Monday, November 4, 2013

Community Busfire Shelters

A big problem with relying on any bushfire shelter is how to get there safely.
A huge danger of such refuges is travel to them by outlying evacuees.
Travel to a bushfire refuge should never be acted on as a ‘last resort’.
A decision to seek refuge away from home must be a pre-planned bushfire response.

Community bushfire shelters need:
Multiplicity, so that outlying evacuees can reach one safely in a short time.
- A central situation within a built-up township is of limited use to outer residents.
Solid building with protected windows and doors, secure roof and sheltered exits.
Roof  structurally strong enough to withstand winds over 150 km/h.
Clear of flammable vegetation for at least 40m. Entirely clear of wood-chip mulch.
                Ventilation that does not admit smoke.
                Roof and ground sprinklers.
Large reserve water supply, independent of mains pressure.
Space to accommodate local evacuees plus tourists.
Access early on each day of announced bushfire danger and for its duration.
Facilities for water, food and rest.         Amenities for babies and the frail.
      Sufficient toilets.                                     Shade and water for pets.
      First aid and firefighting equipment.
      Sufficient parking, clear of flammable trees, grass, woodchips, etc.
Public recognition that:
Vacated houses of shelterers have a high incidence of unimpeded ignition.

Some safety is provided by  Tunnels.  Brick toilet blocks. 

Questionable safety provided by
Open spaces such sports’ grounds, parks, race tracks and beaches.
Disadvantage of exposure to heat, smoke, showers of embers.

    Neighbourhood Safer Places

The 2009 Royal Commission’s concept of Neighbourhood Safer Places
as community bushfire shelters is fundamentally flawed.

* A huge danger (as with all refuges) is how to get to them safely when a fire is in the area, 
   with flying embers starting spot fires, and trees falling.
* They are defined as ‘places of last resort’ to go to ‘during the passage of a fire’ 
   – which is the very most dangerous time to be outside, let alone travelling, and against 
all bushfire authority safety advice.
* They need have no amenities - even water - not cater for animals, and need not have 
features that offer any more safety than a well-prepared house.
* If  they are open spaces, refugees will be exposed to hot ash and embers falling on them 
and breathing thick smoke.
* They will not be available for early evacuation, for all-day, or night-time use.
* Anyone who does use an NSP 
– please remember to take a heavy-duty pure wool blanket and drinking water with you.

The safest ‘shelter of last resort’ is a pure wool blanket.
 Extract from Essential Bushfire Safety Tips (CSIRO)