BE FIRE SAFE: Something as simple as cleaning your gutters of leaves and twigs can help protect your home against ember attack.
BE FIRE SAFE: Something as simple as cleaning your gutters of leaves and twigs can help protect your home against ember attack.

How to prepare your home for bush fire

THE Northern Rivers is preparing for what experts are calling will be a "horror" bush fire season.

More than 82 homes have been lost this year alone in bush fires near Tabulam, Drake, Rappville and the recent blaze at Myall Creek.

With the Myall Creek and Mount Nardi bush fires continuing to threaten properties, NSW Rural Fire Service Commissioner Shane Fitzsimmons said firefighters are "preparing for the potential for more properties to be lost".

With dangerous fire conditions predicted tomorrow, there are some things residents can do to help give their home the chance to survive a bush fire.

NSW RFS spokesman Inspector Ben Shepherd said a well prepared home is more likely to survive a bush fire.

He said even if your plan is to leave early, the more you prepare your home, the more likely it will survive a bush fire or ember attack.

"A well prepared home can also be easier for you or firefighters to defend, and is less likely to put your neighbours' homes at risk," Insp Shepherd said.

"A well prepared home will also give you more protection if a fire threatens suddenly and you cannot leave."

Insp Shepherd said all residents should carry out these simple tasks now, and not to leave them until last minute.

"Don't wait for a bush fire to threaten your home," he said.

"If a bush fire is nearby, you won't have time to do these things. Prepare your home now ahead of summer."

Here are some basic maintenance tips to prepare your property for bush fire:

  • Clean your gutters of leaves and twigs
  • Install metal gutter guards
  • Repair damaged or missing tiles on the roof
  • Install fine metal mesh screens on windows and doors
  • Fit seals around doors and windows to eliminate gaps
  • Enclose the areas under the house
  • Repair or cover gaps in external walls
  • Attach a fire sprinkler system to gutters
  • Keep lawns short and gardens well maintained
  • Cut back trees and shrubs overhanging buildings
  • Clean up fallen leaves, twigs and debris around the property
  • Have hoses long enough to reach around your house
  • 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
  • Check and maintain adequate levels of home and contents insurance. Ensure it is up to date.

With a statewide emergency declared for the coming days, the RFS said there is the potential for MANY fires to start anywhere at any time across the Northern Rivers. Even if you live on the edge of Lismore in grassland or have a home on the coast, the RFS are warning there is the potential a fire could start ANYWHERE, so there's no 'one size fits all' fire danger for the region.

The RFS website has a heap of useful info, including what kind of fire conditions you could expect from a fire near your property:

Homes surrounded by bush:
• Fires in dense bushland can be very hot, intense and fast moving
• Burning embers may be blown from the bush, landing on your property and starting spot fires or setting fire to your home
• Embers may land for many hours even after the main fire front has passed
• Smoke and fire may affect driveways or homes, making it difficult to leave
• The radiant heat from a fire nearby may set fire to your home or surrounds

Bush or grasslands meet built-up areas such as suburbs:
• Fires can spread quickly from parks and reserves, threatening your home, fences or gardens
• Thick smoke from the fire will make it difficult to see or breathe
• Even if you live a few streets back from the bush, you are at risk from ember attack
• Burning embers can travel through the air, setting fire to homes a few streets back from the bush

Homes close to grassland or paddocks:
• Grass fires can start easily and spread quickly, not only destroying homes but also crops and livelihoods
• Grass fires are very hot and can produce huge amounts of heat which can kill anyone out in the open
• As grass dries out or cures, it can catch fire more easily
• Fires in tall grass will have tall flames that may burn across trails, roads or fire breaks
• Grass fires can move much faster than a bush fire, catching people off guard

Coastal homes:
• Burning scrub or coastal heath can be very hot and burn very quickly
• Fires burning in coastal areas can reach homes quickly
• Access may be difficult, especially if roads in the area are busy or blocked
• Burning embers may be blown from the fire towards your home, starting spot fires

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