Grassfire

small grass fireGrass is a fine vegetation type and fire burns through it faster than forest. Grassfires travel and spread very quickly, at times travelling more than 25km an hour.

  • They can generate enormous amounts of heat.
  • The taller and drier the grass, the more intensely it burns.
  • An average flame height from a grassfire would be between 2 to 5 metres.
  • Living in a grassland area with dried-out, brown or goldcoloured grass over 10cm high can be a bushfire risk.
  • Short grass under 10cm is a much lower risk. The shorter the grass the lower the flame height and the easier the fire is to control.
  • Grassland includes pasture, crops, open native grassy woodland as well as those areas
    of open space in and around the suburbs.
  • Grassfires can start accidentally when using machinery such as chainsaws, lawnmowers, tractors, grinders and welders.
  • The hot exhaust of a vehicle parked on a road verge or driving through long, dry grass
    can start a grassfire.

Could grassfire affect you?

Do you, or any of your family and friends:

  • enjoy a picnic in the bush?
  • go for a Sunday drive in the country?
  • horse ride around Canberra?
  • go bushwalking or bird watching?
  • enjoy the thrill of mountain biking?
  • love to camp or 4WD in summer?
  • live close to paddocks or open space?

If you can tick any of the above then grassfire can affect you!

Get informed and find out what you should be doing to keep your family and friends safe from bushfire.

Protecting yourself from grassfire

The speed at which a grassfire can start and spread can catch people off guard.

grassfire behind housesThe radiant heat from a grassfire can kill anyone caught out in the open.

The safest place to be during a grassfire is well away from the threat.

If you are threatened by a grassfire, always protect yourself by covering up all exposed
skin with protective clothing such as:

  1. Long-sleeved shirt and pants made from a natural fibre such as cotton or wool;
  2. Sturdy boots and woollen socks;
  3. Tough leather gloves;
  4. A wide-brimmed hat;
  5. A face mask or towel to cover your mouth and nose; and
  6. Eye protection such as goggles.

You need to shield yourself from radiant heat behind a solid structure such as a building
or large rock outcrop if in the bush etc.

Protecting your home or property from grassfire

Reduce the height and proximity of grass to these buildings and assets by using one or
a combination of the following:

  • Slashing;
  • Mowing;
  • Grazing;
  • Spraying and poisoning vegetation; or
  • Creating fuel breaks by removing all fuel (vegetation) down to the soil.

Narrow fuel breaks will not stop a fire. Fire breaks should be at least 20 m wide, this
could be 10m each side of a fence line.

hazard reduction burn with foam

Hazard reduction burn with foam

It is important that you create and maintain a clear space around all the assets you want
to protect so you can defend them as safely as possible. By carefully reducing and managing the grass and other vegetation in this space you are also limiting the ability of a
moving grassfire to ignite a building through direct contact with flame or radiant heat.

It is too late to begin spraying and slashing as a fire approaches, so PREPARE now.

During the official Fire Danger Period it is important that if using machinery with an internal combustion or heat engine in or near grass, crops, stubble, weeds or other vegetation that you:

  1. Ensure it is free from any faults and mechanical defects that could start a fire;
  2. Ensure it is fitted with an approved spark arrestor;
  3. Carry a working water fire extinguisher or knapsack of at least 9 litre capacity; and
  4. Carry a dry chemical extinguisher suitable for normal combustible and electrical fires.

This page was last modified on September 22nd, 2011