Property Protection

Protecting Your Property and Family From a Bushfire

The biggest single threat to lives, property and the environment in certain parts of the Capes Region, is from bushfires. There are many dwellings located on bush blocks or in parts of townships that would be highly vulnerable in the event of a bushfire. Given the large number of properties in this condition scattered across the Capes and summer weather conditions including thunder storms conducive to the ignition and rapid spread of fire, it is essential that landowners take appropriate steps to be fully prepared. The Victorian Royal Commission into the Black Saturday Bushfires in 2009 when 173 people were killed makes sobering reading and clearly demonstrates the need for proper preparation and hazard mitigation. There are a number of key steps that people in hazardous areas must consider or undertake.

* Most of the Capes Region has been classified as Bushfire Prone by the City of Busselton and DFES (Department of Fire and Emergency Services) – this acknowledges the area as high fire risk

* FESA have an excellent booklet – Prepare. Act. Survive. Download a copy from the DFES website, read and understand its contents, then prepare an action plan. Undertake some drills with your family so the plan can be tested, improved, and implemented without hesitation if necessary

* Remember that fire brigades may not be able to protect your house against bushfire as they may be busy elsewhere or not able to access your property

* Join your local Bushfire Ready Action Group. If there is none, arrange to start one or get to know your neighbours and share mobile numbers and other contact details. Prepare a list and arrange to call certain numbers to warn others if a fire occurs.

* Many properties have single or poor access and with heavy fuels in much of the region, evacuation is a high risk activity during a fire event. People should only stay and defend their property if they are fully prepared, experienced and physically and mentally capable of fire fighting. In most cases they should leave early for a safe haven if advised to do so by authorities or not

* Prepare a grab kit of valuables to take at a moment’s notice and keep in a secure place or fireproof safe

* Have land assessed before you buy it to determine what issues may exist, what work is required and what extra building costs may be incurred

* Join or get to know your local bushfire brigade. Invite them to your property to inspect work you have done and ask what else could be done to make it safer

* Ensure suitable access is available for fire fighting vehicles, for example driveways are to have a horizontal clearance of 6m and vertical clearance of 4m with turnarounds every 100m

* If you install a rooftop or under roof sprinkler system, locate the pump in a heat and fireproof enclosure (brick) with all exposed plumbing non-combustible. Run some drills with all family members on using the system. Show your local brigade and neighbours how to activate it. If possible set it up to remotely activate in case you are away when a fire occurs

* Install a fire pump and provide sufficient water supplies. Install taps at each corner of the dwelling and long 19mm hoses

* Keep your gutters and valleys free of leaves as these will easily ignite during an ember attack. Fit mesh (or surface tension fascia) to gutters. Use Rockwool strips to seal valleys and ridge caps to prevent ember entry
Written by John Evans