The 2019 climate predictions are forecasting a very hot El Nino summer, with drought conditions expected throughout many parts of Australia. This means unpredictable shifts in wind velocity will create above-normal incidents of fires in wooded areas, grassland, even the brush that is on your business property. With bushfire season upon us, businesses in Australia should already be preparing to protect their property from a bushfire.
If you find your business is unexpectedly in the path of a bushfire, having a safer location that has a lower level of fuel to accelerate a fire, such as a network of roads that is far away from forestry or continuous bush can help you stay safe. Here we discuss a quick guide to prepare your small business for a bushfire and keep you and your employees safe.
Preparing Your Small Business for a Bushfire
Pre-Plan to Minimise Risk
Even small businesses should have a bushfire risk management plan to determine which property assets are at greater risk of destruction during a bushfire. One should make sure to be critical to the building's infrastructure or the continuance of business. Considering the consequences of a possible bushfire will be key in determining locations where you want to reduce the chance of fuelling a fire.
Research your area's fire history, the response time of firefighters, and consider your number of employees and which escape routes they will take. It is also a good idea to have an IT disaster recovery plan that includes back-up copies of sensitive business information stored on computers. This is also a good time to budget for small earth moving machinery with multiple attachments that can be used to create a firebreak around your business property.
Identify Physical Environment Risks
To limit your grass fire and bushfire risks, you should inspect the environment surrounding your property and start reducing the risk of fire before temperatures get hotter. All scrub, grass, and weed should be cut to less than 10 cm high. Further prepare for seasonal fires by taking the following steps:
- Stock some personal protection items such as respirators, goggles, and gloves
- Clear leaves from gutters, on roofs, and around trees
- Make sure you have water hoses long enough to reach critical areas
- Make sure property fire hydrants are not obstructed
- Consider mulch or pebble for ground cover to keep soil moist
During bushfire season, look at how your combustible materials are stored and remove any rubbish or woodpiles away from the structure. You should also know your area's fire danger rating so that when warnings are issued you will be aware of when conditions are extreme.
Construct a Fire-Break
If you are near an area that contains bush or forestry, then constructing a firebreak is a good idea to prepare ahead of time. A fire-break places a strip of cleared land between your property and all grass, shrubs, trees, and other combustible materials. You essentially create an area that is 'fuel-free' and will stop or slow-down a fire.
To remove dead wood and undergrowth from your property, you may consider hiring out a skid steer or compact excavator with attachments such as a stick rake attachment to make short work of clearing land, debris, and other vegetation. Also, a ground ripper attachment can be used to tear through hard earth when creating a bank of vegetation-free soil.
Plan for Employee Safety
You should also plan for your employees' safety with yearly informational lectures on what to do - and what not to do in the case of an approaching bushfire. It is important that employees know how flames are driven forward by the wind and how small pieces of burning material will relocate and start new fires. Information on how to handle the heat stress, what routes should be taken to exit the building and the property, and any provision for shelter that is on the property.
When your small business is ready to remove vegetation from nearby structures or when constructing a fire-break to protect your facility, contact Himac Attachments to discover a wide range of tools that can make clearing your landscape fast and easy.