Residential Estate Industry Journal 4 - Page 55

Vulcan Wildfire Management conceived and RESOURCE MANAGEMENT created the first specialised wildfire ground crew in South Africa in partnership with the Western Cape Government. The experience gained in working the frontline of wildfires combined with years of research into international best practice has resulted in Vulcan creating a risk assessment and mitigation system that highlights the areas of exposure on a property and advises on practical solutions that can reduce that exposure to, and the resulting damage from, wildfires. This is called Check Protect Survive™ and is offered at a consulting level to individual homes through to large landowners and communities. Vulcan also offers various training courses through their Vulcan Training division. | This incident highlights the importance of defendable space, which is the creation of space around a home or property that will result in a fire losing momentum and dropping in intensity. This allows firefighters the opportunity to safely take on the fire, or the homeowners themselves, having sheltered from the ember storm, can come out at the safest opportunity to extinguish the spot fires that would have started in the surrounding areas. A fuel- or firebreak is not enough to stop a wildfire. In fact, a fuel break is not meant to stop a wildfire – it is designed to slow a wildfire down in the right conditions and give access to fire crews to attempt suppression tactics. In order to create defendable space, one needs to clear fine fuels from around one’s home, keep grass areas trimmed and watered, rake up and reduce leaf litter, remove flammable organic litter from around the house (especially gutters and roofs), and trim shrubs. There should be no shrubs over one metre high next to or below windows. Trim tree branches that overhang the house, and think about the ease with which fire might be able to spread from the ground into tree tops. Removing lower branches of trees and pruning shrubs so that their tops are well away from the lower branches of trees is advisable. When designing a garden, use suitable plants with low flammability potential, and retain soil moisture in on the edge of the WUI, it was the storm raining fiery embers down into the landscape that caused so much of the damage. Embers landed in gardens, igniting the vegetation, and radiant heat shattered glass windows, garden beds. Use the layout of the property to create open spaces to protect the property; these can be driveways, pools, tennis courts, gravelled areas, mown lawns, grazed paddocks and natural water features. allowing embers to spread. Embers also landed in gutters, The landscape that is created around the property may igniting organic debris, and hose flames entered the very well determine its future. roof space, causing homes to burn. These homes ignited other homes close by and so the fire storm spread, bringing the fire and destruction to those who had thought themselves safely away from the flaming front. Patrick Ryan All photographs - Knysna Fires 2017 Vulcan Wildfire Intelligence Task Force PAGE 53