01 AM I AT RISK? Know your bushfire risk Where do you live? Bushfires occur where suburbs meet the bush, in urban areas where houses have grassland or bush around them and in rural and remote areas. You don‟t have to live in the bush to be at risk of bushfires. Suburban homes can also be destroyed. Victoria is one of the most fire-prone areas in the world and understanding your level of risk is the first step in developing your Bushfire Survival Plan. To find out if you live in one of the 52 identified highest risk bushfire areas across Victoria, contact the Victorian Bushfire Information Line on 1800 240 667. Living outside these areas does not mean you are not at risk and you should still read this section of the kit. ACTION Mark or tick the box if you live close to: National park State park Paddocks Grassland Forest Large parks or reserves Coast. If you ticked a box, your area is at risk of bushfire. Remember, bushfires can happen anywhere in Victoria and can quickly threaten lives and property ACTION You should: Prepare a Bushfire Survival Plan using the guide in this kit Decide now what you are going to do on fire risk days. What is an ember? Embers are small burning twigs and leaves. Ember attack occurs when these twigs and leaves carried by the wind land on a house or around houses. If gutters go unchecked, embers can land on top of debris and set fire to your home. Ember attack is the most common way houses catch fire during bushfires and can happen before, during and after the bushfire. What creates bushfire risk? Vegetation Weather Topography Vegetation The amount and type of vegetation around your home, along with local terrain including hills and valleys, may affect the intensity of a bushfire. A bushfire in a forest will be very hot yet may not move quickly, while a fire in grassland may be less intense but will burn very quickly. Bushfires in coastal scrub burn very hot yet do not move as fast as a grass fire. While all these bushfires may burn differently, they all have the potential to claim lives and destroy property. Weather Weather conditions such as extreme heat, gusting winds and low rainfall dramatically increase the level of bushfire risk across Victoria. Drought dries vegetation making it easier to burn. The combination of drought with hot, dry and windy days means bushfires can quickly become uncontrollable, placing lives and property at risk. Topography As well as vegetation, population density and vehicle access also contribute to your level of risk. Poor road access, such as narrow streets, may make it difficult for firetrucks to get in. It may also make it difficult for residents to leave. Am I at Risk? You live in a residential suburb or town The blocks of land are small The houses are close together There are large open spaces. For example, parks, golf courses. You may be at risk of bushfire. What can happen during a bushfire? A bushfire can burn down buildings People can get trapped in the area A fire in a park or reserve can quickly spread to timber fences and gardens Embers can fall close to your house or on your house. This can start a new fire Strong winds can bring embers from far away Fires can jump from one house to the next house. You live on the outskirts of a town or city You live close to a town and your property is close to Paddocks Grassland Bush or Forest. For example: Dandenong Ranges Kinglake Ranges Macedon Ranges Parts of the Mornington Peninsula. Your bushfire risk is extreme. What can happen during a bushfire? Scrub, forest and grass can catch fire Fire can jump from one house to the next house There is a high risk of ember attack People can get trapped in the area. You live close to grass and paddocks There is grassland and paddocks around you You might live: On a farm In a small town In a suburb. Your bushfire risk is very high. What can happen during a bushfire? Dry and brown grass can catch fire Grass more than 10 centimetres tall can catch fire Grassfire can start early in the day Grassfire moves very quickly. You live close to a forest There are different types of forests: Tall forest Trees are over 30 metres tall It is difficult to see and walk through. The bushfire risk is extreme. Medium forest Trees are less than 30 metres tall Easier to see through. The bushfire risk is high. Low forest Trees are less than 10 metres tall Easy to see through and walk through Bushfires could be less intense. There is a bushfire risk. Woodland Open forest Big spaces between trees Easy to see and walk through Bushfires could be less intense. There is a bushfire risk. What can happen during a bushfire? Bushfires will be different in the different types of forest. Bushfires in forests: Can be hot and intense Make many embers Are dangerous to houses and people. You live close to the coast You live close to scrub or heath The scrub is up to six metres tall. Your bushfire risk is high. What can happen during a bushfire? Fire is very hot Fire moves fast Fire gets to houses quickly There will be a lot of embers Strong winds push fires from far away. 02 PREPARING YOUR PROPERTY Make your home bushfire ready Everyone in Victoria who lives near bush, grassland or the coast needs to prepare their property for bushfire. Even if your plan is to leave early on fire risk days, you need to prepare your property. A well-prepared house with adequate defendable space has a greater chance of surviving a bushfire. However, on Code Red fire risk days, homes are not designed or constructed to withstand fires in these conditions. You also need to consider the materials that your house is constructed with. The closer you are to the bush, the less defendable space you have and the more you need to improve the fire resistant properties of your house. Information to guide you on construction and renovation can be found on the Building Commission’s website www.buildingcommission.com.au Fire behaviour Every fire is different. Understanding how a fire behaves will help you to understand how to prepare your property. Bushfires are influenced by Vegetation (fuel) Terrain Weather conditions Vegetation (fuel) For example: Grass can burn early and quickly on days of risk Types of scrub and trees drop leaves and twigs on the ground around them which, as fine fuels, give off far more heat when they burn Bark on trees, when fibrous and dry can result in other fuels above the bark being sparked by flames from a fire Dry branches, twigs and leaves and other fine fuels found on the ground can also burn easily. Vegetation and defendable space Vegetation includes all the plants and foliage around your home. By managing the vegetation around your property you can create some space around your home that will reduce bushfire intensity. This is known as defendable space. Defendable space helps protect your house from flames and radiant heat. You need to look after vegetation around your house (for example, grass, plants and dry leaves) to maintain the space. Remember, seek shelter if a bushfire passes through your property. Defendable space does not protect you from radiant heat. Terrain Fires burning uphill A fire will burn faster uphill. This is because the flames can reach more unburnt fuel in front of the fire. As a general rule, for every 10˚ slope, the fire will double its speed as it travels uphill. For example, if a fire is travelling at five kilometres an hour along flat ground and it hits a 10˚ slope it will double in speed to 10 kilometres an hour up that hill. Fires burning downhill The opposite applies to a fire travelling downhill. The flames reach less fuel, and less radiant heat pre-heats the fuel in front of the fire. For every 10˚ of downhill slope, the fire will halve its speed. Weather conditions Bushfires often start on hot, dry and windy days. As the wind strengthens a fire can burn hotter because the wind pushes the flames into unburnt fuel. The wind influences the: Speed at which a fire spreads Direction in which a fire travels and the size of the fire front Intensity of a fire by providing more oxygen Likelihood of spotting – burning pieces of leaves, twigs and bark (embers) are carried ahead of the fire by winds, causing new fires to ignite. These are known as spot fires. A string of hot days will dry out vegetation making it easier to burn. This can be made even worse by underlying drought conditions. The drier the vegetation the easier it will burn. A bushfire spreads as a result of burning embers (see page 4 of the Am I At Risk? section of this kit), radiant heat and direct flame contact. How radiant heat and direct flame contact ignite houses The heat that radiates from a bushfire is very intense. Radiant heat can ignite exposed surfaces without direct flame or even ember contact. Radiant heat can also crack or break windows, allowing embers to enter a building. Plastics such as wall cladding can distort or melt, exposing timber framing. Radiant heat is extremely dangerous to people if they are unprotected by a building or shelter. The distance between the fire and the house will determine how much direct flame contact and/or radiant heat the house is subjected to. If the distance from the fire is doubled, the radiant heat load on the building can be reduced up to four times. The chance of direct flame contacting a house is increased when vegetation close to a house is ignited and winds bend the flames closer toward the ground. You can greatly reduce radiant heat and direct flame contact to your house by carefully managing the vegetation around your home. Property preparation You can reduce the impact of bushfire on your home by preparing your property. These preparations must begin well before the bushfire season. You should prepare your property even if your plan is to leave early on days of fire risk. This will give your house a greater chance of surviving a bushfire. You will have to consider: 1. If you have adequate defendable space and how you will manage vegetation 2. How your house is best maintained and what improvements can be made 3. If your home is constructed or modified to withstand a bushfire. ACTION Read more about radiant heat on page 63 of the Defending Your Property section of this kit. 1. Managing vegetation – Defendable space ACTION Complete the Household Bushfire Self Assessment Tool to determine the defendable space requirements for your property. There is a workbook version of the tool in Section 04 of this kit or visit www.cfa.vic.gov.au You can also request a free of charge site visit from CFA to help understand your level of risk. For more information visit www.cfa.vic.gov.au or call 1800 240 667 As a general rule you may need much more defendable space if there is dense forest all around you. If you are surrounded by grass or manicured gardens you will need less. How to get your defendable space ready Your garden Cut tree branches that hang over your house Do not use plant mulch on your garden (use pebbles or rocks) Cut the grass Get rid of material that can catch fire (for example, dry grass, leaves, twigs) Keep woodpiles away from your house. Do you have lawn or grass and landscaped gardens? You need a 10 metre space around your home. This is known as the inner zone. Shrubs must be less than one metre Do not have shrubs next to or under windows Grass should be less than 10 centimetres high Do not have tree branches in the 10 metre space The 10/30 right Under the 10/30 right, no planning permit is required to make bushfire preparations around your home if you own your property and live outside the metropolitan area. (The 10/30 right does not apply in all councils and permits may still be required. Please check with your local council for details.) The new planning exemptions give residents who own their property in certain areas the right to: Remove, destroy or lop any vegetation within 10 metres of a building used for accommodation Remove, destroy or lop any vegetation, except for trees (ie. ground fuel), within 30 metres of a building used for accommodation Remove, destroy or lop any vegetation for a combined maximum width of four metres either side of boundary fences. You need to have prior written permission from the landowner for clearance on their side of the fence. You might need to look after the plants and trees up to 100 metres from your property. This is known as the outer zone. For example, Take out half the shrubs Keep grass short Make space between plants and trees. Keep in mind that mature trees can help shield against radiant heat and embers and can play a useful role in the protection of your home against bushfires. Managing vegetation Managing the vegetation around your home has three main purposes: To help you and your home survive the passage of the fire front To reduce the chance of direct flame contact and radiant heat igniting your home To help you protect your home from ember attack. Whatever the type of vegetation that surrounds your home, you need to consider how it will burn during a bushfire. In general: Homes located in a dense forest are more likely to experience high intensity fires Homes located in more open country may experience lower intensity, but fast moving, grass fires If you live in a rural environment, also consider other property assets such as sheds or fences that you want to protect. Using the layout of your property Fire always follows a path where fuel is located. As well as managing the vegetation in the 10 metres around your home and further out around your property also consider: Fire does not spread easily over low-fuel areas. Driveways, pools, tennis courts, cultivated soil or gravelled areas, mown lawns, grazed paddocks, dams and natural water features can help reduce fire intensity When planning your fuel management, protect streamside vegetation and wetlands to help prevent sedimentation and protect habitat. These sites may be damp and less fire-prone and may not present a hazard. Trees and bushfire Trees are not the only threat to property during a bushfire. The fire front is often carried by undergrowth, such as shrubs and tall grasses. However loose, flaky or ribbon bark can contribute to ember attack. Limit the ability of fire to spread into tree tops What is growing under your trees? Consider how easily fire might be able to spread from the ground into the tree tops. Fine fuels that are continuous from ground to treetop (known as ladder fuels) can assist the spread of fire from the ground up into the treetops. You can reduce fuel ladders by: Pruning shrubs so that their tops are well away from the lower branches of trees Pruning the lower branches of shrubs to separate the foliage from the surface fuels underneath Reducing accumulated debris such as loose flaky bark, dead twigs, leaves or needles from within the branches of plants. Lawns and grass Grass needs to be kept less than 100 millimetres high. Over that height you risk it becoming a fuel ladder and sending flames to shrubs You don‟t need to cut green lawns any shorter than 50 millimetres otherwise you risk causing the grass to dry out Lawns between 50 millimetres – 100 millimeters in height shade the root zone, retain moisture, reduce evaporation rates and thereby reduce water consumption. Remove weeds Weeds are commonly found in residential bushland areas where they contribute significantly to bushfire risk. Give priority to removing and controlling them. Your council can help you identify weeds in your local area and provide ideas on how to remove them. Mulching Fine-based mulch such as wood chips or pea straw is a fine fuel and can ignite during ember attack. It is extremely dangerous if used within a 10 metre radius of your home, particularly if used under windows. Instead: Use mulch alternatives such as pebbles, sand or rocks that are not flammable Weed matting, old carpet cut to fit around individual plants secured and fully covered with rocks, pebbles or soil also work well to retain soil moisture in garden beds Mulch your garden immediately after the fire season to allow it to break down over winter. Decomposed mulch will still provide good moisture retention during summer, and is less likely to ignite than more recently laid mulch If plant-based mulch is still dry at the beginning of the fire season, keep it wetted down or cover it with soil or sand during the fire season. Burning off and fire restrictions Burning off dried up fine fuels and cutting back vegetation is one way to prepare your property. If you are planning to burn off you must do so well before the fire restrictions come into force. For more information visit www.cfa.vic.gov.au Plant selection When planning your garden and property, consider the types of plants you use. No plant is completely fire-resistant; some are more flammable than others, but given the right conditions all plants will burn. Your local council and/or the Department of Sustainability and Environment can provide information to help you select plants that are suitable for your local environment. For more information visit www.dse.vic.gov.au 2. House maintenance and improvements Roofs, windows, doors and decks The following table identifies some of the key risk areas and tips on how you can help protect your home and surrounding buildings from ember attack. Target Area Treatment Options Comment Roof Sarking (reflective non-combustible Sarking is an effective treatment to prevent sheeting) embers from entering through your roof. Gaps in the roof pose a Unless installed at construction stage this high risk to ember can become very expensive. penetration Gap sealing by using compressed This can be a cheap and effective solution for mineral wool insulation existing homes. Careful installation is required to ensure all gaps are sealed. Sealing gaps is an effective defence against burning embers. Bushfire sprinklers Sprinklers may help protect your house but have limitations. All openings on the roof must be protected for the duration of the ember attack. Sarking or gap sealing can be more effective. Windows Maintenance of window sills Embers lodging on combustible window sills pose a high risk. Maintain paint on window Open and unscreened sills so there is no flaking paint. windows pose an extreme risk Screened windows and sills Installing wire mesh screens (not aluminum) with 1.5 millimetre holes over both the window and frame can prevent embers touching the glass or timber. This can also be an effective method for reflecting radiant heat. Seal gaps around window frames This is an effective treatment for existing metal window frames. The sealant should be a fire retardant product. Sprinklers Sprinklers may help protect your house but have limitations. You also need to ensure that full coverage of the window and frame is achieved. Shutters Installing shutters over both the window and frame will protect windows from cracking from flying embers. Doors Non-combustible door sill Replacing combustible door sills with a non-combustible product will reduce the Open and unscreened chance of an ember igniting. doors pose an extreme risk. Embers lodging on combustible door sills Screened doors Installing metal screen doors over timber and gaps around door doors will reduce the chance of an ember frames pose a high risk. igniting the door. Seal gaps around door frames If the door is non-combustible then sealing the gaps around the door will prevent embers from entering into your home. Sprinklers Sprinklers may help protect your house but have limitations. You also need to ensure full coverage of the door and frame. Decks Non-combustible decking materials Non-combustible decking material won‟t burn. Use concrete stumps, metal framing Embers lodging on and fire retardant treated timber. decks pose a very high risk of ignition Separation from the dwelling to If the deck is built with combustible material, prevent fire spread non-combustible material should be placed between the deck and the house. This will reduce the possibility of the fire spread occurring between the deck and the house. Construct with gaps between decking Leaving gaps between the decking timbers materials will allow most embers to fall through. However, there is still a possibility of embers igniting at timber junction points. Ensure there is no fuel under the decking and that you have access to put out any spot fires underneath. Sprinklers Sprinklers may help protect your house but have limitations. You also need to ensure that full coverage of the decking is achieved. The other protection for windows that can be considered is toughened glass. This will help the windows to withstand higher amounts of radiant heat. 3. Your home’s structure and building design To reduce the impact of embers on your home there are some important building improvements that are recommended. These measures will assist in ember proofing your house, making it more difficult for embers to enter the house or burn against the house. The number of improvements will depend on the type of house you have. Research shows there are areas around your home that can contribute more to the overall bushfire risk than others. These include decks, windows, doors and roof areas. Anywhere embers can lodge or enter your house can start a fire. Is your house above-ground on stumps or on a concrete slab? Do you have a timber deck or verandah? Protect underfloor spaces with non-combustible sheeting or metal mesh. This will prevent embers from landing under the house and starting small spot fires. Remove any combustible materials stored beneath the floor. Is your house constructed from bricks, timber, cladding or a mixture? Roughly sawn timber or badly maintained brick work can catch embers. Ensure any external timber cladding is regularly maintained and all gaps are sealed. Seal or repair any holes, cracks or damage to flooring and walls. Cover all external vents with metal mesh (not aluminium) and keep clear of debris to prevent embers from entering your home. Are your window and door frames well sealed? Place weather stripping around the inside of doors and windows to eliminate any gaps. Do you have any skylights or evaporative coolers? Make non-combustible fire screens to cover external skylights. Protect evaporative coolers with metal mesh screens. You will need to check with your evaporative cooler supplier to ensure the performance of the system is not compromised by installing the mesh. By sealing all gaps around your house and roof, or installing wire mesh around larger areas that cannot be sealed, you will greatly reduce the risk of embers entering your house. New standard for the construction of houses in response to bushfire risk Following the 2009 bushfires the Victorian Government brought forward the introduction of the new Australian Standard AS3959- 2009 – Design and construction of buildings in bushfire prone areas. This new standard will improve the defendability and resilience of homes at risk of bushfire. The new building standard currently applies to all new homes to be built in Victoria. New buildings across Victoria must now be assessed for bushfire attack level (BAL) rating. The BAL is determined by a number of factors including aspect, slope and the proximity and type of vegetation at the site. Information about the Australian Standard is available from the Building Commission website www.buildingcommission.com.au For more information about the construction of new homes or the modification of existing homes please: Contact your local council planning or building department for further information See the CFA publication, Building in a Wildfire Management Overlay Applicant’s Workbook 2010. It is a guide to obtaining the necessary approvals. The Applicant‟s Kit is available on the CFA website www.cfa.vic.gov.au Insurance cover ACTION As part of your preparation, check that you have adequate home and contents insurance. Fire and the environment Vegetation management outside your property Private landholders must always obtain permission from their local council (or VicRoads for most main roads) for any works on roadsides, including fire management and planting. Local residents do not need a permit to remove fallen wood from roadside areas scheduled for burns within two weeks of a planned burn. DSE and Parks Victoria may undertake planned burns and build fuel breaks to manage vegetation on public land. A fuelbreak is a strip of land where vegetation has been reduced or removed. Environmentally friendly ways of managing your fire safety Identify the environmental assets that you would like to protect from fire or fuel reduction. These may include waterways, erosion- prone soils, shrubs that provide screening or bird habitat, hollow trees that provide nesting sites, rare species or bushland that you have regenerated. Design your fire management using the following environmental management principles: Where practical, avoid damaging the environment, consider things you can do to help keep embers from entering your buildings before you consider vegetation removal Reduce the fuels by methods that avoid exposing the soil and encouraging weed growth. Consider raking and slashing fuels Offset or compensate changes to the natural environment by replacing vegetation removed with vegetation of the same type and quality elsewhere on your land. Seek appropriate advice on managing your soil, vegetation and waterways from your local council or DSE. Using fire The use of fire, whether for ecological or fuel reduction purposes, is a complex and specialist tool. You should seek advice from your local council, CFA Regional Office or local Department of Sustainability (DSE) office. 03 LEAVING EARLY Prepare and act early to survive Bushfires in Victoria Victoria is one of the most fire-prone areas in the world. Planning ahead can save you and your family from being killed by fire. If you live or holiday in a high risk bushfire area (heavily forested areas, coastal areas with lots of scrub, thick bush or long, dry grass) then you must have a Bushfire Survival Plan. To find out you if you live in one of the 52 identified highest risk bushfire areas across Victoria, contact the Victorian Bushfire Information Line on 1800 240 667. Living outside these areas does not mean you are not at risk and you should still read and complete the Am I at Risk? section of this kit. Leaving early If you are in a high risk bushfire area, the safest option is to leave early on days of fire risk. Identify a place where you will go on these days – for example, regional urban areas and larger towns. You need a Bushfire Survival Plan if you plan to leave. You need to have made a decision about when you will leave, where you will go, how you will get there, when you will return and what you will do if you can‟t leave. ACTION Decide now what you are going to do on fire risk days – it could save your life. See the guides at the back of this FireReady Kit to help you write your plan. ACTION Familiarise yourself with the Fire Danger Ratings and associated advice at the front of this FireReady Kit. Why should you leave? You are on your own. Defending a house requires at least two able-bodied, fit and determined adults You know you cannot defend your property. For example, you do not have the right equipment or you are sick There are children, older people or people with special needs or disability in the house You are not physically or mentally prepared. Where can you go on fire risk days? Family or friends in a low fire risk area A place of relative safety – for example a shopping complex or central business district of a large regional centre. Preparing to leave You need a Bushfire Survival Plan even if you plan to leave early. Make a decision about when you will leave, where you will go, how you will get there, when you will return and what you will do if you can‟t leave. What to take with you A relocation kit of things to take with you. For example, Food and water Wool blankets Medicine Toiletries Mobile phone and charger Contact information. For example, doctor, council, power companies Important information. For example, passport, will, photos, jewellery. How will you get there? Plan how you will reach your destination. Identify a route Identify alternative routes if that route is blocked Organise transport Leave early and it will be easier to leave. Before you leave There are things you can do around your property before you leave that may minimise damage to your home in the event of a fire. Close all doors and windows Move doormats and outdoor furniture away from the house Block the downpipes and fill the gutters with water Move animals to large paddocks with short grass Turn off the gas supply Leave the front gate open. Your important information Keep your important items and information in a safe place during the bushfire season. Scan important information and photos and store them on a CD or memory stick. Practise how to pack the car Make sure It is quick and easy to pack Everything fits. Remember to leave space for your pets. Your trigger to leave The safest option is to leave high risk bushfire areas the night before or early on Code Red days. Do not wait and see. On Code Red days, know your trigger. Make a decision about: When you will leave Where you will go How will you get there When you will return What you will do if you cannot leave. On Extreme days, consider staying with your property only if you are prepared to the highest level. This means your home needs to be situated and constructed or modified to withstand a bushfire*, you are well-prepared and you can actively defend your home if a fire starts. If you are not prepared to the highest level, leaving high risk bushfire areas early in the day is your safest option. On Severe days, well-prepared homes that are actively defended can provide safety. Check your Bushfire Survival Plan. *To learn more about specially designed homes visit www.cfa.vic.gov.au Alert messages Be aware of local conditions and seek information by listening to ABC Local Radio, commercial radio stations or watching SKY News TV, go to www.cfa.vic.gov.au or call the VBIL on 1800 240 667. You may also get an alert sent to your mobile phone or landline based on its billing address. There are three types of alert messages: Advice – a fire has started – there is no immediate danger; general information to keep you up-to-date with developments. Watch and act – a fire is approaching you, conditions are changing; you need to start taking action now to protect your life and your family. Emergency warning – you are in danger and need to take action immediately. You will be impacted by fire. This messa ge will usually be preceded by an emergency warning signal broadcast over the radio. A warning might not say your town or suburb name. Listen for fire warnings about towns or suburbs near you. Keep a map of your local area. You can look at the map to see where fire is. If you are travelling through Victoria, you need to monitor conditions. Reconsider visiting high risk bushfire areas on fire risk days. Do not wait for a fire warning. Bushfires can start with no warning. While CFA will do its best to provide official warnings, you should not wait to receive a warning to leave. Bushfires can threaten lives and homes within minutes. Just because you don’t receive a warning, does not mean there isn’t a threat, and do not expect a firetruck. Have a back-up plan CFA recommends you identify safer houses in your street so that you know where to go if you are caught by a bushfire. These houses will need to be well-prepared and have two or more able-bodied adults actively defending them. Talk to your neighbours and plan together. Find out all the places you could go during a bushfire. For example, A Neighbourhood Safer Place (see page 26) List any well-prepared houses or buildings in your area that could be a safer place to shelter in a bushfire if you are caught out Other shelter options may include places such as sport ovals, ploughed paddocks, water bodies, town streets and shopping strips Have somewhere to shelter on your property if it‟s unsafe to leave. Being caught by a bushfire is an extremely dangerous situation and you must seek shelter from radiant heat in the most well-prepared building on your property. If leaving when there are signs of fire in your area, exercise extreme caution. Driving during a bushfire is a last resort. A drive that will normally take five minutes may take two hours in the event of a fire. It may become difficult to leave because road conditions will be dangerous. There may be road closures, smoke, fallen trees and embers. Safety in the car Cars are a very dangerous place to be during a bushfire as they offer very little protection from radiant heat. If you get caught on the road, this is a very dangerous situation. To increase your protection from radiant heat if caught in your car: Park behind a solid structure to block as much heat as you can. If this is not possible, then pull over to the side of the road into a clear area, well away from debris that may ignite Wind up your car windows, close the vents, put on your hazard lights and headlights, leave the engine running and air conditioning on recirculate Get down as low as possible below window level Cover up with a woollen blanket until the fire front passes. If you have water, drink it Get out of the car once the fire has gone. Sharing your Bushfire Survival Plan It is a good idea to share the details of your Bushfire Survival Plan with family, friends and neighbours. Doing so will save everyone a lot of distress when there is a bushfire as they will know that you are prepared, and know where to find you. Don‟t forget to call family, friends and neighbours to let them know where you have relocated. Do you have all the phone numbers you‟re going to need listed in your mobile phone? As an added safeguard, write the numbers down elsewhere in case you lose your phone or don‟t have it with you on the day. Remember to update everyone about any changes to your agreed plan of action. Make sure your plan is flexible to account for different situations such as weekends and school holidays. Think about who wil l be at home if a fire risk day occurs on a weekday, a weekend or a public holiday. How will this impact on your ability to put your Bushfire Survival Plan into action. What if your children are at school? Many bushfires start late in the afternoon. What will you do if you have visitors s taying with you? Will any family members be away on business or holiday? Also make sure you revise your plan whenever your circumstances change. Neighbourhood Safer Places Neighbourhood Safer Places (NSPs) are places of last resort when other plans have failed. They are designed to provide some protection from direct flame and radiant heat They should not be used as places to relocate when leaving early They are not relief centres – there are limited facilities and no support or services provided. You need to know beforehand where these are located. Not all towns will have a Neighbourhood Safer Place. To find out where these are located visit www.cfa.vic.gov.au Know when it is safe to return home Check with police, fire authorities and your local emergency services before trying to go home. Even if the fire has been controlled, there may be other safety issues that you are unaware of such as fallen trees, disruptions to essential services or potential crime scenes that may affect your ability to return home. Bushfire education Each summer CFA runs education programs to help residents prepare and plan for their safety. These are delivered free of charge in high risk bushfire areas. The two programs are FireReady Victoria and Community Fireguard. FireReady Victoria FireReady Victoria meetings are held in local halls in areas from October until the end of the fire season. Meetings take about 1.5 hours and provide information on local risk, fire behaviour, personal survival, house survival and what actions you can take to prepare yourself and your property. A calendar of activities showing meeting locations is advertised through pamphlets, local newspapers, sign boards and on CFA‟s website. Community Fireguard Community Fireguard encourages residents to work together to improve bushfire safety. Community Fireguard groups are formed when residents of a local area choose to participate in the program. Groups are made up of neighbours or residents living in a shared bushfire risk environment. Community Fireguard program The Community Fireguard program has four main sessions: Introduction to the program and fire behaviour Understanding personal survival Understanding house survival Developing Bushfire Survival Plans. As part of these sessions, groups can go on street or property walks to help them identify risks and assess bushfire safety. Another key activity is to look at available fire protection equipment. Importantly, the program is tailored for individual streets and properties. Most groups will cover the core information in four to five meetings over 12 months. However groups vary in experience and understanding so meetings are planned to meet the needs of the group. Once the core program is completed, groups are encouraged to meet annually supported by CFA. Community Fireguard facilitators CFA employs facilitators to deliver the Community Fireguard program across the state. Facilitators help groups become established and provide support, technical information and resources. They help groups gather relevant informational and develop Bushfire Survival Plans. For more information about CFA’s community education programs, contact your nearest regional office or visit www.cfa.vic.gov.au For more information about the Community Fireguard Program or to find out how to establish a CFG group, phone the Victorian Bushfire Information Line on 1800 240 667 or go to www.communityprograms.cfa.vic.gov.au 04 HOUSEHOLD BUSHFIRE SELF ASSESSMENT WORKBOOK Introduction This workbook will provide you with the first step in developing your Bushfire Survival Plan. The Household Bushfire Self Assessment Workbook has been designed to be used with other information in the FireReady Kit, along with other CFA education programs on bushfire preparedness and planning. If you are unable to use this Household Bushfire Self Assessment workbook, please phone the helpline on 1800 068 611 or email email@example.com Alternatively, an online version with a defendable space calculator is available. Please visit the CFA website www.cfa.vic.gov.au Household Bushfire Self Assessment Tool web page. Building and planning permit applications For residents applying for a building or planning permit, this workbook and associated results are not a substitute for the Wildfire Management Overlay Applicant’s Workbook – 2010. If you would like a copy of the Wildfire Management Overlay Applicant’s Workbook – 2010 to assist you with these applications, you will need to contact either your local council, download a copy from the CFA website www.cfa.vic.gov.au or contact your regional CFA office. Defendable space Defendable space is an area around your home where you have modified and managed the vegetation to reduce a bushfire‟s intensity. By having defendable space you will reduce the amount of direct flame contact and radiant heat on your house. Creating defendable space does not make it safe for you to be outside during a bushfire. It only reduces the impact a bushfire may have on your house and the likelihood of your home igniting from radiant heat and direct flame contact. To ensure protection from radiant heat, people must remain inside the house while the fire front passes. Please read about radiant heat in the Defending Your Property section of this kit on page 63. You need to be aware that your house will still be at risk from fires caused by ember attack. Why you need defendable space Determining if you have enough defendable space is a critical part of developing your Bushfire Survival Plan. Without defendable space you and your home will not survive the passage of the fire front. The type, amount and proximity of vegetation along with slope will influence the amount of defendable space required for your house. This information can assist you in determining whether additional vegetation management is required. You also need to consider the materials that your house is constructed with. Sustained flame contact and excessive radiant heat is likely to overwhelm most building materials and additional measures should be taken to protect buildings. Information to guide you on construction and renovation can be found on the Building Commission‟s website www.buildingcommission.com.au REMEMBER Even with enough defendable space, the safest option is to leave high risk bushfire areas the night before or early on Code Red days. Further sources of information Refer to the Preparing Your Property section in this kit for minimum recommendations and treatments to assist in reducing the impact of radiant heat, flame and embers on your home. Information on preparing your home for ember attack, as well as developing your Bushfire Survival Plan, is also available in this kit. Further information on how to prepare for bushfire can also be obtained by joining a Community Fireguard Group, attending a FireReady Victoria meeting in your area or phoning the Victorian Bushfire Information Line (VBIL) on 1800 240 667. Property owners can request a free of charge site visit from CFA to help understand their level of risk. For more information visit www.cfa.vic.gov.au Using this workbook This workbook has been produced to assist you to collect the information needed to identify the minimum amount of defendable space your home will require in the event of a bushfire. The three sections to work through are: Section 1: Information collection This section will guide you through the information you need to collect to calculate your defendable space. Section 2: Data entry This section enables you to transfer the information that you have collected into the correct data entry points and to calculate your defendable space. Section 3: Understanding your results This section will explain what your defendable space results mean. SECTION 1 Information collection There are four important factors that must be considered when determining the amount of defendable space your house requires: 1. Identifying vegetation type 2. Identifying the slope – flat ground, up slope or down slope 3. Calculating the degree of slope 4. Measuring distance to your property boundary. In a high bushfire risk area the most severe fires usually approach from the north-west under the influence of hot, dry winds, or from the south-west under the influence of strong, gusting winds associated with a change of weather. The northern and western aspects of a building require the most protection. When collecting your information you will need to take into consideration the area 100 metres from all sides of your home for both the Northwestern and Eastern Zones. The Northwestern Zone includes all land anti-clockwise from the north-east to the south relative to the building. The Eastern Zone includes all remaining land. 1.1 Identifying the vegetation type Identifying the type of vegetation around your property is critical to determining the bushfire risk. You will need to assess the vegetation type correctly. Use the following descriptions and images to determine the type of vegetation you have within 100 metres from all sides of your home for both the Northwestern and Eastern Zones. You may identify more than one type of vegetation around your house. Do you have a cultivated garden? (regardless of tree height) Northwestern Zone Eastern Zone Description: Highly managed urban or horticultural areas Typically these feature exotic and native vegetation in garden beds separated by open spaces of grass. Vegetation examples Example A Urban/rural interface residential subdivisions of small size house lots Cultivated gardens with mown or slashed grassed areas Scattered eucalypts, which are usually mature remnants of the original vegetation No regeneration of the forest Access by constructed roads and paths. Example B Rural, township or bushland setting with larger residential lots Cultivated gardens with mown or slashed grassed areas Scattered eucalypts, which are usually mature remnants of the original vegetation No regeneration of the forest Access by constructed roads and paths (sealed and unsealed). Do you have grassland with minimal trees? (regardless of tree height) Northwestern Zone Eastern Zone Description: Includes areas of grazed paddocks, with or without occasional trees Commonly rural residential areas, hobby farms or broad acre grazing properties. Vegetation examples Example A Isolated, scattered or clumped eucalypts, usually mature remnants of the original forest Open grassy paddocks grazed or slashed May have some regeneration of canopy or understorey trees that have been selectively retained Easy to walk through in any direction. Example B Isolated, scattered or clumped eucalypts, usually mature remnants of the original forest Open grassy paddocks grazed or with crops No regeneration of canopy trees Easy to walk through in any direction. Do you have low forest? Northwestern Zone Eastern Zone Description: Tree heights less than 10 metres and canopy cover greater than 30 per cent Commonly found on sites with poor, rocky or sandy soils, lower rainfall, or areas exposed to extreme weather such as mountainous ridges or coastal areas. Vegetation examples Example A Very few shrubs, mostly grasses and other tussock plants in the understorey Moderate levels of leaf and twig litter Moderately easy to walk through Generally low rainfall, poor soils. Example B Eucalypt canopy trees of usually multi-stem mallee habit Very few shrubs, grasses and other plants in the understorey Low to moderate levels of leaf and twig litter Easy to walk through Generally low rainfall, poor soils. Do you have woodland? Northwestern Zone Eastern Zone Description: Canopy cover of the trees is less than 30 per cent regardless of the height of the trees There will be distinct spaces between the crowns of the trees. Vegetation examples Example A Highly modified remnant vegetation with extensive tree removal, no shrubs, and only occasional tussock plants Intensively mown with no shrub or tree regeneration Leaf and twig litter largely absent or mulched from frequent mowing or slashing Easy to walk through „park-like‟ setting Generally moderate to high rainfall and deep soils. Example B Sparse or patchy cover of shrubs, often spindly Grass cover sparse and patchy Low levels of leaf and twig litter separated by patches of bare earth Easy to walk through Generally low to moderate rainfall and poor soils. Do you have shrub and heath? (no trees) Northwestern Zone Eastern Zone Description: Generally shrubs less than three metres high, but ranging up to six metres Most plants tend to be tough and wiry with small scratchy leaves There may also be occasional trees but these are isolated Commonly found in coastal areas or damp locations associated with waterways or in poorly drained areas. Vegetation examples Example A Dense cover of mostly prickly shrubs that form the canopy May have some ferns and tussock plants underneath the canopy Very difficult to walk through or impenetrable Generally poorly drained (swampy) areas. Example B Dense cover of mostly prickly shrubs that form the canopy May have some tussock plants in the understorey Very difficult to walk through or impenetrable Coastal areas on sandy soils. Example C Dense patches of low prickly shrubs that may be separated by patches of tussock plants Moderately difficult to walk through Generally poor soils and/or poor drainage Frequently on exposed sites. Do you have medium forest? Northwestern Zone Eastern Zone Description: Generally eucalypt trees 10 to 30 metres in height and a canopy cover greater than 30 per cent Commonly with stringy bark, peppermint and box bark eucalypts May have a shrubby or grassy understorey Common vegetation type in fertile valleys, foothills and mountain areas. Vegetation examples Example A Scattered shrubs with grasses in between them Easy to walk through High levels of leaf and twig litter Generally poor, shallow soils. Example B Dense, prickly shrub cover to three metres with some grasses High levels of leaf and twig litter Difficult to walk through Generally poor soils. Do you have tall forest? Northwestern Zone Eastern Zone Description: Eucalypt trees 30 metres high or more, and canopy cover greater than 30 per cent May be stringy bark, peppermint or smooth gum bark eucalypts Typically with small trees, and large shrubs and ferns in the understorey Common in medium to high altitude areas, along waterways, or where there is high rainfall and/or well protected sites such as in gullies. Vegetation examples Example A Small trees and tall shrubs in the understorey, often with tree ferns and large tussock plants (sedges) Creepers and grasses climbing in the large shrubs and small trees High levels of leaf, twig and loose bark litter Difficult to walk through High rainfall, deep soils. Example B Small trees and tall shrubs forming a dense understorey Sometimes with ferns, but usually with grasses, sedges and other tussock plants High levels of leaf and twig litter Difficult to walk through Generally moderate to high rainfall, deep soils. 1.2 Identifying the slope – flat ground/down slope/up slope The slope of a property can affect the behaviour of a bushfire. Fire will travel faster and with greater intensity uphill because vegetation in front of the fire is preheated and will more readily ignite. The slope of the land is measured from the direction from which a bushfire front may approach your house. You will need to select the slope for both the Northwestern and Eastern zones within the 100 metres that surrounds your house. Please tick the box for the image that best represents your house for both zones. 1.3 Calculating the degree of slope You can skip calculating your degree of slope if you have identified flat ground or up slope for both the Northwestern and Eastern Zone. Only those with identified down slope must calculate the degree of slope. When measuring the degree of down slope please ensure you measure the steepest and most predominant down slope on your property. Your degree of down slope Fill in your measurement/s of your predominant down slope in the boxes below. Northwestern zone Eastern zone There are several inexpensive and relatively easy ways to calculate the actual slope on your land if you do not have a clinometer. We have provided you with three different ways to calculate the actual degree of slope on your property. Please select the method that best suits your needs. a. Walking – How to measure degrees of slope by walking Degrees Gradient Description 20 1 in 3 Difficult climb 15 1 in 4 Hard climb, limit of 2WD roads 10 1 in 6 Moderate to walk, too steep for cycling 5 1 in 10 Easy to walk, but cycling is difficult 0 0 in 0 Flat ground b. Ruler – How to measure degrees of slope using a ruler 1. Pick a spot between 40 and 100 metres away and have an assistant of similar height stand as a reference point. If you do not have an assistant pick a nearby tree as a reference point and tie a bright ribbon or tape around the trunk at your eye height. 2. Standing at the edge of the slope or at some point on the slope to be measured, hold one end of a centimetre ruler 30 centimetres in front of your face, level with your eye so that it hangs down. 3. Looking past the ruler at the assistant‟s head or marker, note how many centimetres on the ruler their head is below your eye level. 4. The table below will convert this to a slope range. 5. It is important to hold the end of the ruler at eye level and let it hang straight down 30 centimetres in front so that a reasonable level of accuracy is gained. Measurement on ruler (cm) Converted slope range (degrees) Less than or equal to 0 Up slope or flat 0 – 3cm 0 – 5° 3 – 5cm 5 – 10° 5 – 8cm 10 – 15° 8 – 10cm 15 – 18° Greater than 10cm Greater than 18° c. Protractor – How to measure degrees of slope using a protractor 1. Attach the string to the protractor at the midpoint between the zero and 180° marks (the vertex of the angle). 2. Hang a small weight on the end of the string to make a plumb-bob. The string should hang over the 90° mark when the protractor‟s flat edge is parallel to the ground. 3. To measure the slope angle from the top of the slope, put your eye by the zero degree mark and sight along the flat edge of the protractor toward the bottom of the hill. If you are at the bottom, put your eye at the 180° mark and look up toward the top. 4. Check the new angle where the string falls when the plumb-bob is hanging straight down. 5. To get the slope measurement in degrees, subtract 90° from the new vertical angle. In this example, the new angle is 120°, so the slope angle is 30° (120 – 90 = 30). 6. To be as accurate as possible, you should sight along the protractor‟s edge to a point the same height above the ground as your eye. It helps to imagine someone of your height standing at the bottom (top) of the slope. 1.4 Measuring distance to your property boundary The Northwestern Zone includes all land anti-clockwise from the north-east to the south relative to the building. The Eastern Zone includes all remaining land. You will need to measure and record the shortest distance to your property boundary/fence for the Northwestern and Eastern Zone of your house. It is recommended that you draw in your property boundary and then write down the shortest distance from the outside edge of your house to the boundary of your property. Tip: To assist you in measuring the distance to your boundary, one large adult step is equal to approximately one metre. SECTION 2 Data Entry You will need to transfer the information you have collected from Section 1 into the relevant sections below for each of the zones. 2.1 Identifying the slope (Refer to page 38) Northwestern Zone Down slope Flat/Up slope Eastern Zone Down slope Flat/Up slope 2.2 Calculating the degree of slope (Refer to pages 39 – 40) Remember only those with identified down slope need to calculate degree of slope. Northwestern Zone Eastern Zone 2.3 Identifying vegetation type (Refer to pages 31 – 37) Please tick your vegetation type/s Northwestern Zone Eastern Zone Tall forest Tall forest Medium forest Medium forest Shrub or heath Shrub or heath Woodland Woodland Low forest Low forest Grassland with minimal trees Grassland with minimal trees Cultivated gardens Cultivated gardens 2.4 Distance to property boundary (Refer to page 41) Choose the distance that is the shortest from your house to your property boundary. Northwestern Zone Eastern Zone 2.5 Working out your defendable space You have identified the type of slope, the degree of slope and vegetation type on page 42. Use this information to complete the following steps: Step 1: Choose the table that identifies your type of slope from Section 2.1. If you have identified a different type of slope for each zone then you must choose the down slope in Table B with relevant degrees of slope. If you have identified flat ground or up slope for both zones then go to Table A. Step 2: If you have identified down slope choose the box in Table B that matches your highest degree of slope. Step 3: Tick your vegetation types within the table for each zone. Your minimum defendable space distance is identified on the same line as your vegetation type for each zone. Defendable space distance required Vegetation type Northwestern Zone Eastern Zone Type of slope Down Tall forest 101 metres 89 metres slope Degree of slope Medium forest 93 metres 67 metres 6-10 degrees Shrub or heath 73 metres 56 metres Woodland 30 metres 30 metres Low forest 30 metres 30 metres Grassland with minimal trees 47 metres 46 metres Cultivated gardens* 30 metres* 30 metres* This is an example of how to complete the table – see the next pages for the tables to complete. Complete the following to determine your defendable space requirements. Table A. Flat ground/Up slope Defendable space distance required Vegetation type Northwestern Zone Eastern Zone Type of slope Flat Tall forest 80 metres 57 metres ground / Up slope Medium forest 61 metres 44 metres Degree of slope 0 degrees Shrub or heath 73 metres 56 metres Woodland 30 metres 30 metres Low forest 30 metres 30 metres Grassland with minimal trees 43 metres 36 metres Cultivated gardens* 30 metres* 30 metres* Table B. Down slope Defendable space distance required Vegetation type Northwestern Zone Eastern Zone Type of slope Tall forest 98 metres 70 metres Down slope Degree of slope Medium forest 77 metres 54 metres 0-5 degrees Shrub or heath 73 metres 56 metres Woodland 30 metres 30 metres Low forest 30 metres 30 metres Grassland with minimal trees 45 metres 43 metres Cultivated gardens* 30 metres* 30 metres* Type of slope Tall forest 101 metres 89 metres Down slope Degree of slope Medium forest 93 metres 67 metres 6-10 degrees Shrub or heath 73 metres 56 metres Woodland 30 metres 30 metres Low forest 30 metres 30 metres Grassland with minimal trees 47 metres 46 metres Cultivated gardens* 30 metres* 30 metres* Type of slope Tall forest 105 metres 99 metres Down slope Degree of slope Medium forest 96 metres 85 metres 11-15 degrees Shrub or heath 73 metres 56 metres Woodland 35 metres 30 metres Low forest 30 metres 30 metres Grassland with minimal trees 50 metres 48 metres Cultivated gardens* 30 metres* 30 metres* Type of slope Tall forest 109 metres 103 metres Down slope Degree of slope Medium forest 100 metres 95 metres 16-20 degrees Shrub or heath 73 metres 56 metres Woodland 47 metres 30 metres Low forest 39 metres 30 metres Grassland with minimal trees 54 metres 51 metres Cultivated gardens* 30 metres* 30 metres* Type of slope Tall forest 114 metres 106 metres Down slope Degree of slope Medium forest 104 metres 98 metres 21-25 degrees Shrub or heath 73 metres 56 metres Woodland 63 metres 40 metres Low forest 50 metres 34 metres Grassland with minimal trees 58 metres 55 metres Cultivated gardens* 42 metres* 35 metres* *If you have selected cultivated garden as the only vegetation type for both the Northwestern and Eastern zones for the area 100 metres from each side of your house, your property has met the minimum defendable space requirements. 2.6 Identifying your defendable space requirements Step 1: Using the information collected in Section 2.5, enter the minimum defendable space required for both zones. If you have chosen more than one vegetation type you will need to choose the longest defendable space distance identified for each zone. Step 2: Enter the shortest distance from your property boundary to your house for each zone (collected from Section 2.4 on page 42). Minimum defendable space Distance to your property boundary Zone required (choose the longest (choose the shortest distance) distance) Northwestern Zone 47 metres 40 metres Eastern Zone 30 metres 40 metres In the example above the minimum defendable space requirements have not been met as distance required for the Northwestern zone is greater than the property boundary. You must achieve the required distance for both zones. Minimum defendable space Distance to your property boundary Zone required (choose the longest (choose the shortest distance) distance) Northwestern Zone 98 metres 105 metres Eastern Zone 70 metres 90 metres In the example above the minimum defendable space requirements have been met for both zones. Minimum defendable space Distance to your property boundary Zone required (choose the longest (choose the shortest distance) distance) Northwestern Zone Eastern Zone Compare the distances of your property boundary (right column) to your minimum defendable space requirements (left column) in the table above. Is the distance to your property boundary for both zones the same as or longer than the defendable space distance required? NB. You must achieve the minimum required distance in both zones or you will not meet your defendable space requirements. If yes – You have met the minimum defendable space required for both zones. Please proceed to Section 3.2 and ensure you read carefully. If no – Your property is not big enough to achieve the minimum defendable space requirements within your property boundary for both zones. Please proceed to Section 3.1 and read carefully. If you have a cultivated garden If you have selected cultivated garden as the only vegetation type for both the Northwestern and Eastern zones for the area 100 metres from each side of your house, your property has met the minimum defendable space requirements. NB: The distance that you have identified for defendable space is made up of two zones, a 10 metre Inner Zone, and the remainder of the distance required is the Outer Zone. These zones need to be managed differently. See the following pages for further information on managing vegetation within your defendable space. SECTION 3 Understanding your defendable space results 3.1 If your defendable space requirements have not been met Your property is not big enough to achieve the required defendable space within your property boundaries. This means you are reliant on vegetation management on neighbouring properties. If land beyond your property boundary is being managed to the defendable space vegetation management requirements, it may be appropriate to include it as part of your defendable space. You will need to monitor vegetation outside your property boundary during the summer period. If the vegetation changes during summer then you should recalculate your defendable space requirements. Working out how much defendable space you need is the first step in developing your fire plan. For further information to help you better plan, prepare and understand what is required when planning to leave early, please read the information in Section 03 – Leaving Early of the FireReady Kit. Property owners can also request a free of charge site visit from CFA to help understand their level of risk. For more information visit www.cfa.vic.gov.au or call 1800 240 667. 3.2 If you have met the minimum defendable space requirements If you have met the recommended minimum defendable space requirements, you will still need to take into consideration other factors including home design and construction. Identifying your defendable space is only one step in developing your Bushfire Survival Plan. And remember, that even with or without defendable space, the safest option is to leave high risk bushfire areas the night before or early on Code Red days. The data that you have provided indicates that you are able to create the minimum defendable space requirements within the boundaries of your property. You will now need to maintain the vegetation within your defendable space for both your 10 metre Inner Zone and your Outer Zone. This is detailed in section 3.4. To be protected from radiant heat and direct flame contact people must stay inside the house while the fire front passes and actively patrol for spot fires within the house. REMEMBER Defending your home is very risky – you could die or be seriously injured. Always refer to the Fire Danger Ratings for your trigger to act. Defendable space does not make it safe for you to be outside as a bushfire front passes. Fire Danger Ratings On days of Severe fire danger, well prepared homes that are actively defended can provide safety – check your Bushfire Survival Plan. If you are not prepared, leaving high risk bushfire areas early in the day is your safest option. On Extreme days, consider staying with your property only if you are prepared to the highest level. This means your home needs to be situated and constructed or modified to withstand a bushfire* you are well prepared and you can actively defend your home if a fire starts. If you are not prepared to the highest level, leaving high risk bushfire areas early in the day is your safest option. Homes are not designed or constructed to withstand fires in Code Red conditions. The safest option is to leave high risk bushfire areas the night before or early on Code Red days. Do not wait and see. Also on Code Red days, know your trigger. Make a decision about: When you will leave Where you will go How will you get there When you will return What you will do if you cannot leave *To learn more about specially designed homes, visit www.cfa.vic.gov.au 3.4 Defendable space vegetation management requirements The minimum required defendable space distances that you have identified has two zones; the Inner Zone and Outer Zone. The 10 metre Inner Zone is closest to your house where the vegetation is required to be maintained to a minimum set of requirements The remainder of the distance is the Outer Zone and this is the space between the Inner Zone and unmodified vegetation. Inner Zone Management Requirements Grass must be no more than 100 millimetres (10 centimetres) in height Fallen leaves must be no more than 10 millimetres (1 centimetre) deep No shrubs over 1 metre next to or below windows No trees overhanging the roofline. Outer Zone management requirements Grass must be no more than 100 millimetres (10 centimetres) in height Fallen leaves must be no more than 20 millimetres (2 centimetres) deep There must be no shrubs or hanging dead material (detached branches or bark) on at least 50% of the Outer Zone Clumps of shrubs need to be isolated from one another by at least 10 metres. 3.5 Managing vegetation over your fence To achieve your minimum defendable space distance requirements, you may need to consider the management of vegetation over your fence. Please contact the owners of the land abutting your property before you attempt to manage any vegetation that is not on your own property. 3.6 The 10/30 right In September 2009, the Victorian Government announced the introduction of new planning permit exemptions for the clearing of native vegetation for bushfire protection. This is known as the „10/30 right‟. Under the changes, no planning permit will be required to undertake the following measures for bushfire protection if outside the metropolitan area. Please check the website www.cfa.vic.gov.au or with your local council. The new planning exemptions give residents who own their property in certain areas the right to: Remove, destroy or lop any vegetation within 10 metres of a building used for accommodation Remove, destroy or lop any vegetation, except for trees (ie. ground fuel), within 30 metres of a building used for accommodation Remove, destroy or lop any vegetation for a combined maximum width of four metres either side of boundary fences. You need to have prior written permission from the landowner for clearance on their side of the fence. The Department of Sustainability and Environment (DSE) has produced information sheets on the new vegetation management guidelines. These are available from www.dse.vic.gov.au Please note the 10/30 right does not apply in all councils and permits may still be required. Please check with your local council for details. Summary Defendable space is an area around your home that has reduced vegetation to decrease a bushfire‟s intensity. You will still experience a bushfire front. However radiant heat and direct flame contact will be reduced The radiant heat levels will only be reduced enough to help the building survive the passage of the fire front. Radiant heat is the biggest killer in a fire and the best protection from radiant heat is distance Your house will still be at risk from fires caused by ember attack Creating and maintaining defendable space is only one part of preparing your property for bushfire Use the information found in Preparing Your Property to prepare for the fire season The information in the Leaving Early section will help you plan to leave early, where you will go and what you will take The Defending Your Property section will help you deal with a bushfire on your property Remember that even if you have achieved the minimum defendable space requirements it is advised to leave early on all days declared Code Red – either early in the morning or the night before. 05 DEFENDING YOUR PROPERTY Stay and actively defend IMPORTANT Defending a house requires at least two able-bodied, fit and determined adults who are physically and mentally prepared to work in difficult and dangerous conditions. Bushfires kill and even well-prepared homes can be destroyed by bushfire. The safest option is to be well away from the threat. Do not expect a firetruck to help you defend your home. Can I stay and defend? Defending your home is a sound option in some conditions, but only if certain precautions are taken. On Severe fire risk days, well-prepared homes that are actively defended can provide safety. On Extreme fire risk days, consider staying with your property only if you are prepared to the highest level. This means your home needs to be situated and constructed or modified to withstand a bushfire*, you are well-prepared and you can actively defend your home if a fire starts. On Code Red fire risk days, leaving high risk bushfire areas the night before or early in the day is your safest option – do not wait and see. REMEBER Even people who are extremely well prepared can die fighting fires at home. The best way to survive a bushfire is to be away from the threat A bushfire can destroy your house even if your house is bushfire ready People get hurt and die in bushfires Survival must be your main priority Many homes in high risk bushfire areas are not built to withstand bushfire Defending your home is risky and complex. *To learn more about specially designed homes visit www.cfa.vic.gov.au There are three important factors to consider when planning to defend your property: 1. Your personal capacity 2. Property preparation before the fire season 3. Recommended equipment and resources 1. Personal capacity Defending your home will be extremely hard work and requires significant resources. It may take hours and sometimes days of preparation and extreme effort. Children, the elderly, and people with special needs or a disability should be well away from the threat. If you stay and defend your house it will be Scary Tiring Hard to see Hard to breathe Very noisy Very hot. Do not stay and defend if you have Asthma A heart problem Other illness/disability. Do not stay and defend if you are with a person who Has a physical disability Has an intellectual disability Has emotional or mental health problems Is sick Is elderly Is a child less than 16 years old. 2. Property preparation The Preparing Your Property section of this kit outlines what is required to prepare your property before the fire season. Staying on your property in a bushfire is not an option if you cannot create and maintain the required defendable space around your home. Not all houses are defendable in all conditions, no matter how well you prepare. Houses in some high-risk locations may not be possible to defend at all. Staying with an unprepared property is very dangerous and could cost you your life. If you have not prepared your property before the fire season you should leave before bushfire threatens. 3. Recommended equipment and resources If you are confident you are capable and prepared to actively defend your property, CFA recommends you have these resources and equipment as a minimum: 10,000 litres of water for firefighting purposes A firefighting pump that is protected from radiant heat and not reliant on mains power supply Firefighting hoses that reach around your home Protective clothing. Minimum 10,000 litres of water You should have access to a dedicated, independent water supply of at least 10,000 litres to stay to actively defend. You cannot rely on mains water during a bushfire. If you can, install a 10,000 litre tank specifically for firefighting purposes. Alternatively, the 10,000 litres could be made up from a variety of sources such as several tanks or a dam and a tank or a swimming pool. Remember, dams can dry up over summer so it‟s important to identify other alternate water sources on or near your property. Tanks should be made from galvanised iron or concrete. Plastic tanks can melt in extreme bushfires. If you have a tank it is extremely important that you protect it from the effects of fire by reducing vegetation around the tank. Make sure you can access this water easily and it is located close to the buildings you need to protect. You can also store smaller amounts of water using: 44 gallon drums placed strategically around the home Rubbish bins (wheelie bins work well but could melt in intense heat) Wheelbarrows Troughs or garden ponds The more water storage you have the better. Piping to deliver water You must also consider the type of piping used if you have a tank. It is recommended that all below-ground water pipelines must be installed to the following depths: Subject to vehicle traffic: 300 millimetre Under houses or concrete slabs: 75 millimetre All other locations: 225 millimetre. All fixed above-ground water pipelines and fittings, including water supply, must be constructed of non-corrosive and non- combustible materials. Above ground water supplies should be provided with a CFA fitting. To make this a useful system it is best to have a “T” fitting that allows one side for CFA and the other side for you. CFA‟s specifications for this type of fitting would be: One 64 millimetre, 3 thread/25 millimetre x 50 millimetre nominal bore British Standard Pipe (BSP), round male coupling (see below): All pipe work and valving between the water supply and the outlet must be no less than 50 millimetre nominal bore If less than 20 metres from the building, each outlet must face away from the building to allow access during emergencies. Firefighting pump Have a petrol, diesel or electric pump if you need to draw water from an independent water supply such as a tank or swimming pool. If you have an electric water pump, you will need to have a generator as back-up, as it is likely that mains power will fail during a bushfire. The size of the pump you will need depends on: The source of water and how far away it is Piping size, length and configuration The number of outlets you will be using at the same time The size and length of the hoses you are using with your pump. Pump suppliers should be able to advise you of the size of pump you require. When a pump overheats or melts it stops working. If the fuel in the pump vaporises from the heat it will become inoperable. It is extremely important that your pump is protected from fire and radiant heat. You can protect your pump by reducing the vegetation around it or housing it in a shed or another building that will resist radiant heat, direct flame contact and embers and has adequate ventilation. The more protection you can give your pump the more likely it will continue to operate during a bushfire. It is important that every adult in the household knows how to start and operate the pump. The fuel in the pump must be changed annually as stale fuel may prevent your pump from working properly. You must plan what you will do if your pump fails during a bushfire. You may consider having a second pump as a back-up. Firefighting hoses The standard garden hose is made from plastic and may melt in a bushfire. CFA suggests using fire resistant hoses in place of garden hoses. Keep in mind that the bigger the hose the heavier it will become when full of water and the greater the volume of water used. Consider: That hoses will need to reach to all areas of your home. You can use a string line to work out the required hose lengths Metal hose fittings for taps are less likely to melt when temperatures rise Putting a hose fitting connection on to your washing machine tap so that you can use your hose inside if needed. Personal protective clothing Put together a kit of clothing for each household member. You must cover all exposed skin to protect yourself from radiant heat. Change into these clothes as soon as you are aware of fire in your area. Remember, personal protective clothing can only protect you from low levels of radiant heat. A long-sleeved shirt and pants made from cotton or some other natural fibre Sturdy boots and woollen socks Tough leather garden gloves – not rubber or synthetic A wide-brimmed hat to protect your head A face mask or towel to cover your mouth and nose Eye protection such as smoke goggles to shield your eyes A „P2‟ type mask or cotton scarf /handkerchief for face protection and to filter smoke. Other firefighting equipment The equipment recommended above is extremely important but there is a range of other equipment that will assist you in defending your property. Many of these items are commonly found around the home. Consider the following: Buckets – Galvanized buckets are best as plastic buckets can melt Mops – Old-fashioned cotton-headed mops soaked with water can be used to put out embers Ladders – Sturdy ladders will be required to check the ceiling space and roof for embers Blankets and towels (made from wool or cotton only) – When wet they can be used to seal any gaps under doors to help prevent embers and smoke from entering the house Torches (battery powered) – Leave a torch in the roof space to check for embers. Have another in the house in case the power goes off during the bushfire. Make sure you have plenty of batteries for the torches or consider purchasing a wind-up torch Radio (battery powered) – You will need to have a radio tuned into ABC or your local radio station to receive updated fire information. Power will most likely go out, so you must have a battery powered or wind-up radio Shovels and rakes – These can be very useful for shovelling dirt onto embers or small fires and to break up piles of burning material Knapsacks – Firefighting backpacks can be purchased, but many of the weed sprayers sold in hardware stores are also suitable (make sure they are cleaned out first). Consider how heavy a knapsack will be when it is full of water; a 20 litre knapsack will weigh 20 kilograms Downpipe or gutter plugs – To fill your gutters with water you will need a way to block the downpipes. Depending on the shape of your downpipes you may be able to purchase specially made gutter plugs. Other materials can also be used to block down pipes such as small sand bags, wet towels and tennis balls. Alternatively a plumber can install a shut off valve on all your downpipes. Sprinkler systems can help fight embers The objective of a bushfire sprinkler system is to help extinguish embers that land on the roof or other parts of the building. To operate effectively, a sprinkler system needs to have an appropriate, adequate water supply, an activation mechanism and a delivery system including pipes and heads that will discharge water at appropriate densities. The delivery system includes the pump, pipework and spray heads. You must ensure that the pump is the correct size and duty to deliver water to the spray heads at a suitable pressure. The pump must be protected from radiant heat. The correct size pipework can only be determined after the completion of a full hydraulic design. Pipes must be made of non-combustible materials such as copper. The spray heads need to be carefully chosen so that they provide an appropriate spray pattern and discharge density that can operate effectively during a bushfire. Other considerations: Will your sprinkler system be able to run even if mains power fails? Do you have an adequate water supply? A sprinkler system should be able to run for several hours What effect will wind have on the delivery of water to critical areas of your home? Bushfire sprinkler systems are only one treatment to improve the protection of your house from embers. On their own, they are not a reliable solution to treat bushfire risk. There is currently no Australian Standard for the design and installation of bushfire sprinkler systems. For more information about designing an appropriate bushfire sprinkler system, consult professionals who specialise in them. Firetruck access Although your plan should not rely upon CFA to assist you during a major fire, in some circumstances firefighters may be available to provide some support. It is in your interests to ensure that CFA firefighters have room to bring their trucks into your property safely and have easy access to a water supply. Consider: A CFA firetruck is 3 metres wide, 3.2 metres high and 7.5 metres long – can it get along your driveway? You need to allow 4 metres x 4 metres for adequate clearance. Is there room for a firetruck to turn around? Can a firetruck easily get through the gates? Can the bridges and culverts on your land carry a 15 tonne firetruck? Can firetrucks get within six metres of a dam, tank or pool to pick up water? Are gates and water supplies clearly marked? Does your below ground water tank have a roof hatch so the firetruck can draw water? Can your tank be connected? For direct connection with the CFA firetruck, the outlets on your above-ground water tanks need to be 64 millimetre diameter and three-threads per 25 millimetres. Is your street too steep to allow firetruck to drive down? Remember, do not expect a firetruck to help you defend your property. Experiencing a bushfire Experiencing a bushfire can be frightening and stressful. Understanding what to expect and planning for what you will do will help you to cope during a bushfire. But remember: the best way to survive bushfire is to be well away from the threat. What you can expect to happen during a bushfire Spot fires moving ahead of the main fire Lots of smoke and burning embers landing ahead of the fire and for many hours afterwards, making it hard to know where the fire front is Smoke, heat, noise and possibly darkness Power could be cut off or will be disrupted by the fire Mains water pressure could fail as other residents and firetrucks access water Telephone lines could be cut by falling trees and mobile coverage can quickly become congested. Loss of power will prevent cordless phones from working Road travel will be extremely dangerous as visibility will be low, fallen branches and power lines may block roads and there will be many emergency vehicles on the road. How you might feel Confused You do not know where you are You cannot breathe properly Scared. You need to remember your plan. Focus on what you need to do. Do not take risks Thirsty and hungry. You need to drink and eat before you feel thirsty or hungry Tired. You need to take breaks. Heat stress and dehydration To avoid heat stress and dehydration, which can make you confused and weak: Drink plenty of water Avoid alcohol and fizzy drinks Splash your face with water to keep cool Move in and out of shade and house where possible Visit www.dhs.vic.gov.au/emergency for more details. Will you get a warning? Fires can start suddenly. You might not get an official warning. Listen for information about towns or suburbs near you. The name of your town or suburb might not be in a warning. When you can, look outside to check for signs of fire. For example, smoke, embers. Make sure you have a radio that uses batteries. Keep extra batteries. You will need these if there is no power. Be aware of local conditions and seek information by listening to ABC Local Radio, commercial radio stations or watching Sky News TV, go to www.cfa.vic.gov.au or call the Victorian Bushfire Information Line on 1800 240 667. You may also get an alert sent to your landline or mobile phone based on its billing address. Your Bushfire Survival Plan Not everyone thinks clearly in an emergency. A written and well-practised plan will help you remember what needs to be done during a crisis. Discuss your plan with all family members. Everyone should be aware that staying to defend involves a high risk of psychological trauma, injury or possibly death. Your plan needs to outline what to do: Before the bushfire season – property preparation During the bushfire season – property maintenance On days of Severe, Extreme and Code Red – final preparations When fire is your area – your plan of action or response As fire approaches and impacts your property – how to protect yourself After the fire-recovery for you and your household. You need to reassess your decision to defend your property the morning of Severe and Extreme fire risk days. Always consider if your circumstances have changed. On days of Code Red fire risk the safest option is to leave the night before, or early in the morning. Do not wait until there is fire in the area to make the decision. Leaving late when fire is close to your house is extremely dangerous and could result in death. Do not expect a firetruck. Your back-up plan Having alternative plans detailing what you will do if parts of your Bushfire Survival Plan fail is very important. This will need to include a plan of what to do if: Your pump or other equipment fails Your house catches fire and you need somewhere else to shelter You injure yourself and need somewhere to shelter safely. Leaving when the bushfire has arrived is extremely dangerous and can be deadly. Therefore you must consider what your safest options are should you be unable to stay in your house. Consider: Are there any other structures on your property that could provide shelter if needed Do any of your neighbours have a well-prepared house you can use if you need to? Identify the safer houses in your street / area now so that you know where to go to if you find yourself caught out by a bushfire As a last resort, there may be a Neighbourhood Safer Place designated in your area. Check with your local council or the CFA website www.cfa.vic.gov.au to see if there is one designated in your area. How will your Bushfire Survival Plan change if it’s a weekday, a weekend or a public holiday? Think about who will be at home if a fire risk day occurs on a weekday, a weekend or a public holiday. How will this impact on your ability to put your Bushfire Survival Plan into action. What if your children are at school? Many bushfires start late in the afternoon. What will you do if you have visitors staying with you? Will any family members be away on business or holiday? If they are away, someone else will need to take up their Bushfire Survival Plan responsibilities. Activating your plan of action Bushfires can travel extremely fast and impact without warning. It is vital that you are ready to act as soon as you learn of fire in your area. Many people have been caught out thinking they had more time to act before the bushfire impacted. Filling tanks and filling gutters with water takes time. Plan for the fact that you may have 30 minutes or less before fire impacts. What can you do in 30 minutes or less? On days of Extreme fire risk Consider staying with your property only if you are prepared to the highest level. This means your home needs to be situated and constructed or modified to withstand a bushfire, you are well-prepared and you can actively defend your home if a fire starts. If you are not prepared to the highest level, leaving high risk bushfire areas early in the day is your safest option. On days of Severe fire risk Well-prepared homes that are actively defended can provide safety – check your Bushfire Survival Plan. If you are not prepared, leaving high risk bushfire areas early in the day is your safest option. Be aware of local conditions and seek information by listening to ABC Local Radio, commercial radio stations or Sky News TV, go to www.cfa.vic.gov.au or call the Victorian Bushfire Information Line on 1800 240 667. Waiting until you are alerted to fire in the area to put these things in place is extremely risky: Fill tanks or portable tanks, knapsacks and other water points Fill water points inside such as the bath tub and laundry trough Connect and roll out fire houses Organise enough drinking water for everyone staying to defend Remove all flammable items from around the house including door mats, outdoor furniture and pot plants Remove all dead leaves and other fine fuels from around the house Ensure gutters are clean and ready to be filled with water. Put gutter plugs in place. You can even fill your gutters with water Check your protective clothing kits and place in an easily accessible location Bring small pets inside Move larger animals and stock to safer paddocks or yards Check the pump/s are working and that you have adequate fuel supplies Set up woollen blankets and wet towels in an easily accessible location Move portable gas cylinders away from the house Move indoor furniture away from the windows Set up ladders in place outside and inside Set up torches and batteries in an easily accessible location Move cars, tractors, caravans and trailers away from the house. When fire is in your area As soon as there is a fire in your area you must put on your protective clothing and ensure everyone staying to defend has the correct clothing on. It is recommended that you: Switch off mains gas supply Double-check all gas cylinders are securely stored in an upright position with relief valves pointing away from the house Fill gutters if not already done Wet down around the house Close all windows and doors and use wet towels and blankets to fill gaps under doors Turn off the air conditioner Close window shutters Continue to listen for updates on ABC or local radio Patrol for embers and extinguish them on landing Shelter inside as the fire front passes. As fire approaches and impacts As the bushfire approaches there may be many embers falling and you will need to extinguish them as best you can. If you have a sprinkler system – turn it on. Bring inside any equipment that may melt if left outside. You will need to go inside to protect yourself from radiant heat when it gets too hot. Your own body will tell you when it is too hot to remain outside. The areas of skin on your ears and hands are the best indicators as they are highly sensitive. If they start to feel extremely hot – go inside. Once inside you need to actively patrol inside the house for embers that may have entered. Check in the roof space and in every room. You may need to remain inside for 20-30 minutes as the fire front passes. As the fire front passes it may be very noisy – some people describe a fire front passing as a freight train going past. The sky will turn black and it will be like night time. If your house catches fire If your house catches fire from the outside monitor from the inside as you may be able to extinguish it when you move back outside. However, if the fire moves inside you will be in a very dangerous situation. If this happens you must: Close the door to the room that is on fire Move to the other end of the house closing all the doors behind you Make sure that you have a point of exit in every room you move to Do not get trapped in a room without a way out Move outside onto burnt ground as soon as you can If it is still too hot outside you will need to seek shelter in another building or structure. After the fire Even though the fire front has passed the danger is not over yet. You need to continue to wear your protective clothing and stay hydrated. Embers will continue to fall on and around your house for many hours. It is advised that you check for burning embers: Inside the roof Under the floor boards Under the house On verandahs and decking Around window sills and doors In garden beds and mulch In wood heaps In sheds. Large trees may continue to burn for many hours and will be very difficult to extinguish. Focus on extinguishing embers that may impact on your house. Call friends and family to let them know you are safe. How to look after your emotional health Make sure you and your family are safe Do your normal routine if you can Get information about how people feel after an emergency Get information about how long it takes to feel better Spend time with people you care about Talk about what has happened to you Talk to your children about how they feel Take time to rest and do things you enjoy If you are not feeling better, seek help from a mental health professional, doctor, or recovery worker. Animals and bushfire Pets The safest place for your pets is far away from bushfire risk places. You can move your pets To stay with family To stay with friends To a place that can look after your pets. For example, kennels. If your pets are with you when the bushfire goes past you need to Bring your pets inside with you Make sure pets drink water. Horses Horses know how to move to safe open areas during bushfire. Take off horse Rugs Halters Fly veils. Put horses in a big paddock with Short grass Small number of trees and plants. Do not Lock horses in small areas Lock horses in stables Let horses out on the road. If you do not have a safe place for your horses during bushfire, move them to Local showgrounds Sale yards Park Racetracks Pony Club grounds. Livestock For example: Sheep Goats Cattle. Put livestock in a paddock with Green grass No grass No dry feed Small number of trees and plants. There should be firebreaks. For example, a lane with no grass or trees. The Department of Primary Industries (DPI) will assist with assessing injured stock and losses to farm assets. Call DPI on 136 186 or visit the website www.dpi.vic.gov.au for more information. Radiant heat is the biggest killer in a fire Bushfires produce enormous amounts of radiant heat This heat travels in straight lines, radiating out from a bushfire ahead of the flames Radiant heat is the warmth you feel from a campfire, a radiant heater, or the flame from a gas stovetop, but could be up to 50,000 times more intense in a major bushfire Without protection, intense radiant heat will kill you Radiant heat can be blocked by a solid object, such as a concrete wall or building which creates a barrier between you and the bushfire The best protection from radiant heat is distance. Bushfires and radiant heat The hotter, drier and windier the day, the more intense a bushfire will be and the more radiant heat it will generate Being outdoors during a bushfire means you risk exposure to radiant heat The radiant heat from a bushfire can kill a human without flames ever touching them Radiant heat kills very quickly. The human body cannot absorb large amounts of radiant heat or withstand extremely high temperatures Radiant heat causes death from heatstroke where the body‟s cooling system fails, leading to heat exhaustion and heart failure. Protection from radiant heat This advice will only protect you from very low levels of radiant heat. Your safest option is to not be there. Wear protective clothing to safeguard yourself from radiant heat (see clothing items on next page) Make sure all skin is covered Don‟t wear shorts, t-shirts and thongs during a bushfire as they do not give your body any protection from radiant heat Cover up as soon as you are alerted to a fire in your area Have a kit of clothing ready for each family member who is staying to defend, including: o A long-sleeved shirt and pants made from cotton or some other natural fibre o Sturdy boots and woollen socks o Tough leather garden gloves – not rubber or synthetic o A wide-brimmed hat to protect your head o A face mask or towel to cover your mouth and nose o Eye protection such as smoke goggles to shield your eyes. Shield yourself from radiant heat Solid objects provide a barrier against radiant heat Radiant heat can pass through glass A well-prepared house or building that is situated and constructed or modified to withstand a bushfire* can provide a shield against radiant heat during a bushfire. Remember, the only sure way to survive bushfire and avoid radiant heat is to be away from the threat. Heat-related illness Heat stress occurs when the body is exposed to too much heat Symptoms of heat stress include cramps, fatigue and dizziness Managing heat stress is important as it can lead to heat exhaustion and heat stroke Heat stroke can kill you You can become dehydrated or heat-stressed during bushfires and not be aware of it To prevent heat stress, drink plenty of water as well as electrolyte drinks such as sports drinks to keep hydrated Cool yourself by placing wet towels over your lower arms Loosen clothing to circulate air flow, remove head protection and get some rest when safe to do so If someone is affected by heat stroke, move them to a shaded area if safe to do so and cool them by removing excess clothing, damping them down and fanning air over them Give small sips of fluids and place wet towels to the back of their head and armpits For heat stroke, call triple zero 000 and seek assistance immediately. Safety in the car Cars are a very dangerous place to be during a bushfire as they offer very little protection from radiant heat. If you get caught on the road, this is a very dangerous situation. To increase your protection from radiant heat if caught in your car: Park behind a solid structure to block as much radiant heat as possible. If this is not possible, then pull over to the side of the road into a clear area, well away from vegetation that may ignite Wind up your car windows, close the vents, put on your hazard lights and headlights, leave the engine running and air conditioning on recirculate Get down as low as possible below window level Cover up with a woollen blanket until the fire front passes. If you have water, drink it Get out of the car once the fire has gone. *To learn more about specially designed homes visit www.cfa.vic.gov.au 03 BUSHFIRE SURVIVAL PLAN Leaving Early Your Bushfire Survival Plan Use this guide to help you write your Bushfire Survival Plan. It is important to have read the Leaving Early section of the FireReady Kit first. You will need to consider your personal circumstances and how they will affect your plan. Not everyone thinks clearly in an emergency. A written and well-practised plan will help you remember what needs to be done during a crisis. It also lists the preparations you will need to do to help you become fire ready. Your plan needs to outline what to do: Before the bushfire season – property preparation During the bushfire season – further preparation and monitoring of conditions On days leading up to Code Red, Extreme and Severe fire danger – final preparations Back-up plan. What year is this plan for? Every year you will need to update your plan. And remember – even if your plan is to stay on days other than Code Red, you will need a plan to leave on Code Red days. Homes are not designed or constructed to withstand fires in these conditions. Actions before the bushfire season Who is this plan for? Preparing your property – house maintenance This includes things like: Clearing gutters of leaves and rubbish Ensuring underfloor areas are enclosed or screened Sealing gaps, vents and roof spaces to prevent embers entering your home Storing LPG gas tanks appropriately as they should be vented away from your house Firmly fixing roofing. What else will you do? (See Preparing Your Property section for more information). Preparing your property – vegetation management This includes things like: Clearing fine fuels from around your home Keeping grass areas well-trimmed and watered. Grass should be no more than 10 centimetres high Reducing dead leaves. Must be no more than 1 centimetre high Removing or trimming shrubs. No shrubs over 1 metre next to or below windows Trimming tree branches overhanging your house. What else will you do? (See Preparing Your Property section for more information). Trigger to leave The safest option is to leave high risk bushfire areas the night before or early on Code Red days. Do not wait and see. Know your trigger to leave – make a decision about when you will leave, where you will go, how you will get there, when you will return and what you will do if you can‟t return. On Extreme days, consider staying with your property only if you are prepared to the highest level. This means your home needs to be situated and constructed or modified to withstand a bushfire*, you are well-prepared and you can actively defend your home if a fire starts. If you are not prepared to the highest level, leaving high risk bushfire areas early in the day is your safest option. On Severe days, well prepared homes that are actively defended can provide safety. What is your trigger to leave? Have you discussed the trigger with all household members? Is this the same trigger for every household member? If not, what does this mean for your planning? *To learn more about specially designed homes visit www.cfa.vic.gov.au What to take – your Relocation Kit This includes: Protective clothing Food and water Woollen blankets Medications and toiletries A list of the contact numbers for your doctor, dentist, local hospital, chemist, vet, municipal councils, gas, electricity and water providers A first-aid kit Pet food, water and bedding if needed. What else do you need? Do you have adequate home or property insurance? Actions during the bushfire season (the Fire Danger period) List irreplaceable family keepsakes and valuables to consider moving out of the area during summer. Identify a safe location to store valuables and arrange to move them. Where will you locate them? List contact details of those who need to know about your plan. o Name o Relationship o Contact numbers Have you nominated someone to: Monitor weather conditions, know the daily Fire Danger Rating (FDR) in your area Check your Relocation Kit Store your Relocation Kit. It must be stored in an easy to access location. What is your plan for the safety of pets during relocation? Pets need to be kept cool and hydrated. Have you nominated someone to be responsible for maintenance activities around the house and property such as: Raking up leaves Cleaning the gutters Moving woodpiles away from the house Storing fuels and chemicals away from the house. What else will you do? Actions leading up to fire risk days Who will be at home – family or any visitors at the house? o Weekdays o Weekends/school holidays Where will you go? What is your planned destination? Can you stay there for a number of days? How will you get there? Identify alternative routes out of the area. Know your local area – have a map. List the names of your surrounding towns and suburbs. Always consider the circumstances of the day. Do you have transport organised? Before you leave: Close doors and windows, move doormats and outdoor furniture away from the house, fill gutters with water and other actions identified Add final items to Relocation Kit, such as medications, prescriptions and mobile phones. Pack the car including your Relocation Kit Turn off mains gas supply Move pets or livestock Leave front gate open for emergency services access Remember your most important items and documents such as wallet, cards, keys, banking, medical and insurance information. What else will you do? List the people you will tell that you have gone and where they can find you. Waiting until alerted to fire in the area is dangerous. You should not wait to receive a warning to leave. Bushfires can threaten lives and homes within minutes. Once fire is in your area it may become difficult to leave because road conditions will be dangerous. There may be road closures, smoke, fallen trees and embers. Just because you don’t receive a warning, does not mean there isn’t a threat, and do not expect a firetruck. What radio station/s will you be tuned into? How will you monitor conditions? How will you know it is safe to return? Your back-up plan Where do you plan to shelter if unsafe to leave your area? List any well-prepared houses or buildings in your area that could be a safer place to shelter in a bushfire if you are caught out. Do you have a designated Neighbourhood Safer Place in your area that could be used as a last resort? Where do you plan to shelter if unsafe to leave your property? This is an extremely dangerous situation and you must seek shelter from radiant heat in the most well-prepared building on your property. Things to consider: How will your plan be affected by several fire danger days in a row? Remember, it is important to minimise the disruption caused to your household by relocating. It is best to go to places where you can continue with normal activities as much as possible. 05 BUSHFIRE SURVIVAL PLAN Defending Your Property Your Bushfire Survival Plan Use this guide to help you write your Bushfire Survival Plan. It is important to have read the Defending Your Property section of the FireReady Kit first. You will need to consider your personal circumstances and how they will affect your plan. Not everyone thinks clearly in an emergency. A written and well-practised plan will help you remember what needs to be done during a fire. It also lists the preparations you will need to undertake to help become fire ready. Your plan needs to outline what to do: Before the bushfire season – property preparation During the bushfire season – more preparation and monitoring of conditions On days leading up to Code Red, Extreme and Severe fire risk – final preparations When fire is in your area – your plan of action or response As fire approaches and impacts your property – how to protect yourself After the fire – recovery for you and your household. What year is this plan for? Every year you will need to update your plan. And remember – even if your plan is to stay on days other than Code Red, you will need a plan to leave on Code Red days. Homes are not designed or constructed to withstand fires in these conditions. The safest option is to leave high risk bushfire areas the night before or early on Code Red days. On Extreme days, consider staying with your property only if you are prepared to the highest level. This means your home needs to be situated and constructed or modified to withstand a bushfire*, you are well-prepared and you can actively defend your home if a fire starts. On Severe days, well-prepared homes that are actively defended can provide safety. If you are not prepared to the highest level, leaving high risk bushfire areas early in the day is your safest option. Remember: Defending your home is very risky – you could die or be seriously injured. It is also complex and requires significant resources – you must be physically and mentally prepared. *To learn more about specially designed homes visit www.cfa.vic.gov.au Actions before bushfire season Who is this plan for? What is your recommended minimum defendable space? (Use the Household Bushfire Self Assessment Tool at www.cfa.vic.gov.au, book a free CFA site visit or use the Workbook in this kit) _____________ metres Have you created the recommended defendable space? What will you need to do to continue to maintain your defendable space? This will include: Clearing fine fuels from around your home Keeping grass areas well trimmed and watered. Grass should be no more than 10 centimetres high Reducing leaf litter (dead leaves). Leaf litter must be no more than 1 centimetre high Removing or trimming shrubs. There should be no shrubs over 1 metre around the house Trimming tree branches overhanging your house. What else will you do? (see Preparing Your Property for more information) Preparing your property – house maintenance. This will include: Clearing gutters of leaves and rubbish Ensuring underfloor areas are enclosed or screened Sealing gaps, vents and roof spaces to prevent embers entering your home Storing LPG gas tanks appropriately – they should be vented away from your house Roofing should be firmly fixed. What else will you do? (see Preparing Your Property for more information) Do you have the recommended resources and equipment? List any firefighting equipment you need to purchase. Have you put together a personal protective clothing kit for each member of your household who is staying to defend? Is there anything you still need? Have you stored your personal protection kit/s in an easy to access location? Do you have adequate house and contents insurance? What is your trigger to activate your plan of action? How will you know that a fire is approaching? Actions during the bushfire season Monitor conditions Check firefighting equipment and carry out maintenance as required – includes checking pumps, knapsacks etc Do regular maintenance in your home and garden to reduce fine fuels, including weeding and cleaning out your gutters. List anything specific that you will do. Check you have plenty of fuel for your pumps Move flammable items from around your house (eg paper, boxes, crates) Move woodpiles away from the house Face the vent pipe of any LPG cylinders away from the house Store fuel supplies and chemicals away from the house Check you have sufficient water supplies. You may need to increase your water storage Do you have a plan for where you will secure your pets and livestock? Actions the night before or morning of a day you may need to defend your property Your personal protective kit is current and easily accessible (Your kit must have long-sleeved shirt or jumper, long trousers, broad-brimmed hat, goggles for eye protection, sturdy footwear, gloves – natural fibres only, not synthetics.) Fill inside water storage such as bath, laundry trough and buckets Fill outside water storage Check all equipment (such as pumps, hoses and knapsacks) is working and set up in the required locations Move garden furniture, doormats and other loose outdoor items away from the house Move furniture away from the windows to prevent embers from entering your house and starting a fire Set up a ladder under the manhole Have a torch in the roof cavity Move stock or large animals Secure pets in a safe place Tune into a radio station – ABC local radio or commercial radio for fire updates. Or visit www.cfa.vic.gov.au for more information. Ensure you have enough drinking water set aside for all those actively defending. How will you store this and where will you locate it? List family, friends and neighbours to call to let them know you‟re activating your Bushfire Survival Plan. Actions when fire is in the area Dress in personal protective clothing (this is always the first thing you do) Shut all windows and doors to prevent smoke and flames entering your house Switch your air conditioner to recycle/recirculate mode to reduce the amount of indoor smoke, or turn it off Turn off mains gas supply Block downpipes and fill gutters with water Place wet woollen blankets or cotton towels around window and door edges inside the house to stop smoke and embers getting in Hose down the side of the house facing the fire, and the garden area close to the house Move cars, tractors, caravans away from the house into a clearing Listen for updates on fire activity on ABC local radio, commercial radio stations or Sky News TV or by visiting ww.cfa.vic.gov.au Keep an eye out for embers that the wind may be carrying and extinguish them with wet mops, backpack sprayers or a fire pump Turn on your sprinkler system if there is one Drink lots of cool water often even if you don‟t feel thirsty Close window shutters What else will you need to do? Actions as the fire front impacts As the fire front impacts it will become extremely hot outside. You will be unable to survive out in the open. You must protect yourself from radiant heat and move inside. Go inside when it becomes too hot to stay outside. The skin on your ears and hands will alert you that radiant heat has become too hot to survive outside Take all your plastic firefighting equipment inside with you, including all taps and hoses, because they can melt if left outside Stay inside with doors and windows shut, shutters or curtains drawn, but be alert to where the fire is. Don‟t hide in a part of the house where you can‟t see the progress of the fire. You may need to wind up shutters to check the fire‟s status Check for embers in the roof and elsewhere in your home Drink lots of cool water often even if you don‟t feel thirsty Keep cool by splashing your face with water If your house catches fire, close the door to the room that is alight and progressively close all doors moving to the other end of the house. Always have an exit from each room. Move out onto burnt ground when you can and do not return to the house for any reason. After the fire front passes Continue to wear your personal protective clothing and go outside again as soon as it is safe to extinguish any small fires that may have started Water down the outside of the house, including the roof Drink lots of cool water often even if you don‟t feel thirsty Call family, friends and neighbours to let them know you‟re safe Actively patrol your property for embers for hours after the fire has passed. Places to look for embers include: o on roof lines and in gutters o in garden beds and mulch o around outdoor furniture o in wood heaps o on door mats o in sheds and carports o on verandas and decking o on window ledges and door sills o under the house o inside the roof o under the floor boards. If you‟ve lost your power supply and have frozen food, do your best to try to keep it cold. If food is still cold to touch, less than 5˚ C, it is safe to use Once cold or frozen food is no longer cold to the touch, it can be kept and eaten for up to four hours and then must be thrown out If power is restored when frozen food is still cold to the touch (less than 5˚ C), the food is safe to refreeze. Your back-up plan What is your plan if you are sick or injured? If you are physically unable to defend your property you must consider leaving early on the morning of the predicted Severe or Extreme fire danger day. Leave the night before or early in the morning if conditions are expected to be Code Red. Have you completed a Leaving Early plan for Code Red days? You will need a plan to relocate and need to consider where you will go, how you will get there and what you will take. What is your plan if during the bushfire your house catches fire? Is there alternate shelter on your property? What is your plan if your equipment fails? Consider having back-up equipment.