Fire Resilient Housing: How To Protect Your Home This Bushfire Season
Fire Resilient Housing
With the constant threat of bushfires in Australia, it is becoming more and more vital that we find a way to protect our homes. If you’re living in or thinking of moving to a bushfire prone area, it might pay off to think about upgrading your home to ensure it is able to withstand intense heat and flames. While there is no single solution that will totally protect one’s house available yet, there are things that a homeowner can do to decrease the risk of fire when building or upgrading their home.
Firstly, the type of cladding the home uses. This is placed all around the outside of the house and is the first line of defense against any blaze’s flames. While there are not too many regulations regarding the allowed cladding in most places for regular homes, it may be worth asking your builders about alternatives, not just the cheapest option. While a bit more expensive, it may pay off in the long run to ensure that the cladding you use is fire retardant, so it is able to withstand heat and flames for as long as possible to ensure the greatest chance of your home surviving.
The second is the frame itself. If the frame can’t withstand a bushfire, the entire house will crumble and fall along with it. Therefore it is of utmost importance that you use the highest fire retardant frame material you can afford for your home if you are in a bushfire prone zone. Steel framing is highly considered over timber for this role, however, even steal can melt and buckle under the heat of the flames if it is too intense, so be sure to discuss exactly what kind of heats the steel used in your home can withstand.
Decking, Verandahs and Gardens
When it comes to other parts of your property, you must consider the window frames, verandahs, decks and gardens and what kind of materials will be present. It has been noted that the primary cause for house loss during a bushfire are embers that remain behind after the initial flames have passed, and the weakest link for many houses is often the timber deck or verandah, which many people enjoy having and wouldn’t want to live without, however, once it sets alight the rest of the home soon follows. In fact it is claimed that any gap bigger than 2mm is big enough for embers to get into and burn.
There are ways to still keep these features without risking your home and at Epic Projects we strongly recommend looking into bushfire-resistant designs for decks and verandahs when you go to build. It is strongly suggested that you use stone, concrete, earth or galvanised iron where possible to prevent the spread of fire should it hit your property.
It is often recommended that stainless steel mesh shields be placed around windows and glass, as it is an inexpensive material and a tool that can help decrease the risk of a fire affecting your home. The mesh is able to take the radiant heat and is often used when designing homes in fire prone areas. As well as being fire resilient, it also doubles as protection from insects.
When it comes to the beloved timber decks that Australians know and love it is of high importance that fire resilient timber is used. Other things that should be considered are sprinkler systems and ensuring that any spaces between the decking timbers is minimised and the area underneath the deck is sealed off to prevent embers from becoming trapped underneath the house. It is also important to ensure there are no gaps in the subfloors, and using concrete rather than timber can be a real home and life saver.
These are just a few solutions and key ideas to keep in mind. There are constantly new materials being created, tested and eventually becoming readily available on the market. Therefore, be sure to talk with your architects, builders and engineers to ensure you utilise the most suitable for your home when you build. In order to know what is most suitable for your location there are Bushfire Attack Level systems in place designated by most councils.