Seal windows and doors
A well-sealed home is undoubtedly more effective in withstanding a fire. “Placing seals around doors and window frames greatly reduces the risk of embers entering the home,” says Building Commissioner Tony Arnel.
Build with non-combustible materials
External walls and internal frames should be constructed from non-combustible materials such as steel, fibre cement, brick and stone. These materials are easy to assemble and reasonably priced. A concrete slab underneath the house also offers further protection from fire damage.
Select a sensible roof design
Houses with simple roof designs offer fewer places for embers to lodge during a fire. There are five new roofing systems that meet the rigorous testing under the new standard:
TBA Firefly Roof System www.tbafirefly.com.au
Roofing Tile Association of Australia’s systems www.rooftile.com.au
Several systems based around roofing made of COLORBOND® steel www.bluescopesteel.com.au
Promat Australia Limited’s main roof solution using PROMATECT® 40 Mineral Bound Magnesia board www.promat-ap.com
Forest and Wood Products Australia Limited’s Roofing Solutions systems
Install and maintain non-combustible guttering
The Building Commission recommends installing non-combustible mesh gutter guards to avoid flammable decaying foliage from building up and trapping embers.
Treat timber with fire-retardant paint
Any timber structures (such as decking and pergolas) should be treated with a fire-retardant paint. The Building Commission also recommends building such structures at a distance from the home.
Look after your garden
High-water-bearing and fire-resistant plants help reduce the speed and intensity of a fire. Your local nursery can direct you to the most appropriate plants for your area. The Building Commission also recommends keeping your garden and lawn moist with mulch, ground cover and waste water. Fireresistant sprinkler systems can also be installed to ensure ground moisture.
Remove flammable foliage
It is also important to maintain your garden by removing any sick or dying trees and plants from your garden, as these can be highly flammable in a fire. Also ensure you remove surplus foliage debris under and around plants.
Keep everything clean, tidy and working!
As well as installing fire-resistant home fittings, it’s tremendously important to make sure they are always in optimal working condition. Building Commissioner Tony Arnel explains, “If a metal shutter is fitted, it needs to work at the time of bushfire threat. Routine maintenance is an important part of bushfire protection, for your home, outbuildings and garden.”
Designing a fire-resistant home
There are three major objectives to consider when designing a home in a fire-prone area:
1. Preventing embers from entering or attaching to the home.
2. Reducing the combustibility of the home.
3. Limiting the build-up of flammable materials and objects near the home.
By looking at the appropriate BAL of your area and applying the pertaining construction methods and materials, you and your builder will be able to adequately plan the new home to best achieve these three aims. The Building Commission’s guides are available at www. buildingcommission.com.au or by phoning the advise line on 1300 360 320.