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The Tuross Head Rural Fire Brigade clarifys Neighbourhood Safer Places and Evacuation


The Tuross Head Rural Fire Brigade wishes to clarify some points regarding Neighbourhood Safer Places (NSP's) and Evacuation.

The safest option during a bush fire is leaving early, however the national Prepare. Act. Survive framework provides guidance, triggers and options for people prior to and during a bush fire event, including sheltering in a well-prepared property. Late evacuation can be dangerous, exposing people to dangers such as fire, smoke, heat and congested roads. As such, though it may be desirable to evacuate people from areas affected by bush fire, it could be potentially safer to leave them in place.

It is important for community members to realise that fire can be unpredictable and conditions can change rapidly. They should not wait for a knock on the door telling them to leave. They should be prepared for fires and keep themselves informed when fire is in the area. If they and their property are not prepared adequately to stay and defend, if the fire danger rating is extreme or catastrophic, they should leave early- which is relocation not evacuation.

Neighbourhood Safer Places are a place of last resort during a bush fire emergency. Kyla Oval is not a specified assembly point in an emergency, it is a designated Neighbourhood Safer Place a place of last resort during a bush fire!

They are to be used when all other options in your Bush Fire Survival Plan can't be put into action safely.

You should be aware of any Neighbourhood Safer Places in your area, and note them in your Bush Fire Survival Plan before a bush fire occurs. You should also know how to get there, as well as alternate routes in case the road is blocked or too dangerous to drive on.

Not all areas will have a Neighbourhood Safer Place. If there is no Neighbourhood Safer Place in your area, you should identify other safer locations you can go to as a last resort. This might include a nearby home which is well prepared, a shopping centre or oval which is well away from the bush.

A Neighbourhood Safer Place is designed as a Place of Last Resort in bush fire emergencies only. Please note that travelling to or sheltering at a Neighbourhood Safer Place does not guarantee your safety.

Remember:

  • Your safest option will always be to leave early.

  • People with special needs, such as the elderly and people with a disability, should always leave before the threat of bush fire.

  • If it is unsafe to leave the area or stay and defend your property, and the path is clear, you should move to your pre-identified Neighbourhood Safer Place, or other safer location, prior to the impact of a bush fire.

  • Be aware that when you are travelling to your Neighbourhood Safer Place there may be heavy smoke and poor visibility.

  • It is important that you are familiar with the area. Gather at the Neighbourhood Safer Place location and remain there until the bush fire threat has passed.

  • The conditions at the Neighbourhood Safer Place may be uncomfortable and you may be affected by heat, smoke and embers.

  • Water, toilets and food may not be available at the Neighbourhood Safer Place and emergency service personnel may not be present.

  • Neighbourhood Safer Places are not intended for pets and livestock.

Evacuation

Evacuations is the planned removal of people from a place of actual or potential danger to place of safety. Evacuation is a risk management strategy that may be used to lessen the effects of an emergency on an affected community. It is a major policy issue, not a secondary reaction to other emergency activities. It is always a round trip process, which is not considered to be complete until the evacuees are returned to their communities again.

Evacuations can be categorised under one of two generic types

  • immediate evacuation resulting from a sudden hazard impact which forces immediate action allowing little or no warning and limited preparation time- ie landslide, gas leak, building collapse, structure fire

  • prewarned evacuation, resulting from an event that provides adequate warning and does not limit preparation time. It may be preplanned as a strategic operational plan ie Flooding, severe weather, major events, fires

The process described in the Bush Fire Coordinating Committee’s Policy No 1/2012 Community Safety and Coordinated Evacuations.

This policy reflects the laws as described in the Rural Fires Act 1997.

A key principle from the policy is:

“The decision to undertake planned evacuations during a bush fire is to be made by the Incident Controller in consultation with the NSWPF.

Irrespective of this, the NSWPF retains the authority to undertake emergency evacuations where there is an imminent or actual threat to life or property. Members of the NSWPF will liaise with the Incident Controller and/or Fireground Commanders prior to undertaking any evacuation (or inform at the earliest opportunity) to ensure a coordinated approach.”

The fire authorities and the police work on the principle that last minute evacuations should be avoided because of the dangers posed by thick smoke and moving fires. Institutions such as schools, nursing homes, childcare centres and other institutions should have Emergency Evacuation Plans in place to deal with all emergencies, not just fire. In bush fire prone areas they are also required to have a Bushfire Evacuation Plan, which can be seen as a sub-plan of their Emergency Evacuation Plan.

Those plans have been developed with the various emergency services and the Local Emergency Management Committee.

The RFS website is a wonderful resource for further information. http://www.rfs.nsw.gov.au/

Bush Fire Household Assessment Tool

NSW Rural Fire Service Bush Fire Household Assessment Tool. This tool is designed to help you make an informed decision when making your bush fire survival plan, such as whether you will leave early, or stay with your property and defend it.

No matter what your plan, it's important you prepare your home and property. This will give it a greater chance of withstanding a fire https://bfhat.rfs.nsw.gov.au/

AIDER

The AIDER (Assist Infirm, Disabled and Elderly Residents) program is a free, one-off service which supports some of our most at-risk community members. The AIDER program is designed for people who have limited domestic support available from family, relatives, friends or other services. This could include older people, people living with a disability, and people who are already receiving community assistance and services. Their property must also be on bush fire prone land (land that can support a bush fire or be subject to bush fire attack).

AIDER services can include: clearing gutters /thinning vegetation around the home /removing leaf and tree debris / trimming branches from close to the home/ mowing or slashing long grass.

If you would like to know more about the free, one-off AIDER service, call 02 8741 4955 or email aider@rfs.nsw.gov.au or you can also fill out the form on the RFS website http://www.rfs.nsw.gov.au/plan-and-prepare/aider

10/50 Vegetation Clearing

If you live in an area close to the bush, you need to prepare your home. The 10/50 Vegetation Clearing Scheme gives people living near the bush an additional way of being better prepared for bush fires. http://www.rfs.nsw.gov.au/plan-and-prepare/1050-vegetation-clearing

The scheme allows people in a designated area to:

Clear trees on their property within 10 metres of a home, without seeking approval; and

Clear underlying vegetation such as shrubs (but not trees) on their property within 50 metres of a home, without seeking approval.

You can find out if your property is in a 10/50 Vegetation Clearing Entitlement Area using Online Tool .

The 10/50 scheme is supported by the 10/50 Vegetation Clearing Code of Practice.pdf.

If the 10/50 Online Tool says you cannot use 10/50, you may also contact Eurobodalla Fire Control Centre on 4474 2855 if you are seeking advice regarding your land and bush fire hazard management.

Hazard Reduction Complaints and Works

If you are concerned about an area of bush that is adjoining or adjacent to your land you feel is a threat to your property, you can make a complaint to the RFS, this can be done on line http://www.rfs.nsw.gov.au/plan-and-prepare/know-your-risk/Bush-fire-hazards-and-your-property/reporting-a-bush-fire-hazard or by contacting the Eurobodalla Fire Control Centre on 4474 2855.

The RFS may be able to assist you with the environmental approval to carry out Hazard Reduction works, contact the Eurobodalla Fire Control Centre on 4474 2855 or http://www.rfs.nsw.gov.au/plan-and-prepare/know-your-risk/Bush-fire-hazards-and-your-property

Fire Resistant Plant Species / Information

Many residents during the property inspections have queried the most suitable types of plants and plant/garden placement.

The RFS website has landscaping advice at http://www.rfs.nsw.gov.au/plan-and-prepare/building-in-a-bush-fire-area/bush-fire-protection-measures/landscaping

Information relating to Asset Protection Zones can also be found at http://www.rfs.nsw.gov.au/plan-and-prepare/building-in-a-bush-fire-area/bush-fire-protection-measures/asset-protection-zones

The Victorian Country Fire Authority have some very useful information about landscaping and plant selections. http://www.cfa.vic.gov.au/plan-prepare/landscaping/

Some other useful website for sourcing information fire resistant plant species/ information:

Australian Native Plants Society http://asgap.org.au/fire.html

http://www.apsvic.org.au/plant_fire_resistant.html

http://www.ozbreed.com.au/download/research-papers/fire_retardant_plants.pdf

Neighbourhood Safer Places

Neighbourhood Safer Places (NSP) is a new concept that has evolved out of the tragic Victorian ‘Black Saturday’ bush fires in February 2009. A Neighbourhood Safer Place (NSP) is a place of last resort for people during a bush fire. It can be part of your contingency plan, for a time when your Bush Fire Survival Plan cannot be implemented or has failed. Information on NSP’s can be found at http://www.rfs.nsw.gov.au/plan-and-prepare/neighbourhood-safer-places

NSP’s are constantly being reviewed and updated, you should regularly check for any changes.

Bush Fire Risk Management Plans

A Bush Fire Risk Management Plan (BFRMP) is a comprehensive document that maps and describes the level of bush fire risk across an area. The BFRMP identifies assets within the community at risk from bush fire, assesses the level of risk to those assets and establishes treatment options to deal with the risk and who is responsible for carrying out those treatments. The BFRMP is used to determine such things as where mechanical clearing or hazard reduction burns are conducted, which areas require specialised fire protection, and which areas need to be targeted for community education.

The Eurobodalla BFRMP can be accessed: https://www.rfs.nsw.gov.au/__data/assets/pdf_file/0017/2366/Eurobodalla-BFRMP.pdf or contact the Eurobodalla Fire Control Centre on 4474 2855.

BFRMP’s are reviewed every 5 years and the Eurobodalla plan is currently under review.

Thanks for the interest in better preparing you and your property for fire, should you have any queries please do not hesitate to contact us. The Tuross Head Rural Fire Brigade are happy to help with further information and a presentation on Bushfire Preparedness for your association members.

#Tuross

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