Reducing the risk of slasher fires

Paechtown bushfire early on - started by slashing 6/02/2022

It’s vital your home and property are prepared for the bushfire season – before it starts.

Mower and slasher fires are often the result of residents trying to undertake hazard reduction too late in a season on grass that has already dried out, or when cutting is undertaken during warm/hot and dry conditions, or a combination of these factors.

The CFS strongly recommends that all activity to reduce, remove and manage vegetation is complete prior to the season. Therefore, any activity that is required to maintain the area during the summer months is minimal.

Not only is it safer to cut these areas while they’re still green, before they significantly cure or dry out, but it will keep areas greener for longer and mean that any follow up mowing is less hazardous.

clear your property

If you do need to undertake maintenance work, particularly slashing or mowing, during the summer months there are several things you can do to reduce the risk of starting a fire.

Before you start:

  • Think about the upcoming weather and the current conditions. Avoid days with hot and dry conditions and make the best use of the cooler damp mornings or cooler late afternoons. These times of the day are when the fire risk is lower but also mean if a fire does start, it’s likely to not be as intense or as long in duration.
  • If it’s a total fire ban, the CFS strongly recommends that the activity be postponed until a more suitable day. Mowing or slashing is allowed on a Total Fire Ban Day, during the declared Fire Danger Season provided you comply with the legislation by having a 4-metre cleared break of all flammable materials around the area being cut, or a portable water spray and a rake or shovel at hand, and the exhaust system is deemed to comply with legislation.
  • If you’re unsure of what might be in the grass or around the property, walk through the area you plan to mow/slash first. This will help to reduce the risk of rock strikes and allow you time to remove any hazards, which could prevent damage to your machinery.
  • Rocks or other obstacles hiding in the grass can cause sparks if they’re hit. If you’re slashing/mowing raise the blades so you can cut higher off the ground. Around 10cm is an appropriate height to be cutting. Remember the aim is to reduce the fuel loads, you don’t have to get rid of it all.

During:

  • When mowing, start from the outside and work inwards. By decreasing fuel loads around the perimeter first, you will have created a fire break around the area you’re working. This will help to prevent the spread of a fire if one does start.
  • Ensure you have something on hand to extinguish the fire. Objects are considered at hand if you were to take less than 5 steps to reach the object. For a domestic block of less than 1,000m2 it would be considered that equipment was at hand if it's readily available and in sight during the operation. For a larger block it would be considered at hand if the equipment was attached to the cutting device.
  • It's vital you have the ability to call 000 quickly and efficiently if you need, is vital.