BUSHFIRE PREVENTION IS A COMMUNITY RESPONSIBILITY
Living in the Adelaide Hills is a lifestyle choice for many of us, the benefits of living in a bush setting are what attract many people to the hills, however the risks of this lifestyle choice can not be ignored, as residents are also vulnerable to the risk of bushfire.
As you live in a high bushfire risk area you can expect several days a year on which you, your family and your house may be threatened by fire. Therefore you need a practical Bushfire Plan to know exactly what you and your family will do on these days.
A Bushfire Action Plan will increase your survival chances and help protect your home.
As each year passes, more and more properties are not prepared for the fire season and not only place themselves at risk, but also neighbours and other members of the community through their ill prepared properties.
It is the responsibility of all landowners, through sound fire prevention practices, to ensure that their land is cleared of fuel loads and homes are protected in the event of a bushfire.
Bushfire prevention is a year round responsibility and necessity. It is far more than a weekend cleanup just prior to the bushfire season.
Because of the scale and risk of fire, CFS cannot guarantee the presence of a fire fighting vehicle and crew to protect every home in a major bushfire, therefore it is extremely important for all property owners to undertake the necessary hazard reduction work around their property in preparation for the Fire Danger Season, remember this has been brought forward this year to 15 November 2008.
Fuel reduction is one of the most important preparations that you can undertake and basic requirements include:-
- Slash or mow grass around the home and out buildings.
- Remove tree limbs, branches, leaf litter, twigs etc from around your home.
- Maintain a 20 metre fuel reduction zone around your home (greater if on a slope).
- Clear around trees and remove dead branches, prune lower limbs and cut back branches overhanging the roof.
Keep gutters and roofs clear of leaf litter, twigs and debris.
- Remove heaps of bark, heavy mulch, wood and any other flammable materials that are close to your home or sheds.
The onus is on people living in fire risk areas to take responsibility for their own safety and security, therefore it is important that a property owner does the necessary hazard reduction work around their property.
Those land owners that ignore the need to prepare their property for the fire danger season not only endanger their own property, but also the lives and property of their neighbours and the community.
If you know of a property that is not prepared for the oncoming fire danger season, contact your local Council and let them know about it. Your call will be handled anonymously, and could make the difference to the safety of your lives and property.
We all have an obligation as a community to work together for the well being of all us.
Information sheets on Bushfire prevention, hazard identification and reduction, and property protection are available from the CFS website at http://www.cfs.org.au/ or you're your local Council.
Remember, a well-prepared home is your best defence
Fire Danger Season - Can I light A Fire?
To help control the bushfire problem during summer and protect lives and property, the CFS has the power to impose restrictions on the lighting of fires through declarations of the Fire Danger Season and Total Fire Bans.
Use of fires in the open during the Fire Danger Season is strictly regulated under the Fire & Emergency Services Act 2005 with local restrictions imposed by Councils.
The penalties for illegally lighting a fire are very severe. You face the possibility of incurring a fine of up to $10,000 or imprisonment for up to two years.
Fire Danger Season restrictions apply throughout all South Australia's 15 fire ban districts, Mt Barker is in the 'MT LOFTY RANGES' District in respect to Fire Ban areas.
The following exemptions will be allowed on any day, OTHER THAN A TOTAL FIRE BAN DAY
A fire for cooking purposes and personal comfort provided that:
The fire is contained in
A properly constructed fire place (the use of Chimaneas is allowed, however the use of Braziers is prohibited).or
A portable appliance exclusively constructed for cooking purposes
A trench at least 300mm deep, AND
The fire does not occupy an area in excess of 1.metre square AND
The ground and air space within a distance of 4. metres from the outer perimeter and upper most point of the burning material is clear of all flammable material, AND
A person who is able to control the fire is present at the time it is lit until the time it is completely extinguished with water or other extinguishing agent on hand.
Comfort or Cooking fires are prohibited on TOTAL FIRE BAN DAYS
On a TOTAL FIRE BAN DAY - Only gas or electric appliances will be allowed for cooking under the following conditions:
- It must be within 15 metres of a dwelling;
- The ground and air space within a distance of 4.metres from the outer perimeter and upper most point of the burning material is clear of all flammable material, AND
- A person who is able to control the fire is present at the time it is lit until the time it is completely extinguished
- All types of BBQ's are prohibited in parks, reserves, ovals, tennis courts, vacant blocks etc.
Note: Rotisserie type cooking (lamb/pig on the spit etc.) is by Council permit only
NEW Bushfire Information Messages
The CFS has developed an information and warning system to keep the community informed about bushfires.
When a bushfire is burning out of control, the weather conditions are extreme and immediate action is needed by the public to ensure their safety, the CFS will issue a BUSFIRE WARNING MESSAGE. This warning will also be given on local radio and placed on the the CFS website
For More Information Contact
CFS INFORMATION HOTLINE 1300 362 361
FOR OTHER INFORMATION Concerning Fireworks or Burning Permits -
Contact your Local Council -
Fire Prevention officer Phone: (61) 08 8391 7200
HOME FIRE SAFETY INFORMATION
If your home was to catch fire ? how would you and your family escape?
Few people understand how quickly a fire takes hold in a house and how destructive it can be. You need to plan and prepare so that if a fire does start everyone knows how to escape quickly and safely.
PLAN AND PREPARE
The first step is to install smoke alarms and make sure that batteries are replaced regularly (including backup batteries on hard-wired smoke alarms). They should be tested monthly and cleaned 6 monthly. (Working smoke alarms will warn you of fire, at any time of the day or night, and give you and your family time to escape safely.
The next step is to bring everyone in your home together to plan what you will do.
When preparing your home fire escape plan consider all of the following points.
- Establish the main and (if possible) secondary routes from each room. Walk through your home and inspect all possible exits. A good, non-threatening way to involve children in the process is to get them to draw a plan of the house showing two exits from every room.
- Are the fire escape routes free of obstacles? Can windows, flyscreens and security grilles be opened easily ? especially by children?
- Security devices installed to prevent a burglary can also restrict or prevent your escape from fire.
- Install deadlocks that can be opened from inside the home without a key or keep keys in the deadlocks when there is anyone at home.
- REMEMBER: the FIRST thing to do when you enter your house is to put a key in each deadlock.
- Make sure that any bars, shutters or grilles have quick release mechanisms on the inside. You must be able to open them quickly in an emergency.
- Keep shoes, torch and a mobile phone or a hard-wired phone beside the bed when you go to bed at night. Remember that if the power to the house fails, a portable phone (ie a cordless or "walkabout" phone which requires electrical power to the base unit) will fail as well.
- Check that electrical appliances are turned off or are operating in a safe condition before you go to bed. If heaters are left on overnight, check that they are in a safe condition and well clear of combustibles. (Possible interference by pets must also be considered).
Home Fire Escape Plan
If you live in a multi-level home or an apartment your Home Fire Escape Plan should include escape routes from upper levels. Do not use lifts if there is a fire. Your best protection is to increase the number of smoke alarms in the house and have them interconnected, to give you maximum warning of fire. Have a mobile phone or a hard-wired phone (not a portable phone) on the upper level if possible.
Portable fire escape ladders are available but they are difficult to use and there are safety concerns associated with their use. If you are trapped in an upper storey, seal the opening around the door and any vents with bedding or clothing, stay by the window and attract the attention of firefighters.
If possible, you should include your family pets in your home fire escape plan. This may simply involve providing a means for your dog or cat to escape. Never put your own life in danger to save a pet.
Make sure that everyone knows the key steps to surviving a fire.
They need to know what the smoke alarm sounds like.
They must get out of the house quickly when they hear the smoke alarm, alerting and assisting others as they go.
They should crawl low under smoke, closing doors behind them as they leave to slow the fire's growth.
They must go to the family meeting area away from the buildings, near the road, in a location that is easy to access (the letterbox is often a good place to choose).
They should phone the Fire Service on "000" using a mobile phone or a neighbour's phone.
Once a head count is done to make sure that everyone is out of the house, a senior family member should remain at the roadside to wait for the Fire Service. This person's job is to tell the firefighters where the fire started (if they know) and whether everyone is out of the house. If someone is missing, they should tell the firefighters who to look for and where they are most likely to be found.
If someone is missing they must never go back into the burning house. Try to reach the missing person from an outside window. Neverre-enter a burning building, and make sure that other family members do not attempt to do so.
Only the person waiting to meet the fire service should stay at the fire. If possible the rest of the family should take shelter with friends or neighbours. This will reduce the trauma of the event and is particularly important in the case of young children.
PRACTISE YOUR PLAN!
Once you have developed your escape plan you must practise what to do if there is a fire. Involve all the people in your home, including the children. You may find that some part of your original plan needs to be changed and it's far better to find out in a practice than when there is a real fire. Make sure that everyone knows what to do and the order they need to do it in.
Run a practice evacuation at regularly to ensure that everybody continues to be familiar with what they have to do. The MFS recommends that you practise your home evacuation every 6 months.
If there is a fire . . .
Get out as quickly as possible. The key is to stay low and crawl under the smoke to the nearest door, alerting and assisting others as you go. Close doors behind you to slow the fire's growth.
If you are in bed, roll out onto the floor and crawl to the door. If it's shut feel the door with the back of your hand. If it's hot then you must use another exit, probably the window. If you can't open the window to escape then break the glass and cover the window sill with a blanket to protect from broken glass. Once you are out knock on the outside of windows to wake anyone left inside.
Go to your meeting place and do a head count. Phone the Fire Service on 000 using a neighbour's phone or a mobile phone.
If anyone is missing try to get them out through the window. DO NOT GO BACK INTO THE HOUSE. The heat and smoke increase very quickly in a burning house. Firefighters wear protective clothing and breathing apparatus. They are equipped and trained to enter a burning building and undertake rescues.