Using Gutter Guards as Part of a Bushfire Protection Plan

  • Added:
    Feb 01, 2013
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Remains of the Market Cross - Henley-in-Arden
Remains of the Market Cross - Henley-in-Arden
Photo by ell brown

We welcome summer for the warm weather it brings and the opportunities to go to the beach or get into the family pool. With summer come the holidays and festivities of family gatherings but, as the mercury rises and the lush vegetation that was fed by the rain earlier in the year begins to dry out, we are also reminded of the persistent threat and the devastating effects of bush fire.

Some areas across Australia are more prone to bushfires than others and those who live in these areas must ensure they have a survival plan in place and take actions to protect their properties but the surprising randomness of fires over the past ten years has made some home owners reassess their vulnerability.

Bushfires spread in three ways: direct flame contact, radiant heat and ember attack. The main, and least predictable threat, comes from the latter. Floating embers can be carried by the wind for some distance and dropped into a pile of dried garden refuse or a neglected gutter of dry leaves fuelling them to flame. This can be the reason why fire seems to indiscriminately choose buildings at random so that one home will be burnt to the ground while those on either side are left untouched.

Building regulations have now been introduced to include bushfire protection measures in prone areas. These are to be applied to new buildings and renovations but most homes pre-date these regulations and are unlikely to achieve the new standard. However, there are some minor and effective building modifications that can be achieved to better prepare a home against the threat of bushfirescomplimented by a simple program of vegetation management.

Building enhancements may include some or all of the following, depending on the risk for the area.

• Fitting quality gutter guards or fire proof gutter mesh such as Emberlex
• Fitting metal wire mesh or solid screens or shutters
• Erecting non-combustible fencing
• Installing metal or tile roofing
• Covering roof vents with wire mesh
• Having the necessary fire fighting equipment ready

Even in a low risk area, given the unpredictable nature of fires, fuel for fires should be reduced by:

• Keeping the area around the home clearof all flammable material for a 20 metre radius. This includes leaf litter and dead and overhanging branches,
• Removing flammable material such as door mats, firewood and garden furniture from near the house,
• Mowing lawns regularly,
• Fitting a sprinkler system to use to inhibit the spread of fire.

Knowing the importance of reducing fuel around the home, the one building modification that should be made is to install fire proof gutter mesh. Most of the gutter guards that are available in Australia are imported and are made of inferior materials that fail to meet basic quality standards so it is important to find a quality product to ensure it will do the job. Emberlex is a superior product that is designed in Australia specifically for to resist Australian bushfires. This gutter protection system not only prevents the intrusion of leaves but also finer materials such as pine needles, gum nuts and seeds, and any embers that land there during a fire, will not burn.

For further information on protecting your home and preparing a bushfire survival plan go to the Country Fire Authority (CFA) website.

 

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For information on building standards and retrofitting, go to: http://www.buildingcommission.com.au/www/html/2421-bushfire-building-regulations-2011.asp , For information on Aqualex fire proof gutter protection systems go to: http://www.a12projects.com.au


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