Copy of Cover 2017 2018

Preparing Your Property

Asset Protection Zones

An asset protection zone (APZ) is an area surrounding a habitable building that is managed to reduce the bushfire hazard to an acceptable level, and generally consist of managed vegetation, reticulated lawns and gardens and other non-flammable features.

Houses should have an APZ of 20m (or to the boundary of the property where a 20m distance cannot be achieved). It is important to note that the 20m clearing may not be enough to provide adequate protection in all cases.

Fire travels more quickly uphill, so if your house is situated on a hill with vegetation growing on the slope below it, the APZ distance should increase at least 1 metre for every degree in slope on the side of the building facing the slope.

APZ Standards

  • Trees (> 5 metres in height): trunks at maturity should be a minimum distance of 6 metres from all buildings, branches should not touch or overhang the building, lower branches should be removed to a height of 2 metres above the ground or surface vegetation, canopy cover should be less than 15% at maturity be at least 5 metres apart so it does not form a continuous canopy.
  • Shrubs (0.5 metres to 5 metres in height) should not be located under trees or within 3 metres of buildings, should not be planted in clumps greater than 5m2 in area, clumps of shrubs should be separated from each other and any exposed window or door by at least 10 metres. Shrubs greater than 5 metres in height are to be treated as trees.
  • Ground covers (<0.5 metres in height) can be planted under trees but must be maintained to remove dead plant material and any parts within 2 metres of a structure, but 3 metres from windows or doors if greater than 100 millimetres in height.
  • Grass should be managed to maintain a height of 100 millimetres or less.
  • Fences within the APZ are constructed from non-combustible materials (e.g. iron, brick, limestone, metal post and wire). It is recommended that non-combustible perimeter fences are used.
  • Combustible Objects within 10 metres of a building must not be located close to windows and doors.
  • Fine fuel load is combustible dead vegetation matter less than 6 millimetres in thickness should be reduced to and maintained at an average of two tonnes per hectare.

For more information about APZs, visit the DFES Website

The Victorian Country Fire Authority (CFA) has published a handy guide - Landscaping for Bushfire.

Low Fuel Loads

Fuel loads refers to the amount of flammable material available for a fire to burn and is measured by the amount of available fuel per meter. Reducing fuel around your property may help protect your home from bush fire.

The intensity (heat) and rate of spread of bushfire is influenced by the amount of fuel (vegetation) available to burn. If the amount of fuel around your property is reduced, a bushfire will burn more slowly and generate less intense heat. This will reduce the impact of the bushfire on life and property and assist fire managers in suppressing the bushfire.

Fuel loads should be maintained at or below 8 tonnes per hectare. This is equal to 8 handfuls of flammable material per square metre.

Low fuel loads can be achieved by the following measures;

  • slashing vegetation on the whole block to a height not exceeding 50mm; or
  • conducting parkland clearing, which is the removal of vegetation to a maximum height of 50mm but leaving trees in place; or
  • carrying out hazard reduction burning.

Perimeter Fire Breaks

Perimeter fire breaks are required on properties larger than 4,000m2.

  • Fire breaks must be 3 metres wide with 4 metres vertical clearance.
  • The land must be ploughed, cultivated, scarified, chemically sprayed, slashed or otherwise cleared to a maximum vegetation height of 50mm.
  • Any overhanging branches, trees, shrubs must be cleared to a vertical height of 4m over the designated fire break.
  • A perimeter fire break should be constructed as close as possible to the property boundary and must be placed within 20 metres of the property boundary.

For more information about constructing and maintaining your fire breaks download the DFES Guide to Constructing and Maintaining Fire Breaks.

Power Outages During Bushfires

During the bushfire season, Western Power may modify the network settings to make them more sensitive, reducing  the likelihood of power lines starting a bushfire, but resulting in more frequent outages. Those outages may last longer if a total fire ban or vehicle movement ban is in place that will delay Western Power from carrying out work until it is deemed safe to do so. 

Community members can take steps to prepare for a power outage including maintaining an emergency electricity and water supply, learning how to open automatic garage doors or gates without power and keeping a torch and spare batteries handy.

Outages and restoration times can be monitored by visiting westernpower.com.au . For information about outages, or to report a fault call Western Power on 13 13 51