Preparing for Bush Fires: Heading into Dry Season

I had intended to “potter in the garden”, but in the end I spent most of my Sunday tidying up the garage. It’s amazing how quickly it can fill up with junk; how people ever managed to fit cars into them, I’ll never know.

Back in England, I would’ve shoved all this sort of stuff in the loft, but loft space just isn’t the same in a single-storey house. That’s a shame, because you just can’t beat loft storage. Once something is in the loft, you may as well no longer own it, yet, deep down, you know that you still do.

It’s the perfect place for things you’re not sure whether you want to keep or throw. Can’t decide? Shove it in the loft.

It’s not the same in the garage. Every time you go in there to, say, get something out of the toolbox, you come face-to-face with all your old unwanted rubbish. So, periodically, you need to clear it out.

So, that’s how I spent my Sunday.

Had I gone out, almost anywhere, or if I had even taken a minute or two to gaze skyward towards the city, I may well have seen plumes of smoke. Because 15 kilometres or so away, in a place called The Gap and the neighbouring suburbs of Michelton, Keperra, Ashgrove and Enoggera, those who had decided the potter in their own back gardens would have been getting rather warm.

Some would have been getting too hot for comfort.

Fires in BrisbaneSource: Courier Mail

Controlled fires

Bush fires are often a threat here in Australia, and I’ve written about them before in a post called Fire Safety in Australia. Only 19 months ago Brisbane was flooded, this year though we are expecting it to be hot and dry.


Well, it’s all to do with El Nino and La Nina. La Nina brought us the floods and it is expected that this year, El Nino will bring us hot and dry. And with it, the danger of bush fires.

To prepare for that, the authorities carry out what are called controlled fires. Without fuel, there can be no fire. Bush fires use the bush; trees, bushes, grass and weeds which all grew during the lush wet la Nina period, as its fuel.

So by burning down the fuel in a controlled manner when it is close to residential dwellings can protect those residents from danger later on. Controlled fires are contained within a certain area by containment lines.

A containment line could be a piece of land cleared with a bulldozer until it contains no vegetation (fuel) or sometimes even an existing road or a river.

Sometimes though, the controlled fire becomes, well, out of control.

Here’s an interesting video I found about fighting fire with fire, and how that can sometimes go wrong. The video also talks a little about how fires are good for the bush, yes, seriously, it’s true. Check it out…

Being prepared

Fires can spread to houses through burning embers that travel in the air. So, around your home, you need to…

  • clear away rubbish and debris
  • keep grass areas well-maintained and watered
  • clear gutters of leaf litter and debris
  • store flammable items and stock-piles of timber, leaves or twigs well away from the home

Source: QFRS

Another good tip is to ensure you have outside taps with hoses already connected that can reach every corner of your house, just in case.

And here’s a cartoon with more help on being prepared…

It’s been the driest start to August for 18 years here in Brisbane and we’ve had no rain for a month. It’s likely to get hotter and drier. Now is the time to start preparing, later might just be too late.

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{ 2 comments… add one }
  • Patrick December 14, 2012, 5:54 pm |

    Hi Bob,

    I just want to let you know that the first video is out…


    • BobinOz December 14, 2012, 9:19 pm |

      Thanks for letting me know Patrick, I have now replaced it with a report from the morning news on TV which shows how close these fires came to residential properties.


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