For many parts of Australia, the summer of 2019-2020 was one of the worst bushfire seasons on record, with devastating effects on many communities and their environment. Climate change is contributing to an increase in the number of high fire weather danger days, more severe fire weather and much longer fire seasons. Although the City of Ryde local government area was largely spared from the destruction of last summer, there have previously been major bushfire events including for example during in 1994 in the Lane Cove River valley. Parks and open spaces are among the great natural attractions of our City. However, living next to or near bushland can come with higher risks.
Although fire and emergency service agencies will do everything in their capacity to manage a bushfire, you also have an active part to play in preparing and protecting your home and the people who live in it. These actions include:
- Understanding the risks from bushfires in your area
- Ensuring a bushfire survival plan for your home is in place
- Preparing your home against bushfire
- Knowing your alternative safer refuge locations
- Having emergency contact details for support from friends and family
- Being aware of Council support for properties at higher risk from bushfires.
The information, advice and tools provided in the following sections will help you and your household become ‘resilient ready’ to prepare for and respond to the threat or risks from bushfires and many other severe weather events such as storms, floods and heatwaves.
Know your risk
You don't have to live right near the bush to be at risk. Embers can travel as far as 20 kilometres ahead of a fire, starting spot fires around property well away from bushland and the direct impact of a bushfire front. Managing ember attacks is critical with about 85 per cent of houses being destroyed in this way during bushfires.
Make a Plan
The time to make a Bushfire Survival Plan is now, not when a fire starts. Will you stay and defend your home? If you plan to leave, when and where will you go? Do you have a backup plan if your escape route is blocked? Does your family know what to do if a bushfire threatens the area?
The NSW Rural Fire Service (RFS) has resources to help you make important decisions well before you are threatened by a bushfire.
The amount of information with so many choices available can overwhelm and even confuse, so the locally relevant Climate Wise Communities Ready Check tool, adapted for the City of Ryde, may help with making a plan for your home. This can assist with protection against bushfires alongside other potential extreme weather events or shocks.
To help keep alerted and track the development and movements of bushfires in your region, district or local area, you can get frequently updated information including maps, reports and emergency advice through the Fires Near Me website or apps for iPhone and Android. These links and tools can form part of your plan and its activation should you need to do so ahead of a potential bushfire situation.
Prepare your home
A well prepared home is more likely to survive a bush fire or ember attack, will be easier for you or firefighters to defend, and is less likely to put your neighbour’s homes at risk.
Apart from the five steps and self-complete actions recommended in Climate Wise Communities Ready Check tool, the key measures for preparedness include:
- Clean your gutters of leaves and twigs and install metal gutter guards.
- Repair damaged or missing tiles on the roof.
- Fit seals to eliminate gaps around windows and doors and install fine metal mesh screens.
- Enclose the areas under the house and repair or cover gaps in external walls.
- Have a well-equipped emergency kit in a safe place with items including first aid materials, a battery powered torch and radio, and drinking water.
- Avoid storing fuel sources in the backyard.
- Keep lawns short and gardens well maintained and cut back trees and shrubs overhanging buildings. You may need approval from Council before pruning or removing your tree. Penalties apply for unauthorised tree work. To check if you need approval, please view information about Trees.
- Clean up fallen leaves, twigs and debris around the property and move flammable items like gas cylinders away from the house.
- Assist less mobile and able neighbours to prepare their home.
- Consider reticulated water systems for roofs if near bushland as an additional water source, or install future water tanks on site as a backup water source.
- Have hoses long enough to reach around your house.
- If you have a pool, tank or dam, put up a Static Water Supply (SWS) sign to alert firefighters.
- Check your home and contents insurance, and make sure it has adequate cover and is up to date.
- Residents are reminded that no removal of any trees (private or public) lands is permitted without Council’s written consent and fines will apply for illegal removal.
Know your Neighbourhood Safer Places
Neighbourhood Safer Places for refuge in the City of Ryde are areas of last resort during a bushfire emergency. In Ryde, they are mainly open spaces with no shelter and are some distance from bushfire prone land. Your trigger to leave should be early enough so you do not need to use a Neighbourhood Safe Place.
You should know where your local Neighbourhood Safer Places are and how to get there, as well as alternate routes in case the road is blocked or becomes too dangerous. The City of Ryde has two Neighbourhood Safer Places:
- Macquarie Shopping Centre car park, Talavera Rd, Macquarie Park (see map)
- Monash Park, Corner Ryde Rd and Monash Rd, Gladesville (see map)
Find out more about Neighbourhood Safer Places.
For more detailed information on fire danger ratings and alert levels, total fire bans and fire permits, and reporting bushfire hazards, visit our Fire danger alert levels and reporting page.