Fireproofing rural homes

Fireproofing rural homes

JANUARY 2018 | David Claridge

SUMMER IS a great time of the year for BBQs and pools, but with the heat comes the risk of bushfires.

The 50th anniversary of the Black Tuesday bushfires passed in February 2017. The loss of 62 people, 900 injured and thousands left homeless after one terrible day should forever be a reminder of how bad conditions can get in Tasmania.

The St Helens fire in October demonstrated how dry and fire prone the East Coast currently is. Fire crews were working for weeks to stop the fire in its tracks and prevent any spot fires.

Planning ahead is the best thing you can do over the summer to protect your family and property, according to the Tasmania Fire Service. Community Development Offi‘cer, David Cleaver, suggests that people know what the weather is going to be like and act accordingly.

“Keeping your information up to date is the most important thing and knowing if there is bad weather coming up, follow the weather reports and the TFS website,” Mr Cleaver said.

“Important things to have in place are building a defendable space around your property, which includes keeping grass cut low and removing flammable items from around your house.

“Ember proofing your property is also important, embers can come before you can even see the fire and catch alight quite easily.”

Coordinator for Community Development, Peter Middleton, talks about the importance of people using the Bushfire Survival Plan – download available on the TFS website under ‘Bushfire: Prepare Act Survive’.

“It is a tool with prevention type activities people can use. It explains things that can trigger their plan, such as the fire danger rating, our bushfire alert system and what that all means, describing what a bushfire may be like,” he said.

“In the back of the book it has some templates, so you can develop your own written plan. It encourages people to know what their risk to bushfire is. From there, they can develop a unique plan for their situation.

“For fire prone areas there are community protection plans in place – Meander Area, Jackey’s Marsh and Golden Valley, for example – where safe areas have been identified.”

This reporter has been a member of a volunteer brigade for some time. I remember attending a bushfire near Rutherglen in March 2015. We could see the smoke once we left the station, and by the time we arrived the fire had jumped the Bass Highway. We tried to contain it.

On the other side of the road the fire was crowning (burning in the tree tops) heading towards Rutherglen. Firefighters deployed some defensive firefighting tactics and were able to stop it well before it reached the houses. I remember being across the lake, seeing Rutherglen on the right and the fire on the left. The back burn hit the main fire and made a junction zone where the fires increased in intensity and sent embers up into the sky. In the failing light of the day it looked both spectacular and scary at the same time. If the conditions are right fires are di‘fficult to control.

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David Claridge

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