Time to prepare properties ahead of the bushfire season

Representatives from Embersafe demonstrate how its fire suppression agent could help protect infrastructure threatened by fire.
Representatives from Embersafe demonstrate how its fire suppression agent could help protect infrastructure threatened by fire.

With bushfire season approaching now is the time for residents to prepare their properties and put in place a bushfire plan in case of an emergency.

Last summer, Injidup and Yallingup residents fled their homes when an arsonist lit multiple fires that sparked a police investigation.

A bushfire on the outskirts of Perth destroyed 86 homes travelling 26 kilometres from its source within four days. A man was charged by police for allegedly using an axel grinder which is believed to have sparked and caused the blaze.

Department of Fire and Emergency Services Lower South West acting superintendent Nathan Hall said the national seasonal bushfire outlook for summer, which was expected to be finalised next month, would provide an overview of the likely conditions forecast for the Western Australia bushfire season.

"However, all it takes is for one hot and windy day for a bushfire to rapidly escalate and threaten life and property and everyone needs to take the time to prepare for bushfire season," he said.

"Having a bushfire plan will help you take action and avoid making last-minute decisions that could prove deadly during a bushfire.

"If you live near bushland you need to prepare your property for the bushfire season.

"Prepare your home and clear the immediate area around your home by pruning trees, cutting long grass, clearing your gutters and removing rubbish.

"Install a mesh guard on your evaporative air conditioner and block any gaps under floor spaces, in the roof and under eaves to keep sparks and embers out.

"If you intend to conduct any planned burning as part of your fire preparations, it's vital you create a burn plan using the Burn SMART checklist and Burn SMART Guide."

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Mr Hall said residents should always contact their local government before burning to check the rules or regulations for the area and the time of year.

"It is also recommended you have an emergency kit ready to go in case you are evacuated or cut off during a bushfire including essential supplies such as a battery operated radio," he said.

"You should only stay and defend your property if you are well-prepared and have independent power and water supplies.

"There is a range of equipment needed including an independent water supply of at least 20,000 litres, a generator and sufficient fuel to power a pump and a firefighting or pressure pump that can operate up to 400 litres per minute flow and is shielded from high temperature.

"For a complete list of recommended equipment and information about preparing your property visit dfes.wa.gov.au/bushfire."

Last week representatives from a company called Embersafe were in Yallingup to demonstrate to residents how its fire suppression agent could help prevent structures from burning in a fire.

Embersafe operations manager Barrie McKinnon said the product was developed in the US and was widely used there and across Europe.

"It is gaining momentum in the mining industry here," he said.

Mr McKinnon said their product was an encapsulating agent that reduced the flammability of structures and surrounding bushland.

"You could have a sprinkler system on your home that would disperse the product onto the building and surrounding bushland that would nullify the fire and stop ember attacks," he said.

"You cannot guarantee everything but it is the best way to prevent it, you could have ember attacks from up to five kilometres away.

"Sometimes people have infrared and heat detecting sensors on their properties, it depends on your budget.

"It is hard to see five kilometres away through a forest but people can have heat sensors on their boundary lines or install reticulation systems for fire suppression."

Natural Hazards Research Australia chief executive Dr Richard Thornton said they knew from their research that one of the best things people could do for bushfire preparation was to make a bushfire plan and discuss it with their family.

"Don't be vague of the details in your plan and account for worst case scenarios, " he said.

"If you're leaving early, what are your triggers to leave? Where will you go, and how will you get there? Think about multiple routes in case roads are blocked.

"This applies not just to residents, but travellers too, especially during holiday times.

"Our research also shows it is important to include your children in planning to help them prepare, and don't forget about your pets, animals and livestock too."