Fire Prevention - What can we do?

Discussion in 'Designing, building, making and powering your life' started by Mrs Parker-Bowles, Feb 11, 2009.

  1. Mrs Parker-Bowles

    Mrs Parker-Bowles Junior Member

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    Hi There,

    Given the catastrophic events that have been and are still unfolding around us here in Victoria I thought it might be appropriate put a call out for people who would be able to volunteer their time to consult those affected by this disaster when the time comes to rebuild.

    My hope is that such a group would be effective in helping people to prepare themselves their homes, property and stock to better cope with future fire events. This disaster is happening now but, this is the environment in which we live and it is of utmost importance that those of us with relevant knowledge and skills help to inform our community of any ways they can plan better for the future.

    I’m putting a call out for those with a particular interest or skill in the areas of:
    Fire prevention strategies,
    Fire sector planning,
    Design for stock protection,
    Housing design.

    There is also the issue of community refuge areas to be re-established when towns are rebuilt.

    I know that there are people in the Permaculture community that have excellent skills in these areas. I implore you to get involved in any way you can.
    If you would be interested in helping our community in this way please send me a private message.

    Regards, Jodi.
     
  2. Michaelangelica

    Michaelangelica Junior Member

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    Re: Fire Prevention - What can we do?

    Do what the Aboriginals did.
    Find one; and find out.
    No way an Aboriginal Nation would loose 200+ people in fires, and they were burning stuff all the time, for 40,000+ years

    My guess is that they waited for a cool, calm, cloudy day and set fire to the bush in a regular, timed, deliberate way, protecting gullies with fruit trees.
    The fire smoke might rise and form nuclei helping rain to fall, thus increasing rainfall.(and putting out the fire?)
    As we saw with the Victorian fires they started to produce their own destructive weather -- thunderstorms with lightening striking, making for more spot fires.

    With winters so short and dry now that burning/hazard reduction may be difficult- but 6" of litter can give you flames higher than trees.
    Perhaps the army can help? (Why are we in Afghanistan, helping the CIA heroin crop grow? We are no-where near NATO countries.)
    What we have seen was a fire-storm, a holocaust like that caused by incendiaries during WW2;
    although there, the air was literally sucked out of people too, not just buildings. Perhaps it was here too, we don't know yet :|

    How long has it been, since the area around the towns destroyed, had been deliberately burned to reduce hazardous build up of forest litter?
    One inch of litter will give you metre (3') or higher flames; and it goes up exponentially after that, like an earthquake scale.
    Remember 'Eucalyptus Oil = Petrol' for fires.

    When I had my farm I had a burn off of some area ever year, every winter.. Especially the mass of litter & dead trees the Council & Electricity vandals left by the side of the "road". My family thought I was nuts- a fire-bug. It was amazing how ferocious and persistent fires could become and even in winter, with lots of water and hoses, I often had scary moments.
    Fire Equipment
    I had a bore ( electric) huge tank 10,000l, and a petrol house/pump,(in case electricity went out) many small, and a few large fire extinguishers, fire blankets, sprinklers on my roof,radio, batteries, a serious, USA-made baton/torch, lots of rock-wool insulation. (Kids and women can handle small extinguishers more easily.) When relatives Maiden Arnts asked me what I wanted for my birthday I would say "No more aftershave please; (I've had a beard for years but come from Irish stock) a small "car" fire extinguisher is what I am really lusting after."
    Paranoid maybe. I would have preferred a building with no flammable bits at all.
    My insurers never gave me a break for any of this. This is something that perhaps could be looked at, or legislated, if the insurers won't come to the party.

    Once a fire got within 4K of me.
    It was eerie and scary. Amazing how dark it can get. I was on the roof, watering, and fireballs were spitting out of a nearby "mountain". One hit a neighbours' caravan 150M away and vaporised it.
    The kids still remember it as a scary time. The smell of smoke/bushfires still gets to them.
    Imagine what these poor Victorian buggers will go though for the rest of their lives.

    Many Victorian survivors talked about 'ember-storms'
    pouring, jetting though cracks around doors and windows! How scary would that be? Perhaps this can be looked at. Would those metal shutter things they eternally advertise help? I guess most fly screens just melted. You would think strong, security screen-doors would stop embers coming though door cracks?/?
    A relative of mine in Vic., 100k from the fires, had her new front door, with new hinges and locks professionally fitted, blown in by the wind! The wind was gusting in every which way . . .

    Perhaps the government can help
    by taking taxes off the list of things above or making them tax deductible.
    Governments love giving us our money back but they hate taking away taxes.
    (If they were serious about creating jobs, for example. they would remove payroll tax)
    The Australian Government is sending $4.5 billion in Aid OS this year. Including rogue regimes like Fiji and corrupt ones like NG.
    That does not include private donations- as the USA OS Aid figures do (Yanks also include the money their slave 'wetback" population send home as "OS Aid" to Mexico and SA) :( Don't let anyone tell you the Yanks give more OS aid than Australia , or anyone else, they are really down the list especially when you take out the c. 20% "aid" given to Israel)

    People will go though all the stages of grief now; like those set out by psychologist Kubler-Ross (On death and Dying). One of the best places to deal with this will be in building a garden. (See the psychology/garden therapy thread here).
    Many have given up crushed, frightened and are moving to a city apartment block
    At the moment many are starting to get angry. One of the stages Kubler-Ross talks about. :arrow: :D :) :( :eek: :shock: :? 8) :lol: :x :-x :p :oops: :cry: :twisted: :evil: :!: :wink: :idea: :axe: :rolleyes: :drinkers: :?: :?: :arrow: :twisted: :rolleyes: :ANAL: :drinkers:
    All these emoticons and more.
     
  3. bazman

    bazman Junior Member

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    Re: Fire Prevention - What can we do?

    I have finished part one of my fire firing system, I have a firefighting pump which is used each week to pump water for the orchard, It's always run and serviced. This water is pumped into holding tanks normally, I have added a t-section in the 25mm ag pipe, and have 3 garden hose attachments giving high pressure water if the power goes out. Part two which has now hit the top of my todo list is a 30m ag sprinkler mounted 2m off the top of my two story house.

    We do have a lot of large treed gardens on our western side and the dry lake grasses pose a nasty risk, I'm pretty sure I would have enough pressure to run all three hoses and the sprinkler, I have a 2ml dam with under ground pipes running up to the house, we also have 100k lts close to the house in 3 main concrete tanks, metal and plastic are generally worthless if heat melts them.

    In one of Bill Mollison's talks he said using a large ag sprinkler mounted to your roof would help your odds a lot.

    Down the bottom of this linked page is Bill Mollison's 1 hour talk on how to survive in one of these fires. Loved the concrete pipe/mini bunker in the ground idea. Spend the time and listen to this talk.
    https://www.permacultureplants.net/Audio/audio.htm

    My heart goes out to all those Victorian's effected by the fires.
     
  4. Ice Czar

    Ice Czar Junior Member

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    Re: Fire Prevention - What can we do?

    not to treat this with undo levity
    but not being from Australia, and yet familiar with some of the slang.....


    biomimicry comes to mind
    Mammals That Hibernate Or Burrow Less Likely To Go Extinct

    specifically where applicable rammed earth, earth sheltered and traditional masonry
    all offering the advantage of a fireproof large thermal mass capable of absorbing a large energy input but transferring it to the interior slowly.


    Id also point out the architectural benefits that a Catalan Arch or ferroconcrete shell construction provides
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Guastavino_tile
    https://www.guastavino.net/
    https://architecture.mit.edu/class/guast ... ramage.htm
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Concrete_shell
    https://www.motherearthnews.com/Modern-H ... -Home.aspx
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/F%C3%A9lix_Candela
    https://www.geocities.com/flyingconcrete/Other/links.htm


    as well as the potential to employ geopolymers as opposed to lime based CO2 intensive options
    (concrete accounting for a massive amout of CO2 emissions, which takes considerable time to chemically recover back into the concrete once backed out of the lime)

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Geopolymer

    ultimately however, its a land use and populace integration issue
    the fuel load available for a conflagration, in a firestorm oxygen starvation rather than heat exposure is just as deadly
    if we disrupt the natural fire cycles, we need to assume the biological role they fulfill

    my condolences to the victims and their families
     
  5. Noz

    Noz Junior Member

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    Re: Fire Prevention - What can we do?

    I think there are a number of things we need to address in this continent:
    1. Fire
    2. Water Sustainability
    3. to the north, cyclones and storms

    I think that earth berms, a sunken house with pipes running underground to draw in cool air, but with capacity to close these. The roof and berms could be designed to both catch water off the roof for storage in a tank for fire prevention & also to funnel air movement safely (embers).
     
  6. Hamishmac

    Hamishmac Junior Member

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    Re: Fire Prevention - What can we do?

    Jodi,

    I don't have any of the skills that you are looking for.

    However the tragedy is deeply troubling and shocking, and like many Aussies I am keen to help in any way I can.

    I did have thoughts on what the huge task which might lie ahead. In summary, the Royal Commission announced by Brumby will "leave no stone unturned". We should do all that we can to ensure that the Terms of References are wide enough, the Powers granted strong enough, and the questions asked relevant to address the magnitude of the problem.

    A sitting RC only forms a tiny part of the process of:
    healing (to which M-A refers in his post)
    examining and learning (RC is a part of this)
    planning and preparation
    rebuilding
    and many other stages too.

    The reality to most affected by this tragedy is that stages will overlap, happen at the same time, happen in reverse, or not happen at all.

    A politician clearly looking after the best interests of the electorate will set up a Royal Commission to find solutions to a problem. A politician looking to deflect criticism, or find support for a position he already holds will restrict the Terms of Reference (Cole Enquiry into AWB and Oil for Food).

    Let us not just hope that John Brumby has qualities of the former; let's ensure it.

    My thoughts are with those who have suffered loss, and those who still face danger.

    Hamish
     
  7. frosty

    frosty Junior Member

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    Re: Fire Prevention - What can we do?

    until the Vic fires we thought our precautions were adequate but now we have serious doubts

    we have a petol fire fighting pump on a 100000 litres of water connected to roof sprinklers. also an electric pump
    as a backup plus a generator. - its all clear arround the house for a minimum of 20m apart from a couple of big trees but they are clear underneath and trimmed of low branches. the area is covered in green kikuya and rhodes grass

    The house is steel frame clad with courbond. Hopefully nothing can burn except maybe fly screens which hubby would put out with firefighting pump. We also have a hose inside. I have 2 air purfyers to keep the house clear of smoke

    the sheds also have roof sprinklers - milking shed, hay shed and a big shed where we planned to put the goats. Now we wonder about the goats in the shed. the padeocks close to the shed are picked clean by the goats but do have trees for shade

    All sprinklers are metal with copper pipe from the ground. underground piping is poly and where valves occur they are ina little 'well" with a bucket of sand next to them to tip in in a fire This is one area we need to change and use galvanised fittings just having trouble finding them.

    some of our major problems inc a 20 acre pine and bluegum plantation over the road about 150m away that hasnt been cleared under the trees for years. Have rang the shire again about it AGAIN on Tuesday.

    Our block has a 50 m wide bush strip along the road - we need this to protect us from spray drift from road verge spraying ( tried unsuccessfully to stop them sprying in front of our block ) thinking of planing more trees along the front bit then making it narrower and letting the goats thin it. But that needs time and a fair bit of expenses it fencing it as it needs to be a high dog proof fence .

    The goat paddocks further from the sheds do also have scrub in them but it is more than 20m from all building and FESA site says a 20m circle of safety is adequate - but now we wonder

    frosty

    This morning I think we are going to do some heart breaking trimming of the trees arround the house area and in the goat paddocks :(
     
  8. missf

    missf Junior Member

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    Re: Fire Prevention - What can we do?

    my not very green dad said 'its because the greenies want to plant trees. '
    so are we supposed to take them all out? doesnt make sense to me. trees have been here for a long time and are crucial to our survival.
    3 months ago I burnt off 160 acres along with all the neighbours. we had a neighbourhood controlled burn off and even though i didnt like doing it, it was crucial as my place was a disaster waiting to happen . the ground was very thick and dry . like a tinderbox. now the grass is taller than me (3 months later) and very thick.
    so its probably not going to be as much of a fire hazard as it would have been. lets hope , however I plan on planting trees that are fire resistant. any ideas on the types that should be planted around the house?
     
  9. Cyna

    Cyna Junior Member

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    Re: Fire Prevention - What can we do?

    I don't believe the Koories ever 'managed' the landscape through burning. From what I have read, they burnt for two reasons: to make travel easier (through spinifex or scrub) and to make it easier to hunt animals (easier to see tracks and follow them to where the animal is hiding). There was no thought-out plan to burn off for fire protection. There was no need, if your house was a bark hut, it was easy to replace.

    I think the DSE will have to modify their opposition to cutting down trees. Their offset ideas have become too constrictive, having to plant a hundred trees for every one you want to cut down around the house site does not encourage good fire prevention.

    I'm planting evergreen and deciduous exotics around the house and keeping the gums way back, a cellar will be next on the list. There is enough information around for people to plan for fire mitigation, but sometimes nothing will help. On a day like that and living next to a gum forest, nothing could have made it safer. Maybe no gums within a two hundred metre radius would have helped.
     
  10. bazman

    bazman Junior Member

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    Re: Fire Prevention - What can we do?

    Mulberry trees don't burn that well I have been told.

    I went to a local CFA meeting, one of the older CFA guys said "everything outside of your home is combustible, including yourself." be inside with all your outside hoses (they melt), fill everything in the house with water, everything. when the fire front hits. go inside and shield yourself.

    Some ideas and items that should be part of your firefighting gear,

    Some full length overalls. No open skin "tongs are a bad idea." Leather and fireproof cotton stop a lot of personal fire damage.
    https://www.nationalfirefighter.com/index.php?cPath=6
    Sealed Goggles, so you can see in thick smoke.
    https://www.nationalfirefighter.com/inde ... 52_161_153
    A real woolen hat if you don't own a helmet.

    I'm sure you could find most gear at your local hardware store.

    Baz
     
  11. Cyna

    Cyna Junior Member

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    Re: Fire Prevention - What can we do?

    The big problem with giving advice is if it goes bad, they'll come gunning for you. Some survivors of the fires are saying there were so many sparks and embers coming into the house through small gaps, that they were unable to put them all out and had to leave the house in order to survive. I'm sure a lot of people did the recommended thing by staying in the house, but the weather was too ferocious.

    Some people who died didn't leave early, and so were caught by fallen trees or becoming disoriented in the smoke. For twenty years we have been told: leave early or prepare to defend your home. Many people didn't take that advice, why do you think they'll take any other advice?

    I expect there will be an over reaction now and the loggers will have the ear of the government. Implications for Barmah, the High Country and other National Parks? The graziers will be saying to let the cattle back in, that'll fix it!
     
  12. Jase

    Jase Junior Member

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    Re: Fire Prevention - What can we do?

    The aboriginals were mostly nomadic and moved according to seasons and availability of natural resources. So no permanent towns as such to be ravaged by fires or large structures to be lost to fire. Besides I'm sure some aboriginals would have sercome to a sudden unexpected bush fire throughout history but with no television news to report 200+ years ago - who'd know! Plus they didnt try and overpopulate the planet like us - so any natural disaster would have been on a much smaller scale as far as loss of life.

    Personally I think with the weather conditions that were around when the fires hit (ie multiple days of 40+ degree weather the week before, no real rain fall for months, 46+ degrees the day of the fires with very strong northerly winds), there was not much that could have been done to prevent the fire from being as fierce and devastating as it was. I think all we can do if we intend to live in areas where bush fire is a possibility is to build homes as resistant to bush fire as possible, however that may be accomplished - or cut down the bush so it cant happen! I don't think the latter is, or should be an option.
     
  13. janahn

    janahn Junior Member

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    Re: Fire Prevention - What can we do?

    a combination of grazing animals, of different orders, and physical removal will solve the problem if managed well. all you need to organise are the managers.
     
  14. ppp

    ppp Junior Member

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    Re: Fire Prevention - What can we do?

    janahn,
    Phyical removal of all of the bush?

    How much bush? I think the scales are a little out.. we are talking about 100s and 1000s of acres are we not? Including state forrest and national parks. I don't think people should be grazing national parks.
     
  15. janahn

    janahn Junior Member

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    Re: Fire Prevention - What can we do?

    hi pppp, fire breaks of cleared vegetation, kept clean with grazing. from a designers perspective, milk production if located on the edge of town as it once was. would have multiple benefits. janahn
     
  16. Michaelangelica

    Michaelangelica Junior Member

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  17. robwolters_nl

    robwolters_nl Junior Member

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  18. kimbo.parker

    kimbo.parker Junior Member

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    Re: Fire Prevention - What can we do?

    I have a problem with building houses in forests, particularly eucalypt forest. I would locate my dwelling in a paddock, the custom designed forest that would follow would be a perma-designed, fire retardant, multifunctional work of art. I would be way too scared to live like those Victorians. My fire plan of stay and defend is workable - there is no workable fire plan from WITHIN a eucalypt forest.
     
  19. missf

    missf Junior Member

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    Re: Fire Prevention - What can we do?

    well i have some great news re fire..
    my silly (actually very dumb friend) changed gas bottles with a cigarette in his mouth and the whole gas bottle went up.... it took us 40 minutes to throw enough sand on it and put it out...
    so for the good news,, because we live in sea containers the sea container got burnt paint(the gas bottle was near the wall) and the window cracked. thats it ..AFTER 45 MINUTES of the side of the wall burning that was it. no fire spreading, nothing else catching fire , safe as a ???? sea container (definitely not safe as houses lol)
     
  20. greenmachine

    greenmachine Junior Member

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    Re: Fire Prevention - What can we do?

    I just came back from helping some farmers around Mrtyleford repair fences. I have to say that was bit of an eye opener. The one thing I personally found frightening is that it was obvious that no level of preparation would have saved some homes. As an example there is a valley with about 5 klm of cleared land between the hills on either side. The hills are forested with a mixture of pine and eucalyptus. The fire actually burnt to the middle of the valley floor covering about 2.5 klms of bare paddocks. At the end of summer and during an 8 year drought these paddocks had only very short grass a few cm high yet the fire was still intense enough to destroy buildings 2 klm's plus from the nearest trees.
     

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