Protecting Property During Bushfire Season
In various parts of the South Pacific and particularly Australia, it is important to plan ahead to reduce the likelihood and consequences of bushfire damaging church owned properties.
Our Senior Risk Officer, Andrew Mowbray, suggests there are some simple things our leaders and local members can do before the weather heats up in preparation for the bushfire season:
- Look carefully at how much combustible material has accumulated on and around church-owned buildings.
- Move any combustible materials like woodpiles, boxes, crates, etc away from the facility and limit the amount of petrol and other flammable substances stored.
- If possible, keep dense shrubs and trees away from the building – particularly windows. These can increase the risk of the fire spreading into the facility.
- Keep gutters clear of leaf litter / plant material.
- Keep lawns around buildings short, well-watered and free of leaf and plant litter.
- Appoint a person to walk around the property making a ‘To Do’ list and empower them to take appropriate action, such as hiring a tradesperson or organising a working bee.
Other preventative measures where applicable could include but are not limited to:
- Ensuring any external cladding of the buildings is maintained and that all gaps are sealed.
- External doors are of solid timber construction with metal flyscreen and weather strip to eliminate any gaps.
- Metal gutter guards installed on roofs to prevent the build-up of leaf and plant material.
- Fencing constructed of non-combustible material such as metal colour bond or brick.
- Ensuring motor fuel / oil and chemicals are properly stored with no surrounding residue.
- Metal flywire screens or shutters are installed on external windows.
- Cover all external vents with metal fly wire.
- Install non-combustible firescreens to cover external skylights.
- If applicable, protect underfloor spaces with non-combustible sheeting that will prevent embers from landing under the building and starting spot fires.
Andrew states, “Faithful stewardship of Church property will help reduce the risks of incidents and hopefully prevent major disaster.”
The CFA (Country Fire Authority) has a very short, informative video which may be helpful to those in high fire risk areas. You can view that one minute video here. But please remember in the event of an emergency to follow the instructions of emergency personnel and if you see a fire or need emergency services call Triple ‘0’ in Australia. We would rather lose property than people, so always keep yourself and those around you safe.
Andrew is happy to take your calls to chat about fire safety and risk control for church-owned property. You can reach him on (02) 9847 3376.