Rural Fire Service urging residents to prepare homes for the worst, despite 'safe' season forecast for Wagga

Despite Wagga being labelled as a “fairly safe place” this bushfire season, the Riverina Rural Fire Service is still urging people to prepare their homes for the worst case scenario.

It comes after the RFS brought forward the official start date of the fire season fore nine local government areas, excluding Wagga.

However, RFS operational officer Bradley Stewart advised people not to get complacent when it comes to securing their home this fire season, and said the danger period would start as normal in Wagga on November 1.

“People need to trim any overhanging trees and shrubs around their home and in close proximity to the house to help reduce the spread of fire,” he said.

“Remove any materials that can burn your home including door mats, piles of wood, mulch and leaves, and keep any outdoor furniture areas regularly maintained.

Beside the traditional gutter clean out, Mr Stewart said a variety of common items are often forgotten when it comes to preparing homes for a fire.

Mr Stewart noted that flaking paint could act as an ember bed and advised people to ditch any electric-powered pressure hoses.

“The first thing that goes in a fire is electricity,” he said.

“People that will consider defending their homes need to prepare sturdy hoses that will reach around the house and shouldn’t rely on electric pressure pumps.”

Riverina RFS operational officer Bradley Stewart.

Riverina RFS operational officer Bradley Stewart.

If the fire danger rating is at a level of extreme or above, only those homes that are specifically designed to withstand blazes are defendable.

Fitzpatricks Real Estate property management director Lyn Kimball said residents should watch their smoke alarms and mind their candle use.

“Make sure your batteries are working in your smoke alarms; they can go very quickly. Even if the alarm was checked six months ago, there’s a very real chance that the battery may be flat,” she said.

“People burn candles a lot of the time and when someone leaves the room, it can only take a quick breeze for the curtain to catch on fire.

“Gas cylinder heaters that haven’t been used for more than 12 months are another risk. Make sure they are regularly maintained to prevent any build up of gas and potential explosions.”

Fitzpatricks Real Estate property management director Lyn Kimball.

Fitzpatricks Real Estate property management director Lyn Kimball.

Ms Kimball was quick to note that it is highly important for tenants and landlords “to know what exactly they’ve got insurance for”.

”Insurance for strata, for example, covers the actual solid part of the buildings and other permanent fixtures like kitchens and tiles,” she said.

“Tenants should be taking out their own contents insurance because a landlord can’t insure their tenant’s goods.”

About 90 per cent of homes lost through fires are through result of ember attacks, according to Mr Stewart.

He said that Wagga typically experiences grass fires, which “move exceptionally fast and often catch people off guard”.

“Don’t wait to do something until you see smoke billowing away over the horizon.”

“Think about your fire safety and act now.”