Prepare for bushfires

For Queenslanders, burning material, embers, and smoke from nearby bushfires can affect just about anywhere you live. You don't have to live in the bush to be threatened by bushfire, so families must be prepared.

2009 was one of Queensland's worst bushfire seasons on record. During one 36-day period, fire fighters attended 4491 vegetation fires and many of these threatened homes and lives. Families were faced with the decision to stay with their property or leave the area early.

The Bureau of Meteorology issues Fire Weather Warnings when the Fire Danger Index (FDI) is expected to reach or exceed a value of 50 either today or the next day. Warnings are broadcast on radio and television. In Queensland, fire authorities could declare a Total Fire Ban based on a range of criteria including the Forecast FDI from the Bureau.

You and your family need to discuss four key considerations when dealing with bush fire. First, consider the safety of you and your family. Second, consider the resilience of your property. Third, protect your irreplaceable valuables and important documents. And fourth, maintain adequate levels of life insurance, and home and contents insurance.

Queensland's Rural Fire Service has produced a booklet PREPARE.ACT.SURVIVE. which is brimming with useful information that will help you to prepare your home and your family for bushfire season and assist you in making the decision to stay or to leave.

The booklet outlines the steps you need to take as a result of your decision. Leaving late can be a deadly option. If you are in any doubt, make the decision to leave early. During a bushfire, you and your family's survival and safety depends on your preparations and the decisions you make. Those lives are more important than any building, which can always be rebuilt.

Are your family and home at risk?

  • Do you live within a few kilometres of bushland?
  • Does your local are have a bushfire history?
  • Is your home built on a slope?
  • Do you have trees and shrubs within 20m of your house?
  • Is your Bushfire Survival Plan more than one year old?


If you answered 'yes' to one or more of these questions you might be at risk in the event of a bushfire.

The Queensland Fire and Rescue Service recommends that all people living in a bushfire-prone area develop a personal Bushfire Survival Plan, which has a self-assessment tool so that you can assess the risk level for your property.  

Ask yourselves the following questions to make the correct decision faced with the decision to leave early or stay home. 

  • Do you need to consider family members who are young, elderly, of infirmed?
  • Are you physically and emotionally prepared to stay with your property?
  • Do you have the knowledge, skills, and confidence to stay with your property?
  • Is you home adequately constructed, maintained, and prepared to withstand the impact of a fire?
  • Do you have well-maintained resources and equipment to fight fire, and do you know how to use them?
  • Do you have appropriate protective clothing to fight a fire?
  • What will you do if a rapid onset fire leaves you not time to leave? Where will you shelter?


The Standard Emergency Warning Signal (SEWS) is used when bushfire threatens life. This is the same warning signal used during cyclone warnings.

These messages are delivered through local TV and radio. However, you should not expect that detailed information to be available every time there is a bushfire.