Author: James Fox AFSM

“Every year I hear the same messaging about the bushfire danger and every year it never happens to me. Sure, I know it happens but I will deal with it when it happens”.

As a Fire Officer for over 30 years, I have met the people who thought it would never happen to them – but it did happen and when it did, it was chaotic, frightening and disruptive to their employees and customers. Fire is merciless and does not discriminate.

Bushfires and grassfires are dependent on weather, topography and fuel loads. They can occur on any of our summer days but they thrive on hot dry windy days and they love to consume dry grass, bushes and loose vegetation. They also tend to attack businesses from “outside the fence” and become difficult to access and extinguish by fire fighters.

So, what should I really do?

Preparation can be divided into two categories. Property and People.

On your property

  • Manage long grass to less than 100mm in height.
  • Maintain shrubs, garden and trees by removing all the dry or dead foliage.
  • Keep access into and around the property clear.
  • Ensure clear access to any water points.
  • Practice good house keeping when storing materials and products outside particularly on your property perimeter.
  • If you have fixed fire protection features like hose reels or equipped hydrants, familiarise yourself with their operation. All fire start small and you might be able to knock down a small fire.

For your people

  • Stay informed by monitoring the Vic Emergency Website: emergency.vic.gov.au and the Vic Emergency App.
  • Regularly brief employees about the current fire danger particularly on days of high fire danger
  • Maintain regular communications about fire risk with employees that work offsite
  • Practise your response to a grass or bushfire as predetermined in your businesses Emergency Management Plan.
  • Plan for the welfare of your employees and families. Do you need all employees on site on high fire danger days?

 Further actions for your consideration

  • Liaise with your neighbours to understand their level of preparedness and work together where possible
  • Discuss your level of preparedness and the needs of the fire brigade with your local fire brigade members
  • Review your business continuity plan

If your business requires assistance for bushfire preparedness, contact the IEMR team at Nuffield Group via email nuffield@nuffieldgroup.com or call 1300 308 257