Bushfires

Building Safety

Buildings that have visible fire damage should not be entered or approached, due to the risk of electric shock, as the fire may have exposed electrical conductors that are live.

Buildings that have no visible fire damage may have experience significant heat exposure resulting in damage to external light fittings, power points, electrical appliances/equipment or wiring, which may also introduce the risk of electric shock.

It is advisable to ensure the buildings that have been in close proximity to a fire, are inspected by an electrical contractor to ensure there has been no damage to the electrical installation and it is safe.

Electrical appliances

After a bush fire all electrical appliances should be inspected prior to use, to ensure there is no visible evidence of fire or heat damage to the appliance including the supply cord and plug. This also applies to any hot water cylinders, heat pumps, light fittings, water pumps and motors that are installed outside.

If there is any visible fire damage or melted components, the electrical appliance or equipment should not be used and should be inspected by an electrical contractor to ensure it is safe to use.

LPG and bushfires

Potential dangers of gas equipment that may have been affected by bushfires or extreme heat.

  • LPG installations
  • storage tanks
  • household cylinders
  • portable camping cylinders

What to do with your LPG storage tank or cylinders before the threat of an approaching bushfire

  • Ensure that the area around the tank or cylinder is free from all flammable materials
  • Ensure that cylinders are in an upright position and secured on a firm level non-combustible base
  • Ensure that safety pressure relief valves of tanks and cylinders are directed away from the building and each other
  • Ensure that household or portable cylinders are not stored indoors, under buildings or stairwells
  • Ensure that all cylinders are stored away from potential ignition sources
  • Ensure that the tank or cylinder isolating valves accessible and can be easily turned off

What to do with your LPG storage tank or cylinder as a bushfire approaches

  • Turn off all gas appliances
  • Turn off cylinder or tank supply/isolating valve(s)
  • Don't forget BBQ, Caravan, Workshop cylinders
  • DO NOT disconnect or remove household cylinders from their upright position where they are on a firm level non-combustible base, ensure the cylinders are secured in place with the retention chain (if fitted)
  • DO NOT cover the cylinders with wet material to keep cool as it may dry out and become combustible
  • If the cylinders are exposed to heat, AND IF ONLY SAFE TO DO SO, hose them down with water to reduce the pressure building up inside the cylinder

What to do with your storage tank or cylinder after the threat of bushfire has passed

It is NOT safe to turn on storage tanks or cylinders. They should be checked by your Gas Supplier.

  • Any damage to tanks or cylinders, such as dents or gouges, will affect the cylinder's integrity
  • Damage to tanks or cylinders may not be visible or obvious
  • The storage tank or cylinder must be checked for damage by your gas supplier
  • If you have damaged tanks or cylinders contact your gas supplier

Gas systems and appliances after the threat of bushfire has passed

It is NOT safe to use the gas system and/or appliances. Get a licensed gas fitter to check.

The heat from the fire may have damaged gas pressure regulators, pipework or appliances, damage may not be visible or obvious.

Do not use the gas installation or appliances without first engaging a licensed gas fitter to check the integrity of the installation and appliances.

Natural gas installations

If a bushfire approaches your property and Natural Gas (NG) is connected, you should consider turning off the gas at the point of supply. Turning off the gas at the point of supply will stop gas flowing into your properties gas pipes.

Familiarise yourself with your gas meter location. If you do not know where your gas meter is contact your gas supplier.

It is imperative to locate your gas meter and know how to turn off the gas supply (in case of emergency) upon having a new natural gas supply connected to your premises or moving into new premises that has a natural gas supply.

How to turn your natural gas supply off

  1. Turn off any burners you may have alight.
  2. Locate your gas meter. The meter is usually located at the front, front left or front right side of your property.
  3. The gas supply isolating point is a valve located on the inlet (left) side of the gas meter assembly. The valve has a quarter turn action.
  4. Turn the gas supply isolating valve to the "OFF" position. The valve is off when the handle is at right angles to the pipe (see images below).

If you are unable to turn off the gas supply, advise the emergency services personnel if appropriate and follow their directions.

After a bushfire do not turn on the gas supply without first consulting with a gasfitter, your natural gas supplier or gas authority.

Portable fuel containers

Safety issues related to the transport and temporary storage of portable fuel containers at domestic premises after a bushfire.

Filling of portable fuel containers

Q. Can I use any type of portable container for fuels?

  • A. No - Fuels should always be carried in a container specifically designed for that purpose, which complies with Australian Standard AS/NZS 2906:2001

Q. What is the maximum size for a portable container that can be filled at a service station with a flammable liquid?

  • A. Retail service stations cannot fill containers greater than 25 litres with flammable liquids

Q: What safety precautions should I take when filling my portable fuel container?

  • A: When filling a portable fuel container:
    • follow all warning signs and the directions of the service station attendant
    • place the approved container on the ground when filling, keeping away from all possible ignition sources
    • to reduce the likelihood of static electricity build up and discharge keep one hand on the container while filling
    • use an earthing strap if available to prevent static electricity build up

Transport of portable fuel containers

Q. What special precautions do I need to take when transporting portable fuel containers?

  • A. You must take all precautions needed to ensure containers are transported safely, which includes:
    • ensuring containers are upright, protected from impact and are away from any heat source (eg. residual heat/direct sun)
    • ensuring lids are tightly sealed to prevent flammable vapours and liquids from escaping
    • ensuring there are no ignition sources such as cigarettes/electrical equipment
    • having appropriate fire fighting capabilities with you on the vehicle

Q. Where can I put portable fuel containers during transportation?

  • A. Containers should be transported externally to the vehicle wherever possible and are not to be transported inside a passenger compartment. WorkSafe Tasmania does not recommended transportation in the boot area of a vehicle.

Q. Do I need a special licence from WorkSafe Tasmania for transporting portable fuel containers?

  • A. No

Storage of portable fuel containers

Q. What do I need to consider when storing portable fuel containers for temporary generators/equipment at my domestic premises?

  • A. It is essential to ensure that fuels are not "stockpiled" which could create a fire risk. Only keep quantities required for immediate needs, providing they can be safely managed as part of your Bushfire Survival Plan.

Q. How should I store my portable fuel containers?

  • A. When storing portable fuel containers:
    • do not create a bulk storage in any one area
    • separate from stores of other chemicals or combustibles, including LPG cylinders
    • do not store any flammable liquids or their containers inside a domestic residence (including when empty)
    • if storing in an attached garage limit the storage to a maximum "minor quantity" - 25 litres petrol/100 litres diesel or oils

Q. What precautions should I take when storing portable fuel containers?

  • A. When storing portable fuel containers:
    • ensure storage area is adequately ventilated do not allow liquids to reach ignition sources
    • do not allow liquids to flow into drains or onto neighbouring land, or enter any creek, pond or waterway

Handling portable fuel containers

Q. What do I need to consider when using liquid fuels for temporary generators/equipment at my domestic premises?

  • A. When using liquid fuels:
    • always follow the manufacturer's safety instructions when filling and operating equipment – pay special attention to static spark control and possible potential fuel spillage
    • ensure adequate ventilation
    • any spills and leaks must be cleaned up immediately
    • have appropriate equipment available in case of fire

Portable and temporary generators

Using a portable generator for temporary electrical supply

  • Don't plug or connect the generator into the home's wiring. Power from a generator connected to a home's wiring will 'back feed' into powerlines, potentially causing a safety hazard for you, your family, neighbours and Aurora Energy workers. It may also cause damage to your generator when mains power is restored.
  • Appliances can be plugged directly into the generator, but always read the manufacturer's instructions careful, prior to doing so.
  • Use heavy duty extension cord that is rated for outdoor use.
  • Always follow the manufacturer's recommendations for earthing the generator.
  • As petrol and diesel powered produce deadly carbon monoxide fumes, always run portable generators outside the house, never inside or in a garage/shed. Also keep generators well away from from windows and doors, including neighbours, so the deadly exhaust fumes do not enter the home or building.

Portable generator capacity

Each generator has a rated wattage which limits the appliances it will safely power, please note the following;

  • Always follow the manufacturer's recommendations for proper use and capacity.
  • Don't try to connect lots of appliances at once.
  • Rotate the use of larger rated appliances, as this allows the use of a smaller generator which costs less to buy and is easier to move.
  • Overloading the generator can result in damage to the appliances it is powering.

Temporary generator connections to an installation

Where there is a need to hard wire a generator to an electrical installation as a temporary power supply, the following must occur:

  • The electrical work must comply with the standards of work requirements.
  • The licensed electrical contractor responsible for the electrical work must ensure:
    • All electrical work is designed, performed, inspected, tested, verified and certified, to meet the standards of work requirements: and
    • The electrical work is notified.
  • The electrical contractor responsible for the electrical work is to:
    • Ensure there is no possiblity of back feeding the electricity distribution network, which may require the disconnection and making safety of the customers mains;
    • Tag the point of supply or connection to the network, and the tag must identify that there is the temporary generator connection in the installation, when it was connected and where it is located.
    • Ensure all tags used are weather proof and all information is legiable and perminant: and
    • Register the temporary generator's installation with the distribution network service provider by providing the following information:
      • the contractors name and electrical contractors license number;
      • the address at which the generator has been connected;
      • the 6 digit pole identification number, of closest network service provider's pole
      • the generators capacity: and
      • whether or not the customers mains have been disconnected and made safe.

Powerline safety

Do not enter properties or approach power lines whether they are standing or fallen, unless the emergency services, TasNetworks or local councils have advised it is safe to do so, as there may be a risk of electrical shock and/or injury from falling objects.

Please note, the vibrations from an approaching vehicle can initiate the colapse of a fire damage structures, poles and also trees etc.

Members of the public can report fallen powerlines to TasNetworks Fault centre on 13 2004.

Fallen powerlines information - Tas Networks

Solar power and wind turbines

With grid/network connected generation systems, when your electricty supply from the network is interupted (such as an emergency disconnection) your solar PV system or wind turbine should automatically and immediately turn off the supply to the residence.

Stand alone generation systems (not grid/network connected) must be treated as though the power supply is still live, until proven it is to be de-energised, isolated and safe to approach.

Following a fire if you have an installed generation system, whether grid connected or not, as a precaution it is advisable that the inverter is turned off in accordance with the manufacturer's operating instructions, until the network electricty supply is reinstated and/or an electrical contractor has inspected and tested the generation systems and the installation, as being safe to energise.

Resources

TasALERT:Tasmanian Government's official emergency website. Information from emergency services and government agencies on one site

Tasmania Fire Service