Act early to be bushfire ready

Dedicated volunteer, Deirdre Lucas from Christmas Hills brigade helping to protect properties

With fire seasons getting more frequent and longer, Warwick Lorenz of Aussie Pumps, advises property owners in the urban interface on adequate precautions needed to protect their property 

It is incumbent on power equipment dealers to not only be aware of the dangers of the urban interface from bushfire but also to help people to be prepared for what could be catastrophic fires this season. It’s understood that insurance companies and even some banks did not offer policies or loans to home and land owners in high fire-prone areas. 

The south coast of New South Wales and some of the areas that were wiped out in Victoria last year had houses that were built right in the middle of forested areas. You can understand why corporations would be reluctant to insure houses built in those locations.

Insurance is all about risk. They bet you won’t get a fire. At the moment, the odds are in favour of the fire, not the insurance company! The one thing property owners in the urban interface can do is to take adequate precautions to protect their property themselves. To expect the rural fire service volunteers, anywhere in the country, with the mighty job they do, to be everywhere at once is obviously ridiculous. To expect that those people, who not only do the incredible job they do but also put their lives at risk as well, to save a property that has not been prepared by the owners, is a big ask.

Simple precautions that we professionals in the industry can teach are covered by Fire Survival Guides issued by companies like Australian Pumps. Their survival guide deals with preparation. That doesn’t mean you should run to your local dealer and buy a pump and hose kit when you smell smoke. It means clearing land around the house, removing stacked fire wood or brush, clearing gutters and being prepared by filling up with water. Of course, making sure there is an adequate water supply near the house, if a pump is to be used to wet down the house surfaces and roof, is a serious preventative step.

Smart operators build a spray system around the house based on the use of a high quality pump with a reliable brand engine. Aussie Pumps have a movie on their website that shows Joe Attard prepping his house at Kenthurst in NSW. Joe lives on the urban fringe and has built a system of irrigation pipes, water storage tanks that throw a complete ‘halo’ around his house to protect it from flying embers. It’s worth watching, and we recommend it to all dealers throughout the country.

One thing is for sure, fire seasons are more frequent and longer. We only have to look at last year’s catastrophic black summer in Australia or what’s happening in California even now. They are still the worst fires ever recorded. Their fire season this year follows hard on the heels of the 2019 fires which were also horrific, but not as bad as 2020. 

We should learn lessons from this. Customers should be encouraged to put water storage tanks of adequate size near their houses and buy an efficient first world pump, so that they’ve got some capability to protect the property.

Clearing material from around the dwelling, sheds or stables is so obvious but one wonders why anybody wouldn’t do it! We love our bush, we love flowers, we love the wildlife but in our world of changing climate, we need to be aware of the very real danger of, “life among the gumtrees”.

Low humidity, days of high temperature, high winds and a build-up of ground fuel is what creates the worst bushfires. The recent rain in some states will only increase the fuel load. Watching moisture stress kick in forested areas as trees drop their leaves just builds that fuel load even more.

It’s important to watch out for the signs. Dealers should warn their customers to be ready, better yet, help them to be prepared. Aussie’s free survival guide is readily available from dealers all over Australia. It’s free, and not restricted to Aussie Pump dealers.