If You Choose to Stay
Tasmania Fire Service recommends that you should not plan to defend your home when the fire danger rating exceeds 50 (severe) in your area unless you have created a defendable space and ember-proofed your home.
Tasmania Fire Service recommends that you should not plan to defend your home when the fire danger rating exceeds 75 (extreme) in your area unless your home has a defendable space and has been designed and built specifically to withstand a bushfire.
Tasmania Fire Service recommends that you should not plan to defend your home on days when the fire danger rating exceeds 100 (catastrophic) in your area, even if your home has a defendable space and has been designed and built specifically to withstand a bushfire.
Exceptions to these rules are when firefighters have assessed (triaged) your home on the day a fire is threatening it, and have advised you that it may be defendable. This recognises that even on days with severe, extreme or catastrophic fire danger ratings, some well-prepared and constructed homes may be defendable due to their location. For example, a home surrounded by several hectares of ripening crops, ploughed fields or heavily-grazed paddocks may be safe to defend.
If staying to defend your home against bushfires, it's important to protect yourself from radiant heat and from the numerous embers the fire will generate.
Wearing the clothing you would normally wear on a hot summer day will not provide you with protection during a bushfire.
Wear clothing made from natural fibres (cotton or wool), such as overalls or a long sleeved cotton shirt and cotton trousers or jeans. Wear leather boots and a wide-brimmed hat or safety helmet. Cotton or leather gardening gloves will protect your hands, and goggles or safety glasses will help keep sparks and embers out of your eyes. A good dust-mask will help protect your throat and lungs.
If you create a defendable space around your home and choose to stay and defend it, your chances of success will improve if you have some basic tools available.
As a minimum, you should have a ladder for access to roof gutters and into the roof space, a torch for moving safely inside the roof space, a hose and fittings, a rake and a strong bucket. A wet mop can be handy for putting out embers and small fires.
If you can't rely on mains water and have an alternative supply, you should purchase a small firefighting pump and hose. Look under 'fire protection equipment' in the Yellow Pages. A pump kit should include the pump and its petrol or diesel-driven motor, a suction hose, strainer and float (to get water to the pump), sufficient 19 mm or 25 mm diameter firefighting hose or 19 mm garden hose to reach around all sides of your home, a firefighting nozzle for each, and spare fuel. Practice using the equipment regularly.
Protecting your home
The biggest threats to your home in a bushfire are radiant heat and burning embers. The defendable space you have created will reduce the radiant heat to acceptable levels. However, you need to defend your home against 'ember attack'.
Embers will build up on horizontal surfaces, particularly in corners. They can enter your home through small gaps around windows and door frames, eaves, cladding and roofing. Timber decks can be ignited, particularly if embers can build up beneath them.
Use available water resources to extinguish any build-up of sparks and embers that might ignite your home. Also extinguish any spot-fires that threaten your home, and any parts of your home that catch fire. Use water sparingly.
During the fire, make sure that the pump and hose are protected from high ambient temperatures and radiant heat and sheltered from embers and sparks. Any exposed plastic pipes and fittings should already have been buried below ground or covered so they won't melt.
As the fire front passes, you may need to shelter inside from the radiant heat and ember attack. If possible, keep clear of large windows on the side of the house nearest the fire, or you may be injured by breaking glass.
The coolest place is likely to be on the side of the house furthest from the fire. Don't shelter in a part of the house you cannot easily escape from if your home catches fire, such as the bathroom, which often has windows too small to squeeze through.
Smaller fire-fighting pumps should be taken inside as the main fire front passes. Larger fixed pumps should be protected with a non-combustible cover or pump-housing.
You should complete the 'Stay' section of your bushfire survival plan. Your contingency plan should include identification of nearby safer places you can go to at the last minute if you are caught by surprise and can't make your final preparations, the fire is fiercer than expected, you run out of water, or your home catches fire and it's unsafe to shelter in it.
Relying on nearby safer places in these circumstances is not necessarily a safe option, and they should only be relied on as a last resort.If you've chosen to stay, use this handy checklist to make final preparations to defend your home:
2. Dress in protective clothing.
3. Drink water every 10 minutes to avoid dehydration.
4. Clear roof gutters of leaves, and sweep or rake leaves from decks and lawns near the house.
5. Block your downpipes (a sock full of soil/sand will help) and fill your gutters with water.
6. Move flammable outdoor furniture, doormats and hanging baskets away from your home.
7. Close all doors and windows, remove curtains, and close shutters if you have them.
8. Put tape across the inside of windows so they remain in place if broken.
9. Fill the bath and any buckets and containers with water.
10. Put a ladder inside, to access the roof space.
11. Connect garden hoses and prepare your firefighting pump or generator.
12. Extinguish any sparks, embers and spot fires burning on or close to your home. A hose or a wet mop is handy for this.
13. Don't stand on the roof with your hose. In bushfires, often more people are injured falling from roofs than suffer burn injuries.
14. Don't waste water wetting down roofs and walls. Use the water only for extinguishing burning material.
15. Ensure all family members and pets are safe. You should consider relocating children and pets well before the fire arrives.
When the fire arrives:
1. If you need to shelter, store your pump and firefighting hose where it won't get burnt.
2. Take a garden hose and fittings inside and fit them to a tap in the laundry.
3. Check around the inside of your house constantly for fire, including in the roof space.
4. If fire breaks out, extinguish it using water you have collected in the bath and in buckets, or with a hose attached to your laundry taps.
Once the fire has passed:
1. Extinguish any part of your house that is alight. Your neighbours may be able to help.
2. Check under the house and any decks, on the roof and inside the roof space. Check around window frames and door jambs, and under the eaves for any fire.
3. Sparks and embers will continue to fall, so keep checking for several hours.
4. Have a drink of water every 10 minutes to avoid dehydration.
Reduce fuel loads
The fire approaches
When the fire arrives, shelter inside