As apartment living becomes increasingly the norm and bushfire seasons get longer and more intense, strata residents must become accustomed to the fact that bushfires do not just threaten regional properties but can easily a bear down on heavily populated suburbia.
Ember attacks can occur kilometres ahead of where a fire originates or where a property is in the vicinity of bushland, forest, grassland or coastal scrub.
Bottom line – you do not need to be located in a rural area for your strata property to be at risk from a bushfire and the Body Corporate has an important role to play in ensuring bushfire preparedness and safety awareness in their building’s community.
So, ask yourself…is your strata property prepared for a for a bushfire?
To assist in preparing for the bushfire season, we have set out some helpful tips to ensure you are in the best position possible, should you face the threat of a bushfire.
Ensure insurance is adequate
Every year brings the risk of bushfires. It is crucial that your insurance is enough to adequately protect your property assets.
To help avoid a significant financial losses Bodies Corporate should ensure their strata building is insured for the full replacement and reinstatement value and check that personal contents Sums Insured are up-to-date.
If you are unsure of the adequacy of your insurance, get in touch with your Body Corporate Manager.
Tidy up the property
Dry vegetation and waste can act as fuel in a fire.
Tips to prevent fires:
- Remove leaves and twigs from roof gutters
- Ensure the grass is cut to a length less than 10cm
- Clean up dead branches, leaves, and grass clippings from lawns and garden beds
- Ensure all dry materials have been properly disposed of
- Store any flammable fuels away from the buildings
It is recommended to have a 20m ‘circle of safety’ around buildings to prevent fires, this can depend on the property. All properties should ensure their yards and gardens are free of combustible waste.
Ideally you should be on top of this before fire season, but it’s never too late to protect you and your property.
Have a bushfire plan
Too many residential buildings don’t have a bushfire plans in place.
All at-risk properties should have a clear bushfire plan. A thorough bushfire plan can help you establish clarity on:
- When to leave
- Where to evacuate to
- What to take with you in the event of an evacuation.
It is essential to ensure that you have a plan in place to prevent individuals being unprepared and evacuating at the last-minute.
If you would like further information on preparing a bushfire emergency plan, consult with your relevant local fire authority.
For more advice on creating your own Bushfire Survival Plan, click here.
The Bureau of Meteorology (BoM) consults with state fire authorities Australia-wide, publishing danger ratings designed to inform the community of potential fire hazards each day in their local area.
Whether your property is in, or on the outskirts of an ‘at-risk area’, it’s important to ensure you:
- Understand the different types of fire ratings,
- Regularly check with your local fire authority for updates,
- Are prepared to evacuate in the event of an emergency.
Understand bushfire danger ratings
Ensure you are familiar with the meaning of different Bushfire Alerts levels and Fire Danger Ratings. This will help determine when to trigger the Bushfire Survival Plan.
Further information regarding Fire Danger Ratings and Alert Levels can be obtained here
Radio, Social Media and Emergency SMS
A local ABC AM or designated emergency radio station can provide key information for residents regarding bushfires and areas under threat. Twitter feeds and other social media updates are equally as helpful in relaying information during a bushfire.
Recognise the following mobile number – 0444 444 444. Emergency Alert Australia can send out state-wide or area-specific texts alerting affected residents to impending fire threats, the appropriate action to take, as well as a telephone number and website where residents can obtain more information.
You can find further information on preparing your property for the bushfire season here.
Help firefighters with water supply
Swimming pools and water tanks may serve as a vital water supply for firefighters. If your property has bulk water storage, display a Static Water Supply (SWS) sign at the property entrance.
Whether you are a manager, tenant or owner of a property everyone has their part to play in bushfire safety.
As a member of the Body Corporate it is your responsibility to ensure essential safety measures are in place and well maintained
Essential safety measures are a building’s fist line of defence when an incident like a bushfire occurs and require ongoing care and maintenance.
There can be many elements that make up essential bushfire safety measures. It’s important that managers and residents work together
At the end of the day the safety of residents is paramount, and these measures are designed to help.