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Northern Territory Cattlemen's Association

Ensuring You Are Ready for Bushfire

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Bushfires and the Australian landscape

Bushfires are an unfortunate way of life for many Australians, a part of living on such an arid island, but while some people are lucky, and able to rebuild and add water storage for bushfire protection after an incident, it is better to be prepared before. As the old adage goes, prevention is better than the cure.

A well prepared home is not only easier for you and firefighters to defend, it also helps reduce the risk for your neighbours, and increase your chances of survival if you are forced to shelter within the home.

Prepare your home

Ensure that you have a building protection zone as a buffer between any trees and shrubs, and your home, by managing and reducing fuel loads for a minimum of 20 metres around a building. Ensuring that any trees within this zone are located at least two metres from a building, and are skirted or pruned up to a height of 2 metres.

Understand your risk

Considering factors specific to your location can be crucial in understanding the risk to your home, and the extent of fire protection measures you’re likely to need.

These factors include; how long the fire season is, and when it takes place, if you live on or near a steep slope, how much vegetation is near your home, including grasses, scrub and bushland, how dry the vegetation is, how often you have bushfires in the area, and how good the roads are at providing ease of movement through the area.

Undertake routine maintenance of your yard

Simple measures undertaken weekly or monthly could potentially save lives and homes. Ensuring that your roofs and gutters are kept free of leaf litter, as well as verandas and steps. This goes for the yard as well. Ensuring that any possible leaf litter or other potential fuel is swept up and disposed of can be crucial, as can keeping grasses and lawns close to the home mown to a short length and well-watered.

Not only is high quality water storage, such as a steel rainwater tank important to your firefighting efforts, it is important to routinely ensure that all pumps, taps and hoses are in good working order, to ensure that they will not fail you when you need them.

Access to adequate water supplies will enable you to protect your home and property in the event of a bushfire. Where mains water is not available, or extra security is desired, a steel water tank should be installed. Dams and swimming pools can also serve as buffers between a home and bushfire.

Do a scheduled walk around the home, imagining that a bushfire is approaching, and keep an eye out for anything within 20 metres of the house that could potentially become a fire trap in the case of bushfire. Remove these objects, or place them outside of the 20m perimeter.

Installing shutters on windows, and making sure there are no gaps in the roof or walls can also provide valuable protection from the threat of fire.

 

Water Tanks – A vital tool in fire protection

The Department of Fire and Emergency Services recommends that any water storage tank on a rural property be made of concrete or steel, and that any supply pipes should be flame and water resistant, as exposed PVC pipes and fittings will melt in the heat of a bushfire.

In a study done by the Bushfire Cooperative Research Centre, in collaboration with the CSIRO, it was found that steel construction tanks – specifically a Pioneer Water Tank – perform best when exposed to bushfire conditions.

Where possible, fittings, couplings and adaptors for the tank should match specifications for fitting onto fire trucks.

Pioneer Water Tanks offer fire protection valves, and a fire reserve option, to ensure there is always water available to assist local fire authorities in having access to water if your home is threatened by bushfire.

Before installing a fire protection valve, it is important to check in with your local shire and/or bush fire brigade to know your particular requirements.

Water Tanks following a fire front

The time immediately after a fire has been through a property is when water is desperately needed for stock watering and possible further firefighting. The internal tank liner may melt in places above the water level, however the tank itself is structurally secure and the remaining water is available for use.

Following the direct immersion of a tank in a fire front, the tank water should not be used for human consumption as there will be some pollution in the water from ash and other fire debris, plus from the melted liner above the water line. The remaining water will be ok to retain in the short term for stock watering and firefighting.

It’s also important to point out that if a fire only passes on one side of a Pioneer tank, the panels are modular, so if they are damaged they can be replaced as required. Small areas of heat damage on the tank liner can be patched, or the liner can be replaced. Your local Pioneer dealer can make this assessment and develop a plan of action to get your tank back into full service as soon as possible.

It is recommended that a Pioneer Water Tanks dealer be engaged to assess a fire affected tank to determine the extent of the damage. On severely fire affected tanks it can be difficult to determine the extent of damage to the steel coatings and the effect of intense heat on structural integrity.

Severely fire affected tanks may be deemed to be beyond cost effective repair due to potential loss of structural integrity and the recommendation may be made to replace the tank. If customers choose to ignore this recommendation and request that their tank be repaired, then a “Fire Waiver” can be completed to proceed to repair the tank.

This will enable a repair to be made, rather than a complete tank replacement, at the discretion and liability of the owner, however the tank is no longer covered by Pioneer’s product warranty.

 

For information on fire tanks, contact Pioneer Water Tanks on 1800 941 022 today.

 

 

 

 

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