THE thought of a bushfire sweeping through their rural property terrifies Ashby residents Ross and Helen Pye.
As a former volunteer firefighter with 15 years service, Ross has plenty of first-hand experience in seeing the dramatic effects of bushfire, which is why he has taken extra precautions to ensure his home has the best chance of surviving one.
Two years ago the couple installed a roof-top sprinkler system on their home, using readily available polypipe.
Costing less than $200, in the event of an emergency the system is designed to flood the gutters simply by turning on a tap.
The sprinklers keep the gutters wet and dampen the ground around the home for added protection.
"What many people don't realise is that embers can travel several kilometres ahead of the fire," said Ross.
"And when hot embers land in gutters full of leaf litter, it's very easy for a fire to start. A roof-top system is a simple thing that affords enormous protection to the house and in my opinion, using polypipe is a very cheap way of doing it."
He said metal pipe was an alternative to polypipe, but as it required professional installation and cost thousands of dollars, he believed most households could not afford it.
"Unfortunately a metal pipe system is out of reach for most people and they simply won't do it."
While admitting there's a risk of the polypipe melting under extreme heat, he said as long as it was carrying water, it would need to be a very high temperature.
The couple have invested in a 5hp fire fighting pump with 50m of hose, which allows water to be pumped directly from a bore on site.
He advised getting a back-up generator for the pump in case power was cut.
"When buying a pump it's important to think about what happens if power is lost - if that happens with an electric pump and the home doesn't have a back-up generator, you're buggered," he said.
His bushfire plan includes keeping goggles and a face mask to protect eyes and lungs from smoke.
More information on preparing for bushfire attack is available from the NSW Rural Fire Service here or from your local RFS base.
Keep embers at bay:
- Install metal gutter guards
- Repair damaged or missing tiles on the roof
- Install fine metal mesh screens on windows and doors
- Fit seals around doors and windows to eliminate gaps
- Enclose the areas under the house
- Repair or cover gaps in external walls
- Attach a fire sprinkler system to gutters
Source: Bush Fire Safety fact sheet / NSW Rural Fire Service