Australia is a large and extremely diverse country with many different forests types; its low population to high land mass ratio with areas of rugged terrain offers little or no accessibility for the prevention of bushfires, or to gain quick access for the elimination of small start-up fires that can be caused by lightning strike. Our bush and the wildlife that resides within are unique making it a desirable location to build our homes amid this leafy and ancient land.
Building in and around the Australian bush does however create problems with access and the balance of environmental protection, however also the grave danger that most people expose themselves when choosing to building in a bush setting is the risk of exposure to bushfires.
There are many things that one can do to minimise this risk, however once a fire is out of control and fanned by a strong wind on a typical scorching hot summer day then there is little to be done other than to evacuate immediately. The New South Wales Rural Fire Service http://www.rfs.nsw.gov.au/ website is current and informative and anyone living in these high-risk areas should monitor this website constantly, particularly on days varying from Severe to Catastrophic.
Many things can be done to minimise your risk with the following maintenance and prevention tips.
1. Installing metal gutter guards to minimise leaf build up.
2. Keep your roof in good repair; particularly tiled roofs replace any damaged or missing tiles.
3. Eliminate gaps around doors and windows by fitting seals
4. Install Australian standard security screen doors and window screens that meet all the current bush fire attack levels .
5. Cut back overhanging trees and shrubs particularly gum trees.
6. Rake up all leaves and twigs and any other fuel debris.
7. Ensure hoses are in good repair and long enough to reach all the areas around your home.
If you have a pool in your backyard you can obtain from the New South Wales bushfire service a static water supply sign to indicate that you have water that can be used for emergency situations. A necessary commodity that is in sometimes in short supply during a bushfire emergency is water and many houses may have been saved if emergency services had knowledge of additional water sources.
Insurance in bushfire prone areas is imperative as is the maintenance of the currency and adequacy of said policy in the unfortunate event you have necessity to use it.
The most important consideration is that you have completed your Bush Fire Survival Plan; this can be found on the NSW Rural Fire Service website.