Summer in Australia is typically a high-risk time for bushfires, and this year is no exception. At the time of writing this, hundreds of bushfires are raging across three states, destroying nearly 1,000 homes in their wake.
With a long, hot summer ahead, it’s wise to ensure your property’s water tank is able to help protect your home if needed. Having a supply of water readily available can make the difference between saving or losing your home if it is threatened by a bushfire.
How much water should I save in case of bushfire?
In bushfire risk areas, it’s mandatory for homeowners to have a dedicated supply of water for fire-fighting purposes. The specific amount of water that needs to be allocated for fire-fighting varies depending on your location, the size of your property, and your bushfire risk.
Water supplies serve three main functions during a bushfire:
- To help householders control spot fires and hot spots around their property.
- To protect the house from radiant heat and sparks via a sprinkler system.
- To supply firefighters involved in fighting the principal fire.
Requirements can range from a minimum of 2,500 litres for small properties, to at least 20,000 for rural properties larger than a hectare in size. In high bushfire-risk areas, a minimum of 22,000 litres allocated for fire-fighting is recommended.
So make sure you check with your state’s firefighting authority for details of your requirements.
Preparing your property for bushfires
There are a number of measures to take to ensure your home has the best chance of surviving a bushfire.
Check your tank’s plumbing and fittings
Exposed PVC pipes and fittings melt in the heat of a fire. So if your tank is above ground, make sure all of your metal valves and pipe fittings are made of metal rather than plastic to ensure they can withstand high temperatures.
Additionally, your draw-off outlet needs to be fitted with an appropriate hose connection so firefighters can easily attach their hoses to your tank. The exact type of fitting varies from state to state, so contact your local CFA to confirm what’s needed on your property.
Ensure your water pumps have an external power supply
If you rely on electric pumps to get your water from a bore, dam, swimming pool or overhead tank, you run the risk of having the power cut off during a bushfire. Electricity often is the first to go in bushfires as wires burn, so your pump needs to be able to operate separately from your electricity grid.
Particularly if you’re in a bush-fire prone area, it’s essential you have a supplementary water supply with its own diesel or petrol motor. Yout generator needs more than 1.5kVa capacity to drive a home pressure pump or firefighting pump.
Pumps and generators should be able to pump a minimum of 400 litres per minute, and must be built with shielding from the high temperatures that bushfires cause. Make sure that everybody likely to stay and try to defend your home knows how to operate the pump and generator. Performing practice runs periodically is an excellent idea.
Make sure your supply has clear access and protection
Your firefighting water supply needs to be located where it’s easy for firefighters to get to in a hurry. If your tank is located on the fire-prone side of your house, make sure you’ve used fire-shielding measures to protect firefighters and your pumps from extreme heat.
If firefighters can’t access your water supply safely, the water cannot be used to save your home.
Maintain vegetation around your home
One of the most important things you can do to protect your water tank – and your home – is to keep its surrounding area clear of vegetation. Maintaining a zone around your home clear of flammable plant debris and other materials includes:
- Pruning tree limbs that overhang your house
- Clearing vegetation and dead leaves under trees and shrubs
- Keeping a vertical 2-metre fire break from the ground to tree canopies
- Retain moisture in your garden by watering regularly in Summer
Want to make sure your home is fire-season ready? Get in touch with us at ASC Tanks to discuss your water needs.
We’ve been supplying Australia with a wide variety of rain harvesting solutions since 2007, and can help you choose the right tank materials and set up to help ensure your water supply is equipped and ready if needed in a bushfire.
Give us a call on 1300 229 606 today.