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NSW Rural Fire Service
Bush Fire Household Assessment Tool

Personal Details

Welcome to the NSW RFS Bush Fire Household Assessment Tool. This tool is designed to help you make an informed decision regarding your plan to ‘Leave Early or Stay and Defend’ for this bush fire season.

Please enter your address and contact details. This information will be used to evaluate your bush fire risk and send you the details of this assessment. It will not be used by NSW Rural Fire Service for any other purpose.

Bush Fire Danger Assessment

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The results below have been calculated to assess the fire danger for your location based on mapped information. Are they correct? You can modify any answers that are incorrect to show the relationship between your house and the bush fire hazard that poses the greatest risk. Remember that your greatest risk may not be the vegetation closest to your house, it may be the slope behind your house.

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Household Construction

If you are unsure, continue the assessment using a low level of bush fire specific protection measures. Check with you local Council if you want to know if bush fire specific measures were required when your house was built.

Personal Capacity

The following questions will help determine whether you are capable of staying and defending your house.

Residents who attempt to defend their property must be aware of the physical and mental demands that the fire will place on them and how this may affect their decision-making processes. The environment in which you will defend your property can be dangerous, with heavy smoke resulting in low visibility, strong winds carrying flying debris, high temperatures and loud noise from the fire.

Available Equipment

The following questions will help determine if you have all the equipment required to safely stay and defend your house.

Grounds Condition

The following questions will help determine if your property is adequately prepared for you to be able to stay and defend your property.

Your garden landscaping can have a significant influence on whether your home will survive in a bush fire. Selecting appropriate elements can not only reduce the risk of a fire starting on your property, but can also improve your ability to safely attempt to defend your property from a bush fire.

This preparation is important to your house surviving whether you decide to stay and defend or leave early.

Stay or Leave Advice: LEAVE EARLY

Based on the information you have provided, the potential fire exposure is too high for you to be able to safely stay and defend your property. Your only option is to leave early.

For more information, please read the following links:

Leaving Early factsheet

Bush Fire and your Home

Stay or Leave Advice: LEAVE EARLY

Based on the information you have provided about your bush fire risk, your property and preparedness you are not adequately prepared to stay and defend your property. Your only option is to leave early.

It is still important to carry out all possible actions to prepare your property from the risk of a bush fire. This will increase the likelihood of your house and neighbouring houses surviving.

During the assessment you agreed to take additional actions to prepare your house for a bush fire. Please review and print the to do list.

Please read the following information to ensure you have considered what you need to prepare to leave early:

unsleek

(417) 425-2989

Stay or Leave Advice: Safe to Stay and Defend

Based on the information you have provided about your bush fire risk, you are prepared and have the tools to safely stay and defend your property.

During the assessment you agreed to take additional actions to prepare your house for a bush fire. Please review and print the to do list. If you do not undertake all of these actions you will need to reconsider you ability to stay and defend your property.

Please read the following information to ensure you have considered what is required to safely stay and defend your property:

Staying and Defending factsheet

(651) 480-1518

Help text to be written.
Your email address will be used to save your progress. You may revisit your assessment at any time using the link provided in the email.
Your home address will help us to identify the site conditions at your property
  1. Enter your location in the Home Address text box.
  2. Click "Show on Map".
  3. In the map viewer window, if required, pinpoint your exact house location by dragging and dropping the red symbol icon on the map.

Identify the vegetation around your property (that is able to support a bush fire) to at least 350 metres in all directions from your house. Managed gardens are not included.

Consider each compass direction (normally north, south, east and west) surrounding your home, to ensure you consider the vegetation that is likely to cause the greatest risk.

Vegetation Types

Forest
Forests

Open tree canopy dominated by eucalypt species (typically >10m in height) with crowns that touch or overlap. Canopy allows most sunlightto penetrate supporting growth of a prominent understorey layer varying between hard-leaved shrubs to luxuriant soft leaved shrubs, ferns and herbs.

Woodlands
Woodlands

Dominated by an open to sparse layer of eucalypts with the crowns rarely touching. Typically 15-35m high (may be shorter at sub-alpine altitudes). diverse ground cover of grasses and herbs. Shrubs are sparsely distributed. Usually found on flat to undulating ground.

Tall Heath
Tall Heath

Shrubby vegetation greater than 2 metres tall.Principal plant species include banksias, spider flowers, wattles, legumes, eucalypts, tea-trees, paper barks, she oaks, grass trees, cord rushes and sedges. Grasses are scarce. Not found in arid and semi arid locations.

Short Heath
Short Heath

Shrubby vegetation less than 2 metres in height. Often more open in canopy. Principal plant species include banksias, spider flowers, wattles,legumes, eucalypts, tea-trees, paper barks, sheoaks, grass trees, cord rushes and sedges. Grasses are scarce. Not found in arid and semiarid locations.

Short Heath
Rainforests

Closed and continuous complex tree canopy composed of relatively soft, horizontally-held leaves. Generally lacking in eucalypts. Understorey typically includes ferns and herbs. Vines often present in canopy or understorey. Occur mainly in areas that are reliably moist, mostly free of fire and have soils of moderate to high fertility. Typically coastal and escarpment locations.

Grasslands
Grasslands

Dominated by perennial grasses and the presence of broad-leaved herbs on flat topography. Lack of woody plants. Plants include grasses, daisies, legumes, geraniums, saltbushes and copperburrs.

Managed Land
Managed Land

Non-vegetated or reduced vegetation areas such as: actively grazed pastures, maintained urban yards, maintained lawns, crops, orchards, vineyards, commercial nurseries, playing fields, golf course fairways, cleared parks, non-vegetated areas, formed roads and footpaths including cleared verges, waterways, etc.

What is the type of slope between your house and the bush fire hazard? If the vegetation is downhill from your property, the bush fire hazard is downslope. If the vegetation is up the hill from your property, the bush fire hazard is upslope.

The slope of the land influences the speed that a fire will travel. Fire will travel faster and with greater intensity uphill because vegetation in front of the fire is pre-heated and will more readily ignite.

The slope you enter needs to represent the slope that will have the greatest influence on the bush fire behaviour. The effective slope needs to be considered over a distance of at least 140m from the building site towards the vegetation in each direction from your home.

For a simple method for estimating slope see page 14 of (905) 214-1732

Distance
 
Measure (in metres) the distance between your home and the vegetation that presents the greatest bush fire risk This is the distance to the vegetation that will carry a fire, it is not necessarily the nearest tree. You can use a tape measure, or you can step the distance. One large adult step equals approximately 1 metre.
If your home is in Bush Fire Prone Land and has been constructed since 2002 then special planning provisions for bush fire should have been applied. Houses constructed prior to 2002 are unlikely to have any bush fire specific measures. The terminology used for different construction levels has changed over the versions of the Australian Standard - Construction of buildings in bushfire-prone areas and Planning for Bush Fire protection.
Planning for bush fire protection 2002 and AS 3959-1999 Construction of buildings in bushfire-prone areas describe the following levels: level 0 (low), level 1 (medium), level 2 (high), level 3 (extreme) and Flame Zone.
AS 3959-2009 Construction of buildings in bushfire-prone areas uses the level of bush fire attack corresponding to the relevant radiant heat flux on the proposed building. The levels are described as BAL-LOW, BAL-12.5, BAL-19, BAL-29, BAL-40 and BAL-FZ.
Physical health is important as the conditions of the fire may exacerbate existing ailments, such as respiratory conditions that may make it difficult to defend your property for an extended period of time.
Residents need to be able to extinguish spot fires as the fire front passes. In bush fire conditions you will be required to move in and about your house looking for spot fires. If a spot fire develops you will need to take action to prevent its spread and development into a larger fire. This will require intense physical activity that may be required for a number of hours.
Good mobility is required to move around your property to extinguish any spot fires that start and to move to the place of last resort if necessary. It may be dark, windy and noisy making it even more difficult to move around.

Residents must be mentally capable of working in intense conditions. Stress and anxiety may impair the ability to make safe and rational decisions. You will need to anticipate how you and others might be thinking, feeling or behaving if you are threatened by bush fire.

During bush fires, many people experience some degree of anxiety and fear. It can get dark,visibility may be poor and it is frightening. Burning embers can cause spot fires on the property. The sound of a roaring fire approaching, firefighting operations and general confusion during bush fires can be very frightening and unnerving for some people.

A bush fire can be a terrifying situation. It will be dark, noisy and extremely physically and mentally demanding. Your ability to make informed decisions will continue to be critical throughout the experience.

There are many reasons why it is unsafe to defend a property on your own.

Injury - activities associated with defending your home are dangerous and you may be injured. If you are injured you may not be able to continue active defence, you may need medical attention or you may need assistance if you decide to leave to a safer place.

Workload - as the fire front passes the amount of spot fires may be significant and the workload may be too great for one person. As your attention is taken in one location, issues may be occurring on other locations on your property.

Assistance with decision making - having more than one person present will allow decision making to be shared.

It is preferable to have no dependents present while defending your home. Your attention will be split between defending property and ensuring the safety and well-being of the other occupants in the house. Dependents may also be at increased risk if there is a need to escape to a place of last resort. Older children, immobile, elderly and pets could shelter in the house if it is built and maintained to a suitable construction standard. However, infants should not be present without additional residents due to their requirement for constant supervision.
It is preferable to have no animal dependents present while attempting to defend a home. Your attention will be split between defending property and ensuring the safety and well-being of the dependents. Livestock may also require you to move away from your home potentially exposing you to a higher risk.

Preparing a Bush Fire Survival Plan prior to the fire season is vital as it guides the decision making processes on the day of a fire. The most important decision is whether you and your family will Leave Early or if you will Stay and Defend your well prepared home.

You can find a copy of the 218-777-5323 on the NSW RFS website.

The plan should identify actions and assign roles to all individuals in the household, whether they are staying to defend or leaving early. A survival plan should also account for multiple contingencies due to the highly variable nature of bush fire, such as fallen trees or power lines resulting in closure of potential escape routes, fires approaching the property from an unexpected direction, failure of equipment such as water pumps and hoses, and resident(s) not being at home when the fire starts.
Things don't always go according to your plan. Your Bush Fire Survival Plan should include scenarios such as:
  • What you will do if you have no time to leave and a fire threatens you,
  • what if local roads become unusable,
  • what happens if the children are home alone or if it is a weekday versus a weekend, or if you are unwell

A key component of any Bush Fire Survival Plan is an identified means of exiting the property and travelling to places of last resort safely. Neighbourhood Safer Places are buildings or open spaces that are away from bushland and can provide some protection from the immediate threat of a bush fire. Other examples of places of last resort may include a beach, sports oval, gravel or concrete car park, cleared paddock, or a well-prepared building - all of which should be away from vegetation. If you cannot identify a place of last resort, it is considered too risky to stay and attempt to defend your property regardless of the exposure.

Find a designated Neighbourhood Safer Place near you.

Having the appropriate knowledge, skills and experience about how to effectively prepare your property and suppress spot fires around and on your property is a huge advantage.

This experience may be as a fire fighter, previous fire experience in your area or participation in community events about bush fire risk and safety.

Due to the inherent dangers the fire environment presents, residents attempting to defend their property from bush fire must have adequate equipment and clothing to protect themselves from injuries.
  • Goggles are required to prevent smoke and fine particles from entering or irritating the eyes.
  • A helmet or wide-brimmed hat can stop embers from dropping onto your head or down the back of your shirt. and protect against radiant heat.
  • Dust masks or non-sythetic cloth to cover your nose will protect you from inhaling smoke, ash and embersprevent and minimise the risk of respiratory problems.
  • Clothing including long pants and a long-sleeved shirt made from low flammability materials such as thick cotton, wool or denim is needed to protect the skin from embers, radiant heat and flame exposure.
  • Gloves can protect the skin from burns and allow residents to move fallen debris away from the built structure.
  • Boots are required to protect the feet from embers, radiant heat, flames and falling debris.
  • A wet woollen blanket should be available to cover each resident as protection from radiant heat and flame contact if required.
To defend your property from bush fire you must have adequate equipment. These tools allow an alternative to using water and can be more effective in extinguishing small fires.
  • Rakes and spades can be used to put out embers and create breaks in fuels to contain the spread of small fires within the grounds.
  • A bucket of water and a mop is an effective means of extinguishing small fires that start from embers that fall within the grounds.
On days of increased fire danger keep yourself informed. Get into the habit of paying attention to your local radio and TV stations as actions in your Bush Fire Survival Plan may be triggered by a variety of sources, such as actual visual cues (smoke or flames), television, social media or radio. While television and social media rely on power sources, which may be lost during a bush fire, a battery operated radio will continue to work under most circumstances. For this reason, a battery operated radio is included as a necessity for all residents in fire risk areas
Garden hoses must be long enough that they would be able to assist with suppressing a fire near or in any part of your house.
It is important to have multiple points where water can be accessed, this will allow the least affected tap or tank to be used if one point becomes damaged or is engulfed by fire.
It is important to have spare hoses stored inside your house in case of damage caused as the fire front passes (e.g. melting).
A reliable mains water supply is rare. It occurs when the water supply can be guaranteed during the course of the fire even if there is a power failure. An example of where this may occur is when the town water supply is of a higher elevation than the town and gravity will ensure there is sufficient pressure for the taps and hoses. However, high demand during a fire may reduce water pressure below useful levels.
If you have access to static water (such as a tank, dam or bore) a pump is required to use this water in active fire fighting activities. Electric pumps are generally not considered suitable due to the high potential for power failures during a bush fire. The most suitable pump is a diesel pump, due to the lower flammability of the fuel, alternatively petrol pumps are considered adequate in areas of lower bush fire risk.
Controlling a fire on your property relies on having sufficient water, an appropriate system to store and transport the water and basic tools. A conservative estimate of a minimum of 10,000L of water is required to safely attempt to defend a house. The size of your house, the landscape around your property and the type of water delivery systems used will also influence this.
Gutters are a common source of ignition for houses. There are a number of things you can do to reduce the risk of a fire starting in your gutters. The first is to simply not have gutters on the roof, thereby eliminating the potential for the problem to occur. However, this needs to be balanced against the issue of storm water drainage in other seasons.
Properly installed gutter guards are a fine mesh which prevents the accumulation of litter in the gutters. It is recommended that metal wire gutter guards are installed in bush fire areas as in the event of a fire these will also reduce the risk of embers being able to ignite any leaf material that may be in the gutter.
When a fire is approaching residents should block down pipes (a sock full of sand/soil will help) and use hoses to fill the gutters with water. This will reduce the risk of embers being able to ignite any leaf material that may be in the gutter.
Ladders or other roof access is required to block down pipes and fill gutters (unless they are remotely controlled). An able-bodied resident must also be present to fill the gutters. To do these tasks it is recommended that you stay on the ladder and do not get on the roof. During a bush fire more injuries normally occur from people falling off roofs than from burns.
Sprinklers can reduce the likelihood of embers collecting or entering the roof and igniting the house. Sprinklers systems, including pipes and connections should be made entirely of metal, as any plastic connections may melt and cause the entire system to fail.
Dehydration is a serious concern and residents must have 10 litres of drinking water for every person who will stay and defend the property. Residents should not rely on mains water for drinking water as this can be lost during a bush fire.
A bush fire can easily move across a dry lawn towards your house. Removing dry lawns to bare earth or maintaining a green lawn within one metre of your house can reduce this risk.
Leaf or bark mulch will catch on fire easily from embers and should not be within two metres of the house. A thick layer of mulch can burn for a long time increasing the risk of the fire spreading to the house nearby. Bare earth, gravel or decorative stones may be a more suitable alternative.
Shrubs can ignite and should not be within two metres of the most vulnerable parts (eg any wooden or glass elements) of a house.
Combustible fences have the potential to transport fire quickly across a property and to transfer significant heat impact to your home potentially igniting it. A brushwood fence can create a six metre high flame from a standard two metre high fence. Fences near the house should be replaced with non-combustible material.
Combustible fences have the potential to transport fire quickly across a property and to transfer significant heat impact to your home, potentially igniting it. Fences near the house should be replaced with non-combustible material. A two metre high fence should be at least two metre away from the house.
Wooden sleepers used as garden edges or retaining walls can provide a source of ignition and burn for an extended period of time once alight. Combustible landscape features should not be within one metre of the house.
A combustible doormat can readily ignite from embers and then ignite adjacent timber doors, doorframes or decks. As with furniture, moving the doormat away from the house (or inside on days of high fire danger) will reduce your risk.
Objects immediately surrounding a house, such as vehicles, rubbish bins, and woodpiles can significantly influence the exposure of the house to bush fire. These items are usually dry and may be relatively ignitable by embers. Once they have ignited they may be difficult to extinguish.
Outdoor furniture is often made of combustible materials and represents a significant fire risk if it is within two metres of a structure or situated on a wooden deck. Embers can cause outdoor furniture to ignite and the heat or flames may ignite the house or deck. The risk from outdoor furniture is minimised if it is moved more than two metres from the house or decks.
Gas bottles can be explosive if they are damaged or fail for some other reason. They can therefore be unsafe for residents to be near while defending their property. Gas bottles that fall over and continue to be heated have the potential to explode. Gas bottles associated with barbecues should be removed from the barbecue and stored upright on stable ground in an open area well away from other heat sources with the pressure relief valve facing away from other structures and evacuation paths. Storage of these bottles in sheds or on or under decks is not advised if they are near the house.
Fixed gas bottles must be well-secured and have the release valve facing away from built structures so that if it vents (releases the gas) it does ignite the structure or surrounding items.
Flammable liquids, such as paint and petrol, are difficult to put out once alight. The safest manner is to store these liquids in a garden shed greater than six metres from the house.
An appropriately maintained property needs to minimise fine fuels (i.e. leaf litter and twigs). Dry fine fuels are a high risk as they will more readily ignite if exposed to embers during a bush fire. These fuels pose the greatest risk when they occur on or adjacent to flammable elements of the house. The removal of fine fuels from underfloor or underdeck spaces is required to prevent the burning litter starting a fire that can transfer to the house.
Houses and decks that do not have spaces underneath are likely to have fewer leaves and litter accumulate. Any litter is present is less likely to ignite as it is less likely that embers can get into these spaces.
A gap of two metres is recommended between tree branches and the ground, which includes clearing of shrubs. This gap is intended to prevent the transfer of flames into the tree canopy and any resulting crown fire which cannot safely be fought by residents. Some bark types can carry flames as well, so plants with smooth (non-ignitable) barks are recommended.
Maintaining the roof to prevent the accumulation of fine fuels and prevent embers from penetrating the roof structure is important. The roof needs to be free from gaps or holes to be in good condition.
A well maintained house must have a gap between the canopies of trees and the house. Trees close to the house pose the greatest risk when they are near flammable or vulnerable elements of the house such as windows.. Overhanging trees will also drop dry fine fuels (i.e. leaf litter and twigs) and this litter poses high risk as they will more readily ignite if exposed to embers during a bush fire.
A well maintained house needs to manage the accumulation of leaf litter and twigs in gutters and have a gaps between the tree canopies and the property). Dry fine fuels pose a high risk as they will more readily ignite if exposed to embers during a bush fire. The removal of fine fuels from roof valleys, gutters, underfloor or underdeck spaces is required to prevent house ignition.
Bush Fire Danger

Based on the information you have provided, the potential fire exposure is too high for you to be able to safely stay and defend your property. Your only option is to leave early.

For more information, please read the 920-451-1476.

Detailed Report

To Do List

Terms and Conditions

The NSW Government is committed to enhancing public safety by reducing the impact of bush fires. The Bush Fire Household Assessment Tool is provided by the NSW Rural Fire Service (NSW RFS) to help you to assess your household's level of risk from a bush fire and make informed decisions about the safety of your household.

NSW RFS provides the Bush Fire Household Assessment Tool as a source of information only and on the understanding that you exercise care and skill when you use it. The information provided about your household's level of risk from a bush fire is based on the best available spatial information, your validation of this data and the data you provide. It cannot take in account information that you do not enter.

NSW RFS does not accept any responsibility for how you apply, interpret or rely on the information provided by the Bush Fire Household Assessment Tool . You should obtain further advice if you are uncertain about how any of the information provided, including the assessment outcomes applies to you or if it does not fully reflect your situation. Everyone's bush fire survival plan will be different, depending upon your circumstances.

The Bush Fire Household Assessment Tool does not provide assessment for fires burning under Catastrophic fire weather conditions. Under those conditions, you are advised to leave early as this is the best and safest option.

The Bush Fire Household Assessment Tool is not intended to be, and should not be relied upon as, the ultimate and complete source of information on any particular topic. The information provided on the NSW RFS site, is provided on the basis that people who use the site take responsibility for assessing the relevance, completeness, currency and accuracy of its content.

NSW RFS cannot warrant and does not represent that the material which appears on the NSW RFS site or any linked sites is complete, current, reliable and/or free from error. The RFS does not accept any responsibility or liability (including, without limitation, liability for negligence) for any loss, damage, cost or expense you might incur whether directly or indirectly as a result of the use of or reliance upon the information which appears at this or any linked sites, for any reason or as a result of the information being inaccurate, incomplete or unsuitable for any purpose. Linked sites are provided for convenience only.

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