Monday, December 1, 2014


Renters can be greatly restricted in preparing their home to be safer from a bushfire, because of not being allowed to make alterations to buildings. But there is still much you can do.

Remember, the 3 core aspects of a house vulnerable to ember entry are the subfloor area, windows, and roof space. See earlier post on this.

The SUBFLOOR area is a danger when there is a space between the ground and floorboards: especially if this part enclosed by timber gap-boards. Burning debris can be carried through this.
Metal flywire can protect both subfloor and windows. Nail it over gap-boards, and the outside of window glass. This stops burning leaves and spark entry, and hinders cracking by radiant heat.

Cover gap-boards with metal flywire. remove shrubs and flammable woodchip mulch.

WINDOWS may need stronger protection if you are in an area close to forest and subject to strong winds. Protect them from being smashed and letting in a massive ember shower by making removable shutters. Attach these on days of high fire danger, as a precaution.
Temporary Shutter Ideas:
* Make a sandwich of fibreglass/mineral-wool batts or foil, pressed between sheets of 9 mm plasterboard, 19 mm hardboard, fibre-cement, corrugated iron, steel mesh or chicken wire. Attach by screws, hooks or velcro.
* Use a strong old aluminium security door.
* A roller blind of heavy duty foil protects from radiant heat and mild impact.
* If criss-crossed with adhesive tape, glass stays intact if cracked by radiant heat.
Each of these will withstand a short burst of high fire-front heat.

Bamboo blinds catch embers and can lead fire into the roof space.

The ROOF-CEILING SPACE is vital. It needs a thorough preparatory clean out, and careful watch for ember entry during a threat. This can be difficult to achieve when a rent house does not have any inspection trapdoor. Explain to your landlady or agent the dire potential for house destruction from this area and the great protection to their asset by installing an inspection trapdoor. 

GOOD GARDEN MANAGEMENT is usually possible. It will reduce potential radiant heat. Slash, mow, rake, prune, tidy. Replace wood chip mulch with compost, earth or pebbles. Move woodheaps and rubbish away from house and put under cover.

YOUR PRECIOUS POSSESSIONS can be left with a friend in the suburbs, put in storage, a hole in the ground. Copy computer files to an external hard drive or high-GB memory stick. 

For YOUR PERSONAL SAFETY, whether defending or evacuating, wear protective clothing and have a pure wool blanket.

Note that not even renters can legally be forced to evacuate. In Victoria, at least, if people have any monetary interest in a property or its contents, neither police nor fire officers have a legal right to order anyone to leave.  

More help in Essential Bushfire Safety Tips and The Complete Bushfire Safety Book at on Facebook