A man on a ladder clears leaves from his gutter.

Published on 21 November 2022

Are you bushfire ready?

Fire Danger Season kicks off on Thursday 1 December and Onkaparinga residents are being urged to ensure they’re bushfire ready.

The South Australian Country Fire Service (CFS) has a range of free resources available at its website, making it easy for you to plan and prepare for a bushfire.

Resources include tips on how to do your five-minute bushfire plan, how to prepare your home and property, how to stay informed, and how to prepare emergency kits.

Council’s senior emergency management officer Neal McDonald echoed the CFS’s key messages, urging Onkaparinga residents not to be complacent this Fire Danger Season in order to keep them and their loved ones safe.

“Many at-risk residents think their bushfire danger is low and that having a plan in place in case of bushfire isn’t a high priority,” he said.

“In fact, one-in-five South Australians living in bushfire risk areas don’t have a decision or plan for bushfires, and one-in-three incorrectly think they don’t live in a bushfire risk area, or don’t know either way.

“Having a bushfire survival plan is essential, and you need to think about what you’ll do if a bad fire day approaches—where you’ll go, when you’ll leave, and what you’ll take.

“Include the whole family in your preparations so they’re empowered and know what to do in an emergency.

“While we’ve had a wet spring, this has caused an exponential growth of vegetation, which means there will be more fuel to burn when the weather inevitably dries out.

“Things you can do now to clear around your property include slashing or mowing long grass and removing cut material (unless it can rot down before summer), removing weeds, cutting back trees overhanging your home, removing fallen branches and other debris, and removing leaves from gutters.

“Subscribe to CFS warnings through their website and download the Alert SA App, but don’t rely on a single source—stay informed using multiple sources of emergency warning information.”

To see what level of bushfire risk your area is in, use the state government’s map-based online bushfire risk assessment tool. You can find a list Onkaparinga’s Bushfire Safer Places and Bushfire Last Resort areas at the CFS website.

Council’s bushfire preparation efforts

Council has commenced its regular fire season preparedness efforts, which involve providing advice to residents through its community development programs, the slashing of dry grass on reserves and rural roadsides, and removal of weeds that are highly flammable.

This is the busiest time of year for grass-cutting, with field staff tackling the peak growth season in SA’s largest metropolitan council area.

The team maintains more than 1900 hectares of open space and council road verges on a rotational basis throughout the year, however during times of abundant growth—due to increased rains and warmer weather—work schedules can be affected.

Some areas remain too wet to cut and staff will return to those later. You can find out more about council’s mowing schedules at the City of Onkaparinga website, and check whether a road is maintained by council or state government via this map.

Council fire prevention officers have commenced their annual inspection program for high-risk properties in the council area, including all vacant land. Notices may be issued to landowners to reduce vegetation that is a bushfire hazard on their land. To report a property you believe to be a fire hazard after the fire danger season commences, visit council’s website.

Bushfire Preparedness Project

On top of council’s regular bushfire preparedness efforts, work has begun on its $3.57 million three-year Bushfire Preparedness and Resilience Project, thanks to grant funding from the Australian Government.

The project will further reduce fuel loads in high-risk areas on council land, consult experts to gain a greater understanding of bushfire risks in the area, educate residents about the important role they play in reducing bushfire risk, and support Community-led Disaster Resilience (CDR) groups.

Council has already used some funding to employ a project officer and two new specialist field staff—who are trained bush care workers—to reduce additional fuel loads while protecting native biodiversity; and purchase a high-tech remote-controlled tracked mower called a Green Climber, which can mow previously difficult-to-access areas.

Over the next few months, council staff will visit reserves, roadsides, and trails to cut long grasses, remove flammable weeds and reduce overall fuel loads in Blewitt Springs, Chandlers Hill, Cherry Gardens, Clarendon, Coromandel East, Flagstaff Hill, Happy Valley, Ironbank, Kangarilla, McLaren Flat, McLaren Vale, Onkaparinga Hills, Willunga and Woodcroft.

To learn more about the project, including how areas are prioritised and what areas will be covered in the 2022–23 financial year, visit Your Say Onkaparinga.