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Queenslanders must prepare for bushfire season

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By Nicholas Holt

Queensland Fire Emergency Services has called on Queenslanders to start preparing their homes and properties in time for the 2020 bushfire season.

QFES urged Queensland residents to be proactive in the wake of the severe 2019 bushfire season, which burnt more than 7.7 million hectares of land and destroyed 49 houses, 68 sheds and five commercial buildings.

Acting superintendent for QFES and the Royal Fire Service Konrad Sawczynski said there were comprehensive steps Queenslander’s could take to mitigate possible damage to their homes and properties.

“The first port of call for the average Queenslander is to get onto the Rural Fire Service Queensland webpage (https://www.ruralfire.qld.gov.au/) and have a look at the bushfire safety tab,” Mr Sawcynski said.

“In that is a wealth of information on how they can prepare their properties. You don’t understand how happy it makes firefighters and how much easier it makes firefighters’ jobs if you have a really well-prepared property.

“On the webpage it actually goes through things you can do to prepare your property, (including) access into your property; the vegetation around your property, and just personal protection stuff for the homeowner including first aid kits and making sure you’ve got a bushfire survival plan.”

Mr Sawcynski said if residents had any issues understanding the information on the website, they should talk to their local brigade or area office.

“Your local brigade is a good port of call. It’s locals looking after locals,” he said.

“Those people have a wealth of knowledge of the fire history and behaviour that’s in the area. It doesn’t hurt for Queenslanders to connect with their local brigade at all.”

While some may believe they are not affected by bushfires, or that their property requires little time to be adequately prepared, Mr Sawcinsky has warned strongly against this kind of thinking.

“The problem that we usually face is that people think that once they see smoke they can tidy up their house and it’ll be protected — but that’s just not the case,” he said.

“Preparation could take you a couple of days. If you’ve got a lot of shrubbery around the house, if you’ve got furniture on your deck, they’re the sort of things that you can clean up and get it away from your house.

“During fire season you might pull the furniture in off your wooden deck; make sure you’ve gone through the steps in your bushfire survival plan, and decide whether you’re going to leave early, or stay, and communicating that with your family.

“And I’ll go a step further: you really need to communicate that to your neighbours as well. The best way to prepare is to have your neighbours on board. Even in your street — have a street plan of what you’re all going to do to help one another.

“It’s easier to clean up your house and remove wood piles from around your house and the like with four or five different people from your neighbourhood and move from house to house to prepare it, rather than trying to do it by yourself.”

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