A combination of dry winters and hot summer days can make our bush extremely dangerous, especially in summer. While it is impossible to completely fireproof your home, there are a number of things that you can design into your house and garden to reduce risk.
Fire safety can be improved by preventing wind borne burning debris igniting buildings. This debris can pile up against timber or other combustible materials in or near the home and rapidly create an inferno.
To minimise these risks, your house design should consider the following elements:
- Consider leaf free gutters or metal guards;
- Avoid structures built of combustible materials attached directly to the house;
- Box in or screen eaves and vents with metal flywire;
- Tightly fitting roof coverings with no openings; and
- Maintaining a clear area immediately around the house with paving, short lawn or low ground cover.
Suitable garden design will also assist in minimising fire risk. For example, you should plant trees at a distance from the house to ensure that limbs and branches do not overhang the roof and gutters do not fill up with dead leaves. Wood piles should be kept inside a metal shed.
Plants with broad fleshy leaves and a low volatile oil or resin content are less flammable. Also plants with dense foliage, smooth bark, salt retention ability and minimal dry material build up are more suitable in areas of high fire risk.
Finally the planting of fire-resistant trees and shrubs as hedges can provide a windbreak on the side from which the worst fires can be expected. These trees should not touch each other.
For further information you may wish to contact FESA (Fire and Emergency Service Authority) on 1800 199 084 www.fesa.wa.gov.au.