Experts agree that in order to reduce the risk of property damage and loss associated with bushfires, the design and siting of buildings is of paramount importance. For example, you should ensure there is enough cleared land between the house and the bush, or avoid steep hillsides where the intensity of the fire can double for each 10 degrees of slope.
Also important is your choice of building material, which will not only protect the home from bushfire, but also help defend it against other fire events.
Home owner John Irving had first-hand experience of this when fire tore through the bush surrounding his HardiPlank® weatherboard clad house. He was certain that he would return to little more than a charred wasteland.
Indeed, the once tall trees and bushland surrounding his property were devastated, but, miraculously, his house was almost untouched.
"When we extended our house, we decided to reclad it with HardiPlank from James Hardie. We liked the weatherboard look, and we also knew that it is a fireresistant material. This is essential in our fire-prone area, which is in the part of Victoria's Dandenong Ranges known as 'Devil's Chimney' for the number and severity of fires we experience," says Irving.
"You occasionally see stories in the media of all the houses in a street being destroyed except one, which was untouched. We had just been fortunate enough to build our house from a building material that doesn't burn - if our house had been made from timber or another (combustible) product we would almost certainly have lost it.
"But because we made the right choice in building materials at the beginning, it's still standing," he says.
Deemed non-combustible by the Building Code of Australia, building products like James Hardie'sHardiPlank weatherboard and the innovative Scyon™ range of products are ideal for use in Australian bushfire-prone areas.