As a country that experiences high temperatures, lightning storms and drought, Australia, as shown by the devastation currently sweeping through our nation, is extremely prone to dangerous and destructive bushfires. Before we get into the details of this article, if you would like to help those in need during this truly devastating bushfire season, click here for the NSW Rural Fire Service, here for the Victoria Rural Fire Service and here for Queensland.
If you happen to live in a bushfire area or are planning to build in a bushfire area, there are several vital measures to take to ensure the safety of you and your family.
First of all, you must have an understanding of how prone your area (or potential area) is to bushfires. Begin with this interactive map created by the Rural Fire Service and Queensland government. This interactive map allows you to enter a postcode or address which will then show up on the map highlighted a certain colour depending on how likely or unlikely it is that a bushfire could occur. Your local council has requirements if your house is in a “bushfire prone area” and a Development Approval may be required as well as a Building Approval. As an example, Brisbane City Council has bushfire overlays which can trigger certain requirements.
Next, you need to be aware of the measures that you should take to keep your house secure. The Rural Fire Service state that you should combine 3 different approaches and methods in order to achieve maximum security in a bushfire area:
Situate your house correctly
Create barriers and buffer zones around your home
Using the appropriate design and construction methods and materials for new residential buildings.
Below are tips and government regulations for building in bushfire-prone areas:
✓ Construct the exterior walls of your home with materials that are non-combustible like concrete or veneer.
✓ Seal all of your roof and wall joints to protect your home from embers.
✓ Use toughened glass for your windows or install shutters made form a non-combustible metal like aluminium.
✓ Avoid installing plastic vents, pipes and gutters. Opt for using metal instead.
✓ Use fire-resistant timber for your door frames and place a weather strip at the bottom.
✓ Construct your roof using a non-combustible material as well as any decking or verandas.
✓ If building a new home use a steel frame system.
✓ Try to leave a 5-meter path between your house and garden. Also, opt for fire retardant plants in your garden like bush honeysuckles and shrub plants. Also, choose plants and trees with minimal small branches that can potentially break off and spark during a bushfire.
✓ Strategically position any pools or paved areas in such a way that will prevent possible fires spreading to your house.
Some of the above pointers are simple tips, and some are required by law in certain areas, so make sure you research the regulations laid out by your local and state government.
At Total Lifestyle Builders, we are dedicated to supporting the Rural Fire Services as well as helping to create a safe home extension that suits the needs of you and your family. To learn more about how we can help you, get in touch with us today!