One in seven NSW homes a fire risk: survey

One in seven NSW homes a fire risk: survey

12 September 2011

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Australia — One in every seven homes in NSW is a potential fire risk, a survey has found just weeks before the start of bushfire season.

With fire bans already in force in some parts of the state, insurer GIO has released a study showing 380,000 homes in the state are a safety hazard.

This translates into one in every seven homes where households see a risk, out of 2.65 million across the state.

The bushfire season doesn’t officially begin until October 1 but fire bans are already in force in areas in the north of the state, including the Hunter and New England.

GIO spokesman Duncan Bone said now was the time to start doing maintenance jobs around the home.

“The heavy rain this winter will have led to some rampant growth in NSW gardens, bringing bush and other possibly flammable material closer to homes,” he said.

“As we start to head into fire season it’s important we trim overhanging branches, keep gardens clear of brush and stop fallen leaves and other debris from clogging gutters.”

The poll of 1340 people across Australia also found that two in five NSW households had failed to clear out gutters, while one in 10 had neglected to prune tree branches near their home.

NSW Rural Fire Service Commissioner Shane Fitzsimmons later said this year’s bushfire season would be characterised by the extraordinary rainfall the state had received over the past 18 months.

While the rain had helped break the drought, it had also brought the landscape to life, creating more grassland fuel than the state has seen in up to 40 years.

“We’ve got grassland fuel growth now of a parallel we haven’t seen for 30 or 40 years,” he told AAP.

“We’re expecting a fairly normal (fire) season along coastal areas but what we have got is this challenge with grassland country.

“We basically have continuous grassland fuels from the Queensland border to the Victorian border and out to our western boundaries.

“We’re talking a threat of grass fires the magnitude of which we haven’t seen for 20-30 years.”

It was important that landowners created firebreaks around their properties and took measures to protect machinery and fuel stores, he said.

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