dry and flammable.
When a fire is approaching and you property and family is under threat, often times, the garden hose will simply not make the grade at offering you the water you need to protect and in some cases defend you home from a fire.
Now is the time to be fire prepared and you fire protection systems should NEVER miss the list.
Here are top 7 suggestions to check or do:
Check and replace as required any broken hoses and fittings. When required, you want everything working.
If you have a fire pump, then make sure it has been serviced and is in full working order. Remember your power is likely to be cut in a fire situation so you will need a petrol or diesel-powered pump, sized to run your fire hoses. If you don’t have a pump, could this be a good investment?
Will you have the water supply when you need it? In the event of a fire, the mains water supplies are often diverted to high pressure fire services units/trucks, so not only do you need to consider the pressure of your water supply in such an event, but whether you will be able to access water at all. Consider your water supply such as water tanks.
Where are your hoses placed? Having access to your hoses and taps is essential when a fire is approaching. Don’t have just a single hose on one side of your property because you may not be able to access it when the time comes. Having hoses and taps at multiple locations will ensure having water when you need it most.
Do you have the correct nozzle fittings to your hose to be able to disperse water at a flow and area that will give the correct firefighting coverage?
Can everyone use your firefighting water systems? Too often during emergency situations, when a time comes where these systems are required to be used, the person who knows how to use them are not present. Don’t let a tragedy happen when all the right equipment was on hand for a good outcome, but it wasn’t used due to lack of know-how.
Do you have the additional equipment and resources to help your firefighting? Roof mounted sprinklers and blocking gutters and filling them with water is a great way to help defend and protect your property, even when you are evacuating. The question is, do you have the necessary equipment and resources to do these tasks when they are needed?
Of course, the best plan of action is to listen to the directives of your local fire service and evacuate when directed. Evacuation is the best plan, but in times when this is simply not possible, make sure you and your family are prepared to defend you home and your own personal safety.
Think Water specialises in system design, installation and servicing of everything water related. As your local water expert, they have the product knowledge and experience to assist you with services and advice about water supply and firefighting equipment.
If you believe you need to look at your firefighting systems or perhaps get the right one installed, contact your local Think Water expert.
Did you know excess dry leaves in your gutters can be compared to stacking tins of petrol on your roof in a bushfire?
If your home is not prepared, it can also pose an increased risk to your neighbour’s property.
We are still in the midst of the fire season in Queensland, it is important to stay vigilant about your bush fire preparation plan.
Who is most at risk in Brisbane and surrounds?
If your home is near an area of vegetation, or ‘green belt’ as the firefighters call it, you could be more at risk.
Areas such as this include The Gap, Mt Nebo, Mt Glorious, as well as locations further north of Brisbane. Vicinities surrounded by shrubbery and vegetation can prove to be very challenging landscapes for firefighters for a number of reasons.
Accessibility can be an obstacle in rural localities. Firefighters generally use their smaller 4WD vehicles to access rural areas. Unsealed roads will not accommodate the big tankers. Unsealed roads quickly turn to mud when they come into contact with water, and the big vehicles will become bogged.
Accessing a reliable water supply can also be difficult. Many homes in rural areas use off-grid water. This can prove to be a challenge as if the firefighters have to use the smaller vehicles; they can only hold a certain amount of water.
Bushfires are notoriously unpredictable, so the best way to prepare is to plan ahead, implementing as many preventative strategies as possible.
What should people do around their home to prepare?
The following points below are recommended by fire authorities:
Ensure there is easy entry and room for firefighting vehicles to access your property.
Make sure paths to your property are clear from combustible matter such as dead branches, dry leaves etc.
Invest in a hose that reaches all the way around the house.
Make sure your gutters are clean and free from debris that will act as fuel for flames in the event of a bushfire.
Trim overhanging trees.
Regularly mow your grass.
Make sure your house number can be easily seen by emergency services.
Consider planting fire resistant trees around your home. Certain trees are more prone to igniting than others and it is possible for embers or sparks from trees to travel large distances. Cyprus, pines, and eucalyptus for example contain flammable oils in their leaves that readily burn. While there are no ‘fire proof’ trees, you can look for species that contain moisture in their leaves. Avoid trees with stringy, rough bark that easily comes loose.
Use non-flammable mulches around the house such as gravel, pebbles and shells. Avoid using combustible woodchip mulches where possible near your house.
Review and practice your Bushfire Survival Plan regularly.
For further information on how to plan, the Queensland Government Rural Fire Service website is a valuable resource.
The good news is you can take steps to prepare for a bushfire and make your house less vulnerable to an ember attack.
What if there is a fire that ignites in your gutters?
Firstly, it is advisable to contact emergency services. Firies say if you are both PRACTISED and PREPARED, then you can get a hose onto it yourself from the ground. You need to wear long-sleeve clothing and protective gear. If you are not prepared and have not practiced a plan, fire authorities say to LEAVE. One of the best preventions is a clean gutter as if an ember was to land there, it may just self-extinguish – alleviating all worry.
Recently, Gutter-Vac Tasmania visited the Salmon Hatchery at
Wayatinah and Florentine. It was nice to see some of Tasmania’s beautiful
rivers and the Hydro Scheme running alongside the highway.
We stayed at Tarraleah, in the Doctors Annex. As we arrived on the Sunday night to be up bright and early for work on the Monday, we had time to have a wonder and take in some of the sights.
The hatcheries had quite a lot of gutters to be cleaned and the heights of the buildings varied. We had to battle the weather, from scorching sun, where it felt like the soles of our shoes would melt on the roof, to the wind and the rain.
Large sites often have issues that are not identified unless a specific task is being carried out. With us attending the two sites, we were able to single out issues that required attention.
Now that the site has had a full gutter clean, a maintenance plan has been set in place for us to attend every year. This will ensure they are ready for the fire season.
complied to all the induction requirements and supply the business with a SMWS for
work each time we visit the site. As we
have no height restrictions we can access any of the buildings on the site.
Do you have a business that needs a gutter cleaning maintenance in place?
We send reminders out every year to schedule the work when it is required. This work is not carried out without prior consent. We have all our insurances in place and all staff is trained at heights.