There’s an app to help prepare your home for the bushfire season
In a world first, Australians now have access to a free “bushfire risk assessment app” to better prepare their home against the dangerous summer heat.
The Bushfire Resilience App, launched last month by the Resilient Building Council (RBC), allows households to easily assess their “site-specific bushfire risk” and access customised action plans for their properties.
After a 20-minute survey about the property, app users can access a free “resilience rating” indicating how their homes will perform during a bushfire.
Then, using historical house loss data and the groundbreaking Bushfire House Loss Probability Model, the system will create tasks based on best practices, building construction methods, materials, landscaping, and ongoing maintenance.
The rating will update as individualised tasks tackling local and property risks are completed.
The app is already being hailed as a game-changer. Trials of the app in several fire-prone locations across Queensland, New South Wales and Victoria helped over 1200 households reduce the chance of their house igniting in a bushfire by an average of 67 per cent.
For one trial participant, Sue Josephson, the app plays a vital part in protecting her home.
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“Our home is more than just a building to us - it’s irreplaceable,” she said.
“Our Plan A is to leave early, it’s not worth risking our lives, but we want our home to be there when we return, so we’re doing everything we can to make it as resilient as possible.
“We’ve been sharing the app with everyone we know and giving our neighbours a hand. We’re getting ready together, rather than feeling hopeless.”
Homeowners can find the app on the Bushfire Resilience Home Assessment website.
The sooner you upgrade, the better
The app’s lead engineer, Dr Ian Bennetts, wants homeowners to start upgrading their homes as soon as possible.
“Bushfires exploit the weakest link in homes, whether they are old or new,” he said.
“There are often many low-cost actions that will improve the home’s resilience immediately, such as draught sealing and moving surfboards and caravans away from the home.
“People can get started today. The more homes upgraded in a community, the less risk of house-to-house fire spread, which can lead to the loss of whole townships.”
The release of the app came only days after the country witnessed over 1000 bushfires destroy almost 100 homes across Queensland and NSW and claim the lives of eight people.
The next phase of RBC’s Resilience Ratings program will be launched by mid-2024, providing expert on-site assessments for integrated bushfire, flood, storm, cyclone, heatwave, and energy efficiency ratings.
On-site assessors will provide a detailed home assessment and verify the app’s Resilience Ratings to support industry initiatives, grants programs or advertising when selling or leasing a property.
Minister for Emergency Management Murray Watt said that while governments have a responsibility to help Aussies prepare for severe weather, it’s up to households to protect their homes.
“As more people use the app and take action - large or small - communities around Australia will be better prepared,” said Mr Watt.
“The Australian Government continues to explore and support ways to make Australia more resilient to natural disasters, including through the Disaster Ready Fund, which offers up to $1 billion over the next five years for projects that support Australians to manage the physical and social impacts of disasters.”