IDEAS Folks, What have you got ( FIRES )

OK, so we know we need to improve what we do, so I have placed some starters here for ideas, but we need more and we need debate on them as well, so I want them all. Nothing is off limits. here are some starters 


1                    Country areas to be classified based on the following categories.

1.1  Remoteness

1.2  Access restrictions such as dirt road, hills over a certain grade and distance from a main sealed road

1.3  Density of timber and types of scrub


What I am saying here is that a system for determining the general level of risk. Maybe grading them from 1 to 5.



2                    What type of Building materials may NOT be used in certain areas, again, we base this on the grading level. This would be for external cladding and roof cladding, doors on the buildings outer and so forth. Maybe in high rick areas we have SOLID CORE doors and not hollow units. Maybe in HIGH risk areas, roller shutters are required, maybe we have sprinkler systems and back up power via generators


3                    What type of training should people undergo and with what frequency


4                    should bunkers be part of the equation.


5                    Dependant on the classification level, do we allow in a level 5 area ( 5 is HIGH or Extreme), the clearing of trees to a distance no greater than 70 meters from the main dwelling.


6                    Do we add to this shielding of water tanks or they be buried.


7                    Should communities have a designated rally point in high risk areas and what base building and equipment should be available.


8                    Do we look at a hard wired RF Receiver and speaker that activated by the CFA, this would be placed in HIGH and EXTREME risk areas.


9                    I thought we had the capacity to blanket call via Telstra emergency warnings. Is this so, and was it used. Could messages and calls go to all phones operating from a certain cell or cells.


10                If you are forced to evacuate your property WHO is responsible for damage and looting whilst you are not there. Does insurance cover this?.


29 thoughts on “IDEAS Folks, What have you got ( FIRES )

  1. Good stuff

    1, yes a simple grading but you’ll probably need at least 2 sub grades so say a low risk property close to a metaled road and on a vallet floor would be a 1Ai

    2, Got to be careful here but i agree with minimum standards such as solid core doors, Steel joists, concrete pads etc. Pumps and sprinklers linked if poss to solar.

    3,basic fire training for those chosing to livel in grade 4 or 5 regional areas

    4,Absolutely as a minimum building requirement and they have to be licensed say inspected on a 5 yearly cycle

    5, I think 70m is to little if you’re in a heavy wooded area, i think you want to be looking at a minimum of 100m

    6, buried with minimal PVC piping unless in lower grade regions ( levels 2 to 3 )in which case the tanks should be at least shielded

    7, in reality only communities could take the load of having a rally point. It’s minimum size should be based on the shire roll and there be a requirement for constant updates. should be able to store water and rations plus emergancy equipment for a minimum of 4 days. if at all possible it should be a frequently used building eg hospital, CFA centre, police station etc (pros and cons for all)

    8, interesting idea but is primarily the sort of thing you’d get in communities not suburbs. Also it’s my undertsnading that the RF transmitters that can overide normal radio reception is very much a short range unit hence their use in road tunnels.

    9,Back in the old days this was proably true however i think we have to look at a federal repsonse syustem linked to wireless and GPS networks.

    10, Security has always been a problem out in the bush, but I’d say that if you’re forced out fed gov has to puick up part of the risk for insurance purposes.

    In conclusion I think we’ve got to start realising that living outback is no longer a cheap option. Improving building codes to what we’re talking about is going to be a big poltical hot potato. the costs are going to be prohibative unless there are tax breaks and we could be heading abck to an almost mother country sort of situation where in relaity it’s only the landed gentry who ‘lived’ in the country, everyone else will have to live in towns and villages and the cost of living there is going to shoot up.

    Well there’s you stimulus package gone on making it possible for people to live in the bush…..

  2. Jesus – it sounds as if you two have got most of it covered. I think bunkers are a pretty good option – some people seemed to have survived using improvised ones – and they are pretty cheap

  3. Lerm, just as long as I can set up a consultancy practice for this sort of work and charge the Guv large amounts of wonga for it!!!

  4. Don’t the CFA already come out onsite, assess your fire plan and give you a grading? I think most communities also have standard rallying points.

    I think the keys are building regs including bunkers, comms both for the authourities and to the general public and finally council clearing by-laws.

    I pity the poor council fool that over the next couple of months, tells people in melb’s green wedge that they can’t clear trees close to their house.

  5. Metal clad buildings aren’t the way to go. One fellow had a full metal clad water tank and it melted ie it had water in it. Horror stories in the past tell of people being boiled alive in water tanks. Hmm . . . Black Friday? Concrete or earth bermed is the remaining alternative.

    Biggest problem seems to be water pressure for either misting an entire house or for fire fighting- that implies reliable power supply or affordable fir fighting gear.

    A lot of people died in the open. Wonder what slit trenches could have done for them?

  6. Nicely covered. Just another thing for rally points – open spaces like football grounds were used. As an option it depends on how far back the scrub is. Could be an easy option to have them as rally points and build in some shelter incorporated into a stand, just make sure the surrounding area is cleared for at least 100 metres. As Lerm said, make shift ones worked. One guy even used a gutter and a blanket and survived. Doesn’t take too much.

  7. brian, yes stell cladding is out but not i’d say steel frames.

    Water tanks are better earth/rammed earth earth bermed than concrete mainly due to the thermal dynamics of the material.

    Water pressure is an issue that i was planning to mention (but forgot). There is a calc that says for every storey of drop form a water tank there is an correspondaing pressure rise (I think it’s 1:1 but i could be easily wrong and don’t have my guides here at work.) Therefore you’d either want your tank on top of your house (not terribly attractive), On a tower (not very pratical in firestorms) or finaly have the tank/dam uphill of your property (maybe best option). then you have your storage capacity issue…

    As for power source gravity is always best IMHO

  8. Its a big one. BUT, typically you have two outlets on the tanks and down here its a requirment to have a fire outlet. This is what you put your HVOLUME pump on, secondly, the pressure pump which most farms have, gets unplugged from the mains and feed by the Gen set. Both units need a temp sheilding from fire.

    Unless, like Chaz says, the dam is UP hill.

    As for Cladding. well Brick is best and Iron for the roof. I do not even want to think about the small gaps associated with roof tiles and then toss in flying embers.

    Brian, a slit trench in the open would be better than no cover or protection from the radiant heat. debri falling on you would be an issue, but some cover is always better than none.

  9. Ref water tanks, its been a non no ever since I was told as a youngster, Never, ever get into a water tank in a fire, unless you wish to boil to death. Now, the blokes who survived climbed into a concrete one i believe, which also would not have been OFF the ground. that’s where trouble starts with off the ground tanks, a perfect kettle if sufficient material is about.

  10. Black Friday in 1930s was full of stories boiled to death in water tanks. Most water tanks these days are plastic though aren’t they? I heard a number of stories where people said their power died so their pumps didn’t work and hence they had no choice but to run away.

    Heard one interview – the guys skin was melting off because of the ambient heat – never actually directly touched by flames… that heat carried a long way too.

    I think the main issue isn’t actually remoteness – theseplaces are more like suburbs then country towns aren’t they in many cases? Suburban sprawl means more people at risk in more places – stretch fire fighting resources too much.

    What about the ‘fight or flee’ discussion – sounds like more and more people think forced evac is the way to go?

  11. THose are good. I’ll support the bunkers. And concrete water tanks or inground tanks.

    I’m going to go a step or two farther and say that with regards to clearing, etc, we actually need to declare some of our smaller townships non-viable. Just reel ’em in. There are a lot of little towns in outback Qld, Victoria, NSW in which the populations are aging and the places are in decline, unlikely to recover. We should accept the inevitable there, and cut our losses.

    Desalination plants — yeah they cost a fortune. But aren’t we trying to stimulate an economic recovery? Here’s an idea for you: find a decent deposit of silica sand somewhere around the nexus of Qld, NSW and Vic. Use it to make high-grade silicon wafers on-site. Use the silicon to provide photovoltaic power to produce more silicon until you’ve got much more power than you need.

    Next, pump the combined sewage of Melbourne, Sydney and Brisbane to that point, and use raw solar energy to completely sterilise it. Utilize that same raw solar heat to recover metals, etc from sewage solids, and to produce useful soil additives — nitrates, phosphates, etc.

    Meanwhile, all that sewage water neatly distilled off is now available to be sent to the really dry danger spots. That’s the combined outflow water of the three largest cities in the country, there… And on top of that, you’ve just set up a high-tech city with several vital primary industries all its own, plus taken world leadership in photovoltaics. Plus, of course, the transport infrastructure will make your future fire evacs and water transport a shitload easier.

    Cost a fortune, sure. What were we doing with Kruddie’s 42 billion again?

  12. I totally agree with all the precautions that can be thought up. Personally, I think would be more inclined to simply leave as soon as a serious threat to life is on the cards. To hell with staying and sitting it out, or fighting to save a building. A well thought out evacuation plan for all at risk couldn’t hurt. If only for the ill, the old, and the children. But really, getting everyone the hell out of the way is another good idea.

  13. Dirk, you know that i’m a full supporter of water recycling. The idea of accepting the invetable with regards to some towns and villages whilst practical, is a political cobalt bomb.

    whilst i think that evacuation is the main way to go what about the livestock ect that would be left behind. Do we do the decent thing or again force stations and farms to have emergancy storage areas for those creatures to shelter in?

  14. ok, photovoltaic power I have NFI on, but shall find out.

    Chaz, i will bet my arse, especially given the Chief of the CFA just said NO WAY, that they believe and the evidence supports it, staying at your home IS THE SAFEST. Bet the gummit would not like that and I think its arse about anyways. Give them the choice.

    Flint, I have some research to do, but that would mesh also with my belief that we should be piping water to the arid places and generating industry. too much land wasted here for my liking.

    And yes, I think our 42 billion is going to be wasted on a biblical scale as well.

  15. GBOB. My boss on site is in the CFA and part of the senior staff, We had a discussion today about how dense packed houses are now and how this was part of the CBR issue we Canberra went up. High Density housing estates backing onto scrub land is a town planning disaster and an event just waiting to happen.

    Whats also concerning is the CFA here are VERY concerned about the ranges 1 kilometer from us as the crow flies. Their has not been a burn / fire in them in these parts for nearly 10 years. Tinder dry and fuel load is through the roof.

    You are talking from the Marsh to Gisborne, to daylesford, blackwood and so on, with small hamlets dotted throughout. They are worried.

  16. Not wanting to state the bloody obvious but his seems to be a problem that’s particularly severe in these regions of rural Vic. We haven’t seen the same horrific casualties with the same regularity – every 20-30 years, about what you’d expect for two bushfire cycles (most bush seems to go up every 10-15 yrs unless it’s control-burned) – in other bushfire epicentres like the Blue Mountains or the Hunter.

    What about escape routes? I don’t know the area but seems to be lots of narrow, winding, tree lined roads. A case for cutting trees well back along side roads to aid access as well as creating natural firebreaks? And not letting people move into areas which only have one road in and out, or running alternative routes into small ‘bush-locked’ villages that have become built up as people have moved there?

    That’s something I wonder about actually, maybe you Vics can enlighten me. What’s the demography of the area? Has there been a lot of migration of retirees or seachangers from the city into these areas? Those of us who grew up in the bush are taught from day one to be fire-aware – how to protect your property, what to do if you get caught in a blaze – but maybe greater education and awareness might have made some sort of difference. I’d hate to think naivete or ignorance played a factor here – but looking at some of the pics of people looking over their burnt properties in thongs and boardies, I do wonder.

  17. This is all crap. There is NOTHING you can do against a true fire-storm! 47 deg temps and 60km winds will FUCK you every time. Forget the pumps and the sprinklers. You have to look at this the same way as a tornado (exactly the same way if you think about it. the fire-storm does more damage however) So EVERY place in a designated danger area (ie the WHOLE of fucking Victory bushland) MUST have a bunker. Last line of defence. End of story!

  18. Dr Yobbo – Kinglake is basically both a suburb in bushland and larger hobby farms. It is not laid out in much of a grid, it has lots of winding narrow roads with about 3 major entry/exit roads. It is built predominately on a hill but the whole area is a bunch of hills and gullys. It’s a great area to ride a bicycle or motorbike through because of the winding country roads and great scenery.

    It has a real mix of people, rich horsey types, those looking for cheap housing, the sea change set, artistic sorts, etc.

    I have seen on the news woefully unprepared people that say things like “We are planning to leave, but will stay as long as we can”. WTF????? Then there is someone like Brian Naylor that had built his own firebreaks and a trailer hitched up with a tank and pump on it and yet he still didn’t make it.

  19. Gotta say I agree with Mick, start with a bunker and build the rest of the legislation from there.

  20. yeah, its not just for Honest to god fire storms but. I hear what micks saying, you cannor really defend against that, but a BUNKER CAN, in high risk areas. Its the same grading as WIND ZONES for construction.

    But under normal conditions certain things should be done. as well, then Insurers should offer discounts or incentives, maybe even the gummit in a rebate or stamp duty reduction to off set the extra costs.

  21. Well, I’m not from there, but here goes:

    Everyone seems on board with bunkers. Not only good for fires, but good for tornadoes and cyclone winds as well.

    Desalination-more water available to use for irrigation and fire fighting.

    Heavy equipment-While we don’t mind leasing Skycranes to you, better off having your own (or equivalent) available.

    Clear zones around towns-in effect a belt of minimal vegetation which would serve as a bit of a firebreak.

    And a bit of what Mick says-recognizing that fire is an inherent risk of living in that part of the world and taking the common-sense precautions (keeping your property clear of brush, having a bug-out bag, keeping an ear to the radio when fires crop up).

    Hey-I see we’ve got grass fires going in Oklahoma right now! Nothing close to what’s happening there though.

  22. The whole hi-tech city is off the top of the head stuff. The underlying idea about finding a reason to improve lines of transport (and escape) out there, while increasing the water supply.

    The rest of it is — well, not bells and whistles. Multi-tasking, I guess. A world-class PV production system lets us produce more and more power that can happen on-site, and doesn’t involve burning coal. Reduction in carbon is good, and onsite or local PV power supplies mean that big fires don’t cut power to huge swathes of area. Pumps keep working.

    Reprocessing sewage is just sensible, and with the amount of sun available at that site, you could do it with a simple concentrator/reflector system. The fact that you can also reclaim a whole lot of valuable chemistry, including useful metals, is again just multi-tasking.

    But I’m sure there are other ways to achieve the two major goals of increased and enhanced transport/evac, plus mightily enhanced water supply. So in the context of this discussion, the clever silicon city is just one possibility of many, I expect.

  23. The herald sun today has an article by Geoff Wilkinson on page special edition page 12. Guess what. The telstra evac system was trialed and recommended. But gummits could not agree on who would foot the bill. Now the bill mind you was ONLY 10-12 Million.

    it gets better. As you all know or possibly suspect, our intrepid reporters will now pour over the results of the previous fires and recommendations and so forth.

    Guess what.

    i’ll tell you. More areas were to be burnt, fire breaks recommended and larger, but then it all gets nicely stifled by having to do Environmental impact assessments and so forth. FF SAKE, we have now put up with this shit for over ten years. If we had burnt off a bit more forest each year, we would still have had this, just perhaps not on the same biblical fucking scale.

    Why is it that fucking politicians cannot get their heads out of their arses and make god dam decisions, and , and spend money where its REALLY FUCKING NEEDED. Simple. They are politicians. Could not organise a fucking piss up in a brewery.

    Now I see we have our soon to be EX police commissioner heading this WHAT THE FUCK SHOULD we do task force to once again, assess the issues, make recommendations and NOT FUCKING DO ANYTHING.

    I think, that maybe, just maybe we should make ALL our current crop of Politicians go and FIGHT A FIRE. Lets then see how the fuckers perceive the whole exercise.

    OH, I forgot to tell ya, this house ya defending has trees all around it cos ya not allowed to cut the fuckers down, did I also tell ya the new rule recently brought out regarding trees above 1.5m, that BTW are dead and require a permit to be removed. WHY, well seems they may well be a haven for a furry friend or birds and so forth.

    Get ready folks, as the stupidity of gummit gets laid bare over the coming weeks, people are going to be calling, baying for their blood. It may not have saved all, its a major event. But bet your arse it will have saved some, and the pollies will be ducking for cover FLAT OUT and the finger pointing shall start.

    YEP, I have here pointed, I will also say that people have made bad decisions as well and I am sorry for their loss, but the pollies had the FACTS and ANSWERS placed before them.

    And lets face it, we know, that when reviewed after a serious fuck up, its always going show just how Dumb and twitchy the fuckwads are . More about preserving their jobs and the party retaining power and had outs to their mates , than doing a proper fucking job. Thank fuck I do not know a politician, lest I snap a head gasket and kick the fucker to death.

  24. Hav, I reckon the tree preservation mania is a big part of the fuel build up. Also look at the impact of “tree changers” and other city folk demanding those lovely rural tree-rich communities which are a comfortable drive away from the city. Perhaps the local councils need to go back to having those old school mayors who had RSL haircuts, a bloody big chainsaw and a stash of gelignite. I don’t know about hazard reduction burning in Vic but the blokes in the northern suburbs of Sydney have a hell of a time getting it through the heads of local councils that they need to do it. Sure, everyone likes teh Greens as a balancing act but they’re stubborn buggers when it comes to necking a few gum trees.

  25. Don’t forget the carbon emissions from burning off. Someone with dreads and a Bob Marley tie-dyed shirt will remind you if you don’t. I’d like to think this is The End of anyone listening to arsewits who see a pile of bone-dry tinder ready to accelerate the razing of a leafy suburb and think ‘oh but a birdy wirdy might want to live there’. I’m all for greenery and animal habitats and carbon awareness – but no fucking way if it kills.

    The bunker thing still seems to be hamstrung by the oxygen suck. Seems to be why the talking head ‘bushfire experts’ on the box are dissing the idea. Expense of O2 gen is going to mean it’s not in the game for realistic building regs (imagine expense having to certify it yearly etc. Hard enough getting people to maintain the batteries in their smoke alarms.). But I reckon you just vent it and put it under positive pressure like a cell culture facility in a research lab – anyone still with me here? – and it should be OK.

    Mick’s right, the once in a hundred year firestorm is still going to fuck everything up – but in that case, if everyone would just GTFO in plenty of time, it’s just property we’re talking about. Its the every 10-20 year bushfire cycle that most building regs should be targeted against.

  26. Yes, but do the environmentalists consider that some plant and animal species quite possibly may require a wildfire as part of their lifecycle?

    I’d guess some plants at least adapted to a dry environment and controlled burns may actually prove of some benefit to the land.

  27. YD, we have a lot of species of plant here that require bush fire to germinate their seed. the species are more prevalent in the low scrub mallee areas i think, But high country will most definitely have them as well.

  28. Bedak had an interesting take on the whole carbon/burn off thing some time back.

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