How To

How to: Prepare for a bushfire

According to the Department of Fire and Emergency Services, 90% of WA is bushfire prone. So, wherever you live, being prepared for bushfires is vital to the safety of your family, home and neighbourhood.

Bushfires are a reality of living in Australia, with fires each year devastating the North of WA from June to October and the South from October to April.

Unfortunately, we can’t avoid bushfires, so it’s imperative that residents put in the time to prepare themselves and their properties.

Being prepared means having a plan in place, and ensuring your home and family are prepared to act.

1. Make a plan

DFES has developed a Bushfire plan app to step you through the decision-making, planning and implementation of your bushfire plan. Visit mybushfireplan.wa.gov.au to find out more.

2. Understand your risk

It’s important to understand your environment and plan accordingly. The DFES website provides detail on how to evaluate your risk and a map of bushfire prone areas.

3. Know your fire danger rating and the bushfire alerts

Knowing the current fire danger ratings and understanding the bushfire alerts and warnings ensures you’re informed and ready to act.

4. Prepare an emergency kit

In the event of an emergency, every second counts. Having essential supplies ready to go will help you make the most of those precious seconds. DFES has a useful checklist, available here and provided additional information on preparing an emergency kit here.

5. Prepare your home

Losing your home to bushfire is a devastating reality for many Australians. However, with a few key additions and regular maintenance you can help mitigate damage to your property and protect your family. DFES has provided a property preparation checklist which can be downloaded here.

Property preparation

  • Install mains powered smoke alarms
  • Keep gas cylinders away from the likely direction of fire (i.e. where bush is) and turn release valves outwards
  • Install metal gutter guards and attach a fire sprinkler system to gutters
  • Repair gaps in external walls and enclose the areas under the house
  • 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
  • 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.

Property maintenance

  • Clean your gutters of leaves and twigs
  • Clean chimneys and flues regularly from built-up ash and soot
  • Keep lawns short and gardens well maintained
  • Cut back trees and shrubs overhanging buildings
  • Clean up fallen leaves, twigs and debris around the property
  • Check gas release valves face away from the property.

Additional considerations should be made for rural properties, as well as for pets and livestock.

6. Stay informed

Staying vigilant and informed as the fire develops is vital. DFES recommends the following to ensure you know when to act.

By following these points and understanding the warnings, you’ll know when to go and will be ready when you do. DFES has provided a Leave Early Actions checklist to help prepare your home and give it the best chance of withstanding the fire.

This article has been developed as a generalised quick reference guide for preparing for bushfire. We encourage you to review the DFES site for more information specific to your circumstances.