Do you Live, Work or Play in a Bushfire Area?
We are lucky to live in the Bush Capital and enjoy all the benefits that brings, though this also means we live with the threat of bushfire across much of the city. It’s not just about where our homes are located, so many of us work, travel and play in bushland on a daily basis.
Have a look at the bushfire prone area map to see how much of your life is spent in some of these high risk areas, then explore the our tips and information on what you can do to keep yourself, your family, and your property safe.
Link to ACTMapi
Learn more about how you can keep yourself, your family, and your property safe
Bushfire Survival Plan
We’ll guide you through four simple steps to make sure you have a plan ready if you need it – DISCUSS, PREPARE, KNOW, KEEP. By taking 20 minutes with your family to discuss what you’ll do during a fire, you could save their lives, as well as your home.
Get the best information when it matters most
During incidents there is plenty of information flying around, from so many different place and people. When you’re in the ACT, make sure you have the correct and most current information to help you with your decisions during a bushfire. We recommend you make these sources your go to:
Fires Near Me
This app provides information on current fires across the country through a live data feed from emergency management agencies. It will use your location to show you fires in the area, and information about the status, size, and warnings.
Let’s decipher bushfire warning messages
A bushfire alert is issued to community members likely to be affected by a bushfire that has taken hold.
It’s important you get to know what these alerts mean for you and your family well before the bushfire season starts.
REMEMBER – bushfires can start and spread extremely quickly. This means there may be situations where there is no time for any warning to be issued, or you may not always hear the 3 levels of alert in consecutive order.
Fire danger ratings and what they mean for you
The bushfire danger ratings give you an indication of the possible consequences of a fire, if one were to start in those conditions. The ratings are based on predicted conditions and take into account things like temperature, humidity, wind, and the dryness of the landscape.
The higher the fire danger rating, the more dangerous the conditions are for fire.
Low-Moderate – Review your bushfire survival plan with your family. Keep yourself informed and monitor conditions. Be ready to act if necessary.
High – Review your bushfire survival plan with your family. Keep yourself informed and monitor conditions. Be ready to act if necessary.
Very High - Review your bushfire survival plan with your family. Keep yourself informed and monitor conditions. Be ready to act if necessary.
Severe – Leaving early is the safest option for your survival. Well prepared homes that are actively defended can provide safety – but only stay if you are physically and mentally prepared to defend in these conditions. If you’re not prepared, leave early in the day.
Extreme – Leaving early is the safest option for your survival. If you are not prepared to the highest level, leave early in the day. Only consider staying if you are prepared to the highest level – such as your home is specially designed, constructed or modified, and situated to withstand a fire, you are well prepared and can actively defend it if a fire starts.
Catastrophic - For your survival, leaving early is the only option. Leave bush fire prone areas the night before or early in the day – do not just wait and see what happens. Make a decision about when you will leave, where you will go, how you will get there and when you will return. Homes are not designed to withstand fires in catastrophic conditions so you should leave early.
Preparing Your Home for Bushfire
A well prepared home is more likely to survive a bush fire.
Even if your plan is to leave early, the more you prepare your home, the more likely it will survive a bush fire or ember attack. A well prepared home can also be easier for you or firefighters to defend, and is less likely to put your neighbours' homes at risk. A well prepared home will also give you more protection if a fire threatens suddenly and you cannot leave.
Here are some basic maintenance tips to prepare your property:
- Clean your gutters of leaves and twigs
- Install metal gutter guards
- Repair damaged or missing tiles on the roof
- Install fine metal mesh screens on windows and doors
- Fit seals around doors and windows to eliminate gaps
- Enclose the areas under the house
- Repair or cover gaps in external walls
- Attach a fire sprinkler system to gutters
- Keep lawns short and gardens well maintained
- Cut back trees and shrubs overhanging buildings
- Clean up fallen leaves, twigs and debris around the property
- Have hoses long enough to reach around your house
- If you have a pool, tank or dam, put a Static Water Supply (SWS) sign on your property entrance, so firefighters know where they can get water
- Check and maintain adequate levels of home and contents insurance. Ensure it is up to date.
In the rural areas
Our Community Protection Team works alongside the rural community to support their preparedness and response for bushfires. Leaseholders in the ACT have an obligation to prevent fire occurring or spreading from their properties, and we provide the tools for them to assess the risks that are present and plan steps to best mitigate to protect themselves and the wider community.
Horses and Bushfire
Canberra currently has the highest number of horse owners per capita of any city in Australia with over 1000 horses currently kept on agistment centres.
Many horse owners spend a lot of time with their horses, and in doing so are placing themselves in locations of high risk from bushfire.
This, coupled with the tragic first hand experiences at horse agistment properties during the 2003 bushfires led the ACT Rural Fire Service to commission a study into the bushfire operational planning of ACT horse agistment properties (Hightailing it into the fire – Bushfire planning on ACT horse agistment centres).
The study aimed to gain a better understanding of this industry and their needs, based on knowledge of their current bushfire planning practices. This allows the ACT Rural Fire Service to provide more relevant and effective support and assistance to this key stakeholder group, providing accurate and helpful information to its members on bushfire.
The findings clearly demonstrated that horse agistment managers face a complex task in preparing and planning for the event of fire on their properties. However, it was not only their responsibility but a shared one across the industry; from horse agistment owners/managers, horse owners and the ACT Government through the ACT Rural Fire Service and Government horse paddocks.
Recommendations have been divided into three sections:
- Agistment owners and managers;
- Agistors; and
- ACT Rural Fire Service.
People who agist their horses on fire prone land need to plan for their own safety in the event of bushfire.