Blue Mountains News
Building Resilience Against Bushfires
The 4th annual Australian Bushfire Building Conference and Community Forum in the Blue Mountains this September 2018 will see a hive mind of building industry leaders discussing building safety in bushfire emergencies.
Bernard Fehon, CEO of Blue Mountains Economic Enterprise (BMEE), which organises the conference, says the event gives building industry professionals around Australia the chance to play a part in keeping our communities safe.
“Everyone from builders to the Rural Fire Service, architects and planners will be there to discuss current issues, innovations and future trends in bushfire building safety, and this dialogue informs future regulations,” says Mr Fehon.
With a focus on national bushfire safety, the award-winning conference welcomes guests from all over Australia.
Attendees will hear from local and international experts about bushfire building practices, research and regulations, with keynote speakers from the event’s Major Partner, NSW Rural Fire Service, Western Sydney University, the CSIRO and US-based Senior Fire Ecologist Dr. Christopher Dicus, who will examine the recent California fires that destroyed around 10,000 structures.
As Professor and Coordinator of the Wildland Fire and Fuels Management Program at California Polytechnic State University, amongst many other academic fire ecology roles, Dr Dicus brings a wealth of experience and knowledge on post-fire disaster assessment.
Held in the Blue Mountains – home to one of the most bushfire-vulnerable residential areas in NSW – the conference draws on the region’s close knowledge of bushfire recovery. This year it offers a tour of bushfire-affected areas in the upper and lower Blue Mountains, a region which saw the loss of 200 homes in the October 2013 bushfires.
While the Mountains hasn’t seen a bushfire of that scale since, Corey Shackleton, Director of Community Resilience for the NSW RFS says it’s no time for residents to drop their guard on bushfire safety.
“It’s a reminder to people, we have to be prepared,” he says.
“Being prepared” went a long way to helping the RFS and residents defend homes in the bushfires that raged through the NSW coastal town of Tathra from March 18 this year. While 65 houses were destroyed in the fires, 800 houses went unscathed, including houses built after building codes were amended following the 2009 Black Saturday bushfires in Victoria.
“This has proven [bushfire safety measures for new builds] are worthwhile. Not just for the safety of residents but for the safety of our fire fighters as well,” says Mr Shackleton.
The event is not just for professionals – Blue Mountains residents will also benefit from the free expo and forum held at Blue Mountains Community Hub in Springwood on Saturday, 8 September. NSW RFS will be there to talk about protecting your home during a bushfire and where to shelter in a house in a bushfire emergency.
Mr Shackleton’s top tip for protecting your home this bushfire season?
“On top of having a plan for yourself and your family, a well-maintained yard and no leaf litter in the gutters goes along way. Then you can take further steps to make the structure more resilient, but common sense is key.”
“Our process is to be ready for what could be: plan for the worst and hope for the best.”
Key Dates & Locations:
- Thursday 6 September 2018: Pre-conference field trip and workshop (optional)
- Friday 7 September 2018: Australian Bushfire Building Conference, Fairmont Resort Blue Mountains, Leura
- Saturday 8 September 2018: Bushfire Building Community Day – Forum & Expo, Blue Mountains Community Hub, Springwood – FREE Event.
Bushfire Building Community Day – Forum & Expo
Saturday 8 September 2018
10.00am - 3.00pm
The Blue Mountains Theatre and Community Hub, 104-108 Macquarie Road, Springwood
Free event, all welcome.
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