In the lead up to the hottest and driest time of the year, STIHL Dealer and Captain of the Mount Taylor Fire Brigade, Geoff Crane, provides a guide on how to best prepare and safeguard your home against bushfires.

Tip 1: Modify vegetation

  • This is a key aspect when preparing against bushfires regardless of the size of the property. The aim is to reduce the amount of flammable material near your home and shed.
  • For example, using STIHL shears I am able to trim shrubs surrounding the front and back garden reducing the spread of fire.
  • Use your trusty lawn mower and grass trimmer to keep lawns maintained – having long grass could encourage a fire to spread more quickly.

Tip 2: Break ladders
  • Any vegetation (dead or alive) that allows a fire to climb needs to be ‘broken’ – just as you would a ladder.
  • Breaking ladders prevents fires from climbing up to the treetops and spreading.
  • Cutting branches from the main trunk to a height of 2 metres, with a chainsaw is a way of preventing this.
  • Also remember to remove branches overhanging buildings such as your home or shed, as they also act as ladders and increase the spread of fire.

Tip 3. Target fine fuels

  • Fine fuels are materials that are less than 6mm in diameter and include fallen bark, leaf litter, grass and shrubs.
  • They predominantly impact fires by providing more fuel for the fire to burn and influencing the rate of spread.
  • I’m using a STIHL blower/vac to clean up fallen bark, leaf litter and leaves, and thus managing potential fire hazards

Tip 4. Clean gutters:

  • Don’t forget to clear fine fuels such as leaves and twigs from gutters as well.
  • Cleaning drains, gutters and downpipes of debris before the hotter and drier weather kicks in will help to protect your home and surrounding properties incase of a bushfire.
  • Tip: In the case of an emergency, having clear gutters will mean that they can be filled with water, providing an extra barrier against fires. Use a tennis ball to plug drainpipes then use your garden hose to fill them up. Remember to attach some string to tennis balls so that you can easily remove them when fire risks have subsided.