Bushfires, water supply and you
Bushfires are, unfortunately, as Australian as Kangaroos, meat pies and vegemite. It is with increasing intensity and unfortunately a decreasing amount of time between that we are getting affected by them. Protecting your home and property for many people is not just required by law, but a plain and simple common sense decision when it comes to the place we live.
So, why would I need a static water supply in the event of a bushfire?
In Bushfire prone areas, it is a requirement by law to have "an adequate water supply for firefighting purposes". In NSW, an adequate water supply in a storage tank must be a steel or concrete or concrete constructed tank. These laws are outlined by the Planning for Bush Fire Protection 2019 (PBP 2019) document created as a response to the 2001 Christmas fires in Sydney. The NSW government legislatively adopted this most current version of the document on the 1st of March, 2020.
In NSW, the RFS has developed guidelines that give four situation examples to help interpret the PBP 2019:
- "Unreliable reticulated (mains/town) water supply: "Where property is connected to a reticulated water supply and the water supply is known to be unreliable, and the dwelling may be subject to bushfire attack then a tank with a capacity of 5,000 litres for a dedicated fire fighting supply shall be provided. A 65mm Storz fitting and ball or gate valve shall be installed in the tank"
- "No reticulated water supply available: "Where no reticulated supply is available then a minimum 10,000 litres dedicated water supply is to be provided. Sufficient water is required to fill 3 fire fighting tankers."
- "Dual occupancy and no reticulated water: "When a detached dual occupancy building is proposed in an area where no reticulated water supply is available then a minimum 22,000 litres dedicated water supply is to be provided (i.e. 10,000L for each dwelling). This amount can be amalgamated and stored in a single tank that is accessible for both dwellings. However, provision must be made for maintenance of the tank and access to the tank."
- Dedicated water supply: "Dedicated water supply is to be stored in a fire resistant or heat shielded tank and fitted with a ball valve and a 65mm storz fitting. They must also draw from the base of the tank. If on a stand then the stand itself should be of a fire resistant construction."
Even if it's not a requirement for you, it is still an excellent idea to have a static water supply for your home's defence. When there is a significant draw on the mains water supply, such as when everyone is trying to use it for their houses - It causes a massive pressure drop and, in a worst-case scenario with potential fire disruptions, a complete stop of mains/town water supply to your home.
Okay, so how am I going to store this water?
There are two options for using a water tank as your static water supply to be fire safe, concrete or steel. Studies performed by Bushfire CRC have shown polyethylene (poly) water tanks to be completely inadequate in fire conditions when it comes to structural stability once the plastic gets weakened by fire. In some circumstances, the plastic material can even contribute to fire conditions.
Either concrete or steel construction tanks will withstand bush fire conditions and are the best choice to be purchased as an insurance policy against fires or when required by a relevant regulatory authority.
Your decision comes to price and accessibility.
With both of these factors, steel water tanks are a clear winner. With price, an equivalent capacity water tank from a leading concrete tank manufacturer is well over double the cost of one supplied by us at Coast & Country Water Tanks, and that is excluding the cost of delivery and installation. Concrete water tanks require significantly more preparation for installation as in addition to the weight of the stored water, the tank itself is also in the many tons range of weight. Delivery can be much more difficult out to many fire-prone regions, as well as concrete tanks requiring a crane for unloading or setup. These factors can quickly balloon the costs of having your concrete tank even get to you to begin with, giving metal water tanks a clear advantage regarding price.
Let us handle your bushfire water storage needs.
Here at Coast & Country Water Tanks, we can provide you with competitive pricing on regulation approved water tanks, PBP 2019 compatible metal fittings and fire fighting rated pumps. All from the same place for a hassle-free experience.
Photo credit: Nick Pitsas 2009
Planning for Bush Fire Protection 2019 - NSW RFS
Building in a bush fire area - NSW RFS
Research into the performance of water tanks in bushfire - Bushfire CRC Project D1