Australia — CALLIGNEE resident Maureen Francis was paid a special visit by the Country Fire Authority yesterday as part of a new service to assess peoples homes for bushfire risk.
Ms Francis got advice from fire safety officer wildfire Rachel Allen about the area of land around her home known as defendable space.
Since the Black Saturday bushfires, Ms Francis and husband Arthur have cleaned up small, combustible material around their home, bought an additional water tank and installed shutters on their windows.
We felt there were a few homes (with shutters) that were actually saved where the fire had impacted on the home, Ms Francis said.
That had a big influence on us.
The Francis home was not impacted by the 2009 fires, but part of their property was damaged.
Ive learnt a lot and I think the community have learnt from us as well, Ms Francis said.
My husband and I do plan on staying (and defending the house during a fire).
Ms Allen said residents in areas of bushfire risk had responded well to the Home Bushfire Site Assessment Service which advises them about property maintenance and access, vegetation management, water supply and their capacity to defend.
A lot of people have already done a lot of preparation work and theyre finding theyre just looking for that recognition they have done the right thing, she said.
Defendable space basically involves an area of managed vegetation that reduces the intensity of a fire as it approaches the house, so reducing all the fine fuels around the house, mowing the grass, maintaining the garden beds so theres not a big build-up of vegetation that will burn.
The one-off 45 to 60 minute service is free and available to all residents, but priority will be given to property owners in high-risk areas.
To register for an assessment, phone the CFAs Gippsland Region office on 5149 1000 or go to the CFA website www.cfa.vic.gov.au and click on Fire ready then book an assessment.