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Methods of Hazard Reduction

Reduction of fuel does not have to be as drastic as removing all vegetation. Environmentally this would be disastrous and often trees and plants can provide you with some bushfire protection from strong winds, intense heat and flying embers.

There are three main methods of hazard reduction:

  • hand clearing
  • mechanical clearing
  • burning

In many circumstances, hand and mechanical clearing methods should be considered the best way to protect assets. These methods can be safer than burning, and easier to organise and maintain. 

Raking or manual removal of fine fuels: remove fuels such as fallen leaves, twigs and bark on a regular basis.

Mowing grass: keep grass short, green and well watered.

Slashing and trittering: this is an economical and effective method of fuel reduction. However it's best if the cut material must be removed or allowed to rot before summer starts. Slashing and mowing may leave grass in rows, increasing fuel in some places. Trittering, or turbo mowing, also mulches the vegetation leaving the fuel where it is cut.

Ploughing and grading: these methods can produce effective firebreaks, however, the areas need constant maintenance. Loose soil may erode in steep areas, particularly where there is high rainfall and strong winds.

Removal or pruning of trees and shrubs: the management of existing vegetation involves selective fuel reduction (removal, thinning and pruning) and retention of vegetation, which may have beneficial effects by acting as windbreaks and radiant heat barriers. See the landscaping section of the RFS document, Guidelines for Asset Protection Zones, which you can link to from the bottom of this page.

If, after considering the above, burning remains the best method, low intensity burns are preferred and should be carefully planned.

Hazard reduction burning: this practice removes excess ground litter and hazards through use of fire. Controlled burning or prescribed burning of vegetation is more often used for strategic bushfire management by land management agencies. Before burning any vegetation the type of fire should be determined. Is it a pile burn or a burn of an area of bushland? Call your nearest RFS Fire Control Centre or NSW Fire Brigade for advice on burning. Consult the RFS documents Guidelines for Pile Burning and Guidelines for Low Intensity Burning, which you can link to from the bottom of this page.

Bear in mind you may require a Bush Fire Hazard Reduction Certificate or other environmental approval to clear or burn. A permit to light a fire may also be required for burning hazards, particularly during the Bush Fire Danger Period.

Hazard reduction burning should involve experienced landholders or qualified firefighters to ensure the fire does not escape and the operation is carried out safely. Adequate equipment and protection measures are needed.

The RFS has several publications available on living in bushfire prone areas these are available in PDF format from our Publications Area and from RFS Fire Control Centres.

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