Thursday, April 25, 2024

Hobart guards against ember attack

As bushfire season approaches, City of Hobart Council is taking steps to reduce risks to its own buildings, and encouraging residents to do the same.

Mesh gutter guards are being installed on 11 City of Hobart buildings, thanks to a grant received earlier this year from risk management experts, JLT.

Council says the guards will help protect the building from the risk of ember attack – or ignition from falling embers that have travelled a distance from a bushfire – by preventing build-up of leaves in gutters.

Lord Mayor, Anna Reynolds said ignition from ember attack was the most common cause of property loss in bushfire.

“Our Bushfire Strategy recognises that ember attack is a genuine threat to the city, even when the fire front is several kilometres away,” she said.

“Installation of gutter guards can help protect homes and other buildings, making it harder for embers to reach flammables materials.”

In 2020, Hobart City Council agreed to explore the development of an ember attack strategy for Hobart to understand the potential reach and impact of embers into the city. 

Recently, University of Tasmania research with Hobart residents found that ember-proofing their homes was the least common form of preparation undertaken, with just 23% of residents in Hobart’s high-risk areas of Hobart reporting they had done this work. 

For residents living closer to bushland, clearing vegetation close to their home is also important, the Lord Mayor said.

“The less fuel there is around the home, the greater the chance of defending that home if a bushfire approaches,” she said.

To help residents understand and mitigate bushfire risks, the City of Hobart has today released its Preparing for Bushfire – Action Plan for Hobart.

“This action plan takes into account Hobart’s geography and risk factors and offers advice for preparing homes so they have the best chance of withstanding a bushfire,” Cr Reynolds said.

“It also outlines the work that the City is doing to protect the community, through things like fuel breaks, fuel reduction burns and fire trail maintenance.”

As part of a joint campaign with the Tasmania Fire Service to encourage residents to prepare for bushfire season, Council has released a digitised image depicting Hobart just hours before a severe firestorm hits the city’s outskirts.

“This image has been digitally created, but it’s a very real scenario,” Lord Mayor Reynolds said.

The digitised image shows a huge column of smoke just behind the summit of kunanyi/Mt Wellington, with spot fires already affecting bushland just behind West Hobart and New Town.

“Under severe or catastrophic fire conditions this bushfire would already be threatening places like Fern Tree and Rdigeway, and we could expect the outskirts of Hobart to be under ember attack within just hours,” Cr Reynolds said.

“The intense heat and smoke from a major bushfire approaching Hobart may create its own weather patterns; visibility would drop suddenly, and the entire city and outlying suburbs could be under attack.

“The key message ahead of this year’s bushfire season is don’t wait until a major bushfire is on your doorstep and threatening your home and loved ones before you act, be prepared now.”

For more information on the City of Hobart’s bushfire management programs, visit

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