Forest fires can be devastating for wildlife, homes, businesses, pets, and livestock. Every summer as the bushland dries out there is a real risk of an uncontrolled forest fire.
The local fire department can only do so much due to limited resources so it is up to you as a homeowner to limit your exposure to a forest bushfire in your area. In this post, we will go over the equipment and preventative maintenance you can do to protect your home and family.
We will even show you how to install some sprinkler heads onto your roof for automatic fire fighting suppression.
Bushfire Preparation Checklist
It goes without saying that if your yard looks like a tinder box with dry wood, lots of trees and scrub that it will most probably ignite very easy.
The following 10 steps will make your garden less prone to spontaneous combustion due to flying embers. Most of all these preventative measures will possibly save your house and your lives.
- Clean up any firewood and stack them away from your house.
- Cut down dead branches and remove them from around your property.
- Keep your grass and garden green by using pop up sprinklers and regular watering. It is quite simple to set you your own DIY pop up garden water system.
- Have a water tank connected to an electric and petrol water pump for fire fighting.
- Install external water taps to four corners of your property.
- Have a fire extinguisher mounted inside of your house.
- Clear trees from around property if living in the bush and clean out the house rain gutters.
- Have fire fighting equipment handy at all times. This includes hoses, connectors, ax, shovels, fire blanket, spare fuel for petrol fire pumps, generator, and fire extinguishers.
- Install water sprinklers to the top of your roof to spray water over the whole of your house in all directions.
- Have a fire evacuation plan ready and make sure everyone knows the rally points with a plan B in case things go wrong.
Bushfire Sprinkler System
A few years ago I ended up visiting a property that had fire sprinklers installed to the roof of their house. These sprinklers were permanently mounted and plumbed in with galvanized pipe and connected to a 10,000L water tank.
As they lived near a state forest they were very concerned with bush fires. These few simple steps made it sure they at least had a fighting chance to battle forest fires if they threatened their property.
Having an option to switch between mains water and tank water is a great option if the tank runs dry or if the mains water pressure drops out.
Nowadays it is simple to have the option to use either an electric or petrol water pump. For a complete backup solution, it is best to have both. It would just be a matter to change a few water valves over to select which pump you would want to use.
There are even a few smart water pump controllers around that can be controlled via Wifi so you can turn on your electric water pump via a smartphone. The Ranchio Smart Irrigation system is a very popular option. Just be aware that these may not work if the power goes out unless they are hooked into an uninterruptible power supply.
Don’t forget to protect your water tank from fire especially if it is a Polly or Nylon water tank. Galvanized steel water tanks are much better in a bush fire.
How to install fire sprinklers to your roof.
Start by working out if you want to use the flexible nylon water pipe or galvanized water pipe. The UV resistant polypropylene compression pipe fittings are easy to use and quick to install.
I like to use Philmac irrigation products as they are readily available here in Australia. But I’m sure there are comparable products in your part of the world.
For a more fireproof solution you would have to go with galvanized water pipe either 3/4 or 1 inch.
Choosing the correct sprinkler heads for your house roof.
The higher the water pressure the further the water can travel from the sprinkler heads. The old school brass impact sprinklers are a great solution.
- Brass, bronze, and stainless steel construction lasts longer than competitors’ zinc sprinklers
- Easy to install and adjust; full (360°) or part circle (20° to 340°) coverage with an infinite pattern adjustment
- Adjustable deflector flap adjusts spray distance from 20′ to 41′ radius
- High gallonage output; 1/2″ male pipe thread connection
Another option is to use fire deluge sprinkler heads. They won’t throw water out as far but if you have enough of them it is a great idea.
Get to know your neighbors well.
I have made an effort to know my neighbors on all sides of my property. Not only will you build relationships but you can look after each others property when you both are not around.
Know when they are on holiday and collect their mail. Water their garden if they don’t have an automatic watering system. It will make their property safer from unwanted guests and stay green during the fire season.
Many times my neighbors have come over to water my pot plants and check up on a strange noise. Don’t be the neighbor from hell. Your next-door neighbor may protect your house in a bushfire one day.
Water is your friend
Make sure you have water even if the grid goes down. This will mean water tanks with petrol water pumps. Your hoses should be able to reach every part of your property.
It is easy to install extra external water taps to the corners of your hose or property, You can do it your self and a plumber to make the final connection to save on costs.
Be aware that if you are using mains tap water to fight fires the more water taps you have to open the less pressure you will have at each hose. This is why having a combination of pumps and mains water is such a good idea.
Test your deluge fire system to make sure all of the sprinkler heads work and you are getting the correct pressure.
Wild bush fires are devastating to people and wildlife. Every year there are fires that threaten homes, stock and wildlife. The fires to me seem to be getting worse with some councils, greens, and state departments refusing or limiting back burning.
If our governments will not protect us we have to save ourselves. Don’t lose everything you have worked for but take preventative action now. Stay safe this bush fire season. Protect your house in a bushfire.