Michelle Buckley stands outisde her home where fire threatened homes at Wardell when it pushed right up to the back of properties at Lindsay Crescent.
Michelle Buckley stands outisde her home where fire threatened homes at Wardell when it pushed right up to the back of properties at Lindsay Crescent. Marc Stapelberg

CHECK LIST: What you need to consider if defending your home

DO YOU have enough information to make an informed decision when it comes to making your bush fire survival plan?

NSW Rural Fire Service has a Bush Fire Household Assessment Tool everyone living in or near bush fire prone areas should carry out.

NSW RFS said the tool is designed to help you make an informed decision when making your bush fire survival plan, such as whether you will leave early, or stay with your property and defend it.

"No matter what your plan, it's important you prepare your home and property. This will give it a greater chance of withstanding a fire," they advised.

Using the tool and entering all 'best case scenario' options to get an idea of what's advised if you are very well prepared for a bush fire, NSW RFS said based on the information provided about being prepared and having the tools, you could be able to stay and defend your home up to a day of Extreme fire danger rating.

They recommended to ensure lawns are watered and mown on high fire danger days.

"If you leave early it is still important to carry out all possible actions to prepare your property from the risk of a bush fire. This will increase the likelihood of your house and neighbouring houses surviving," NSW RFS advice read.

"Under no circumstances is it recommended that you stay and defend your home under Catastrophic fire conditions."

Considering these questions, the RFS is able to provide a detailed report to help you make the decision should it come to it.

HOUSE CONSTRUCTION

  • What type of vegetation poses the greatest risk to your house?
  • From the location of your house, where is the vegetation? (Downslope - Flat - Upslope)

PERSONAL CAPACITY

Will you cope in an emergency situation?

The following questions will help determine whether you are capable of staying in the event of a bush fire.

"If you decide to stay with your home during a fire, it will be physically and mentally demanding. It will be hot and heavy smoke will make it hard to see or breathe," NSW RFS said.

  • How would you rate your physical health?
  • How would you rate your physical stamina to defend your property from a bush fire? Remember you may need to defend your home for several hours in extreme heat and smoke.
  • How would you rate your mobility?
  • How would you rate your mental capacity to endure the conditions of a fire?
  • How would you rate your ability to make decisions under the stress of defending your property from a bush fire for several hours?
  • How many people will be defending the property in the event of a bush fire?
  • Will the people responsible for defending the property also have responsibility for any human dependents, i.e. young, elderly or disabled?
  • Will the people responsible for defending the property also have responsibility for any animal dependents, i.e. commercial stock, horses, domestic pets?
  • Have you made a plan for what to do during a fire and discussed with others in your home?
  • Does the person with the primary responsibility for defending the property have experience or detailed knowledge of defending property during a bush fire?

AVAILABLE EQUIPMENT

Do you have the equipment you need?

  • Do you have hoses that reach all around the buildings to be protected?
  • Do you have spare hoses kept indoors?
  • Do you expect to have reliable mains water during the course of a bush fire?
  • Do you have an independent water supply of more than 10,000L?
  • Do you have multiple points where water can be accessed?
  • What type of water pump do you have? (None - Electric - Petrol - Diesel).
  • Do you have metal rakes, shovels, buckets and mops for putting out fires?
  • Do you have a battery powered radio with fresh batteries?
  • Does your house have gutters?
  • Does the household have eye protection goggles, wide-brimmed hats, sturdy leather shoes or boots, dust mask, gloves, suitable clothes and woollen blankets for everyone defending the property?
  • Will you be able to source 10L of drinking water per person defending the property?

GROUND CONDITION

Is your property is adequately prepared for you to be able to stay with your home?

NSW RFS said your garden landscaping can have a significant influence on whether your home will survive in a bush fire.

"Having a well maintained garden or property can not only reduce the risk of a fire starting on your property, but can also improve your ability to safely attempt to defend your home from a bush fire," they said.

"Whether you decide to leave early, or stay and defend your home, you need to prepare your property. Having a well prepared property will give it a greater chance of withstanding a fire."

  • Are there trees overhanging the roof?
  • Are the branches of all trees around the house more than 2m above the ground?
  • Are there shrubs near to or touching wooden or glass features of the house?
  • No Adjacent Brick Adjacent Timber or Glass
  • Is there dry lawn or grass present within 1m of the house?
  • Is there a doormat that can burn present?
  • Are there any woodpiles next to the house?
  • Is there any outdoor furniture that can burn within 2m of the house or on a wooden deck?
  • Is there a gas BBQ near or next to the house?
  • Are all areas under the house, such as decks, fully enclosed?
  • Are all areas under the house, such as decks, clear of litter and twigs?
  • Are there any wooden sleepers in gardens within 1m of the house?
  • Is your roof in good condition?
  • Are there any gas bottles with release valves facing towards the house?
  • Are there any flammable liquids stored in sheds within 6m of the house?
  • Are there any brushwood fences within a distance of 3 x the height of the fence from the house?
  • Are there any wooden fences within a distance of the height of the fence from the house?
  • Is there leaf or bark mulch in gardens within 2m of the house?

Enter your address and answer the questions at https://assessmyrisk.rfs.nsw.gov.au/.