Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Grassfire should not require evacuation

Tonight’s fire authority news communiqué: 
 to prepare evacuation plans from grassfires, 
is as dangerous as it is ridiculous.

The danger to people from grass fire comes from the radiant heat of its flames, not from any great likelihood of house ignition.
Grass fires start unexpectedly, and move quickly. Even in mild weather. It will be impossible for any household to plan to leave home at the recommended safe time: the night before (or even early in the morning before) a grass fire threatens.

Residents leaving their house when a grassfire is approaching, 
especially if lightly clad, 
risk almost instant death from radiant heat.

What is needed during grassfire threat is shelter from exposure to its intense flame front.  Staying put in the house can give that.

In the vast majority of situations, homes can be safely protected from grassfire.
Their wind-blown embers seldom land further than 100 m ahead. Unlike the high-flying embers or fire-brands of a forest fire, these glowing seed-heads do not have the power to readily enter and ignite a house.
A house is highly unlikely to be ignited by a grassfire unless two avoidable factors exist:
* flammable plants growing against flammable cladding;
* considerable  height of the burning grass.
Both these factors can readily be counteracted by residents and municipal councils.

For those who do not wish to actively defend their home, their safest action is to shelter by an door that exits form the side of the house away from the approaching grassfire.
Both shelterers and defenders should be equipped with the personal protection of strong, cover-all clothing and a heavy-duty pure wool blanket.
Your plans for safety from grassfire should include cutting or poisoning adjacent grass, and removing flammable vegetation from alongside the house.

Plans for safety from any kind of bushfire include making sure that - for every day of summer - water is available for deployment to all sides of the house; that protective clothing is conveniently ready to pull on; and that each person makes themselves as knowledgeable as possible about safe reaction – whether for evacuation, defence or shelter.

Essential Bushfire Safety Tips 
details all the hazards of, and safety action to take, during grass and forest fires