Preventing fire

Preventing fire

By Lidia Boque Gousgouni
01 Feb 2018

As mentioned last week, rural properties have the most chance of exposure to fires simply by location and size of the property. However, even urban properties can also be exposed to spotting embers.

Do you have an avenue of trees up your driveway? If so, could a fire truck access the property quickly andThese trees, although close to the drive, still allow for easy access to a fire truck. The leaves may be a hazard in a fire event. easily if your house or sheds where to catch fire? If planting avenues, consider the size and shape of the trees you select. Columnar plants such as ornamental pear varieties – Pyrus calleryana ‘Capitol’, ‘Chanticleer’ and ‘Red spire’ only have a width of a few metres so can be planted say 3m from the drive. However, many traditional varieties such as Quercus pallustrus (Pin oaks), Ulmus parvifolia (Chinese elms), Sapium sabiferum (Chinese Tallow woods) Lagerstroemia indica (Crepe Myrtle), Fraxinus excelsior (Golden Ash) or Fraxinus angustifolia (Claret Ash) and Eucalyptus varieties (gum trees) to name a few, need more room than they’re usually given and end up growing over the access road. This is fine for cars but could be a problem for fire trucks (not to mention any deliveries or removalists in the event of moving house). Plant spreading trees half to a third of their recommended mature width away from the edge of the drive.

Irrigation systems can be a useful asset in fire prevention. They can keep the vegetation and mulch moist. There are some things to keep in mind though:

1. Usually, you only have enough pressure to operate one or a couple of lines at a time so think about which areas may be most advantageous to moisten if fire is approaching. Do you need to be using the water for roof protection or fighting flames? Are the supply lines above ground or underground? Where is the pump located and has it been tested in recent times?

2. Above ground, risers may be affected if exposed, which may affect the effectiveness of the system or waste water reducing pressure and availability of water supply.

3. Have a look at your garden taps. Do they have plastic or metal risers? Again, plastic risers can melt in fire events rendering them useless and potentially cause a problem with water pressure elsewhere. Consider replacing with metal risers.

4. Pools can be a great asset in a fire event, be prepared your local fire brigade may need to access your pool's water to save neighbouring properties or, in some cases, may simply provide you with a pump to use your pool water to defend your own property. Rainwater tanks can be utilised by the firefighting agency where tankers can get access and supply from these tanks.

The best thing is to undertake prevention work around your home in the garden and lawns to have a safe area for your house. This can be achieved by having a prepared Bush Fire Survival Plan and discussing it with your family and neighbours if need be.

Further information can be found on the CFA website (, NSW Rural Fire Service website ( or the NSW Fire Rescue website (


These trees, although close to the drive, still allow for easy access to a fire truck. The leaves may be a hazard in a fire event.