Australia Bushfire home risk app to bring new hope
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Australians living in bushfire zones will receive free smart-device apps designed to help them assess the risk posed to their homes.
The Bushfire Resilience Star Rating System tool also delivers practical advice on how prone householders can, if not fireproof their properties, at least make them more resilient.
In the wake of the devastating Black Summer bushfires, 2.2 million Australians living in the highest-risk areas have new reason for hope, Bushfire Building Council of Australia CEO Kate Cotter said.
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Big bushfires have devastated large swathes of the country, destroying homes and taking hundreds of lives, but it is house fires that are the most insidious killer. On average, there are 64 house fire-related deaths per year in Australia, which equates to more than one death per week, or a Black Saturday bushfire every three years.The ABC has been given exclusive access to the South Australian Country Fire Service's training facilities to get a first-hand look at what a house fire is like from the inside, and how volunteer firefighters are trained to combat them.
"We estimate that at least 90 per cent of buildings in (those) areas are not resilient to bushfire, putting lives, homes and livelihoods at unacceptable risk," she said.
"We have brought Australia's leading bushfire scientists, engineers and industry together to give households a personalised, practical solution to adapt their homes."
With $3 million in federal funding and additional support from steel producer Bluescope, insurer IAG and NAB, it's hoped the app will translate decades of scientific research into an action plan for homes old and new.
The app will be free and its use is voluntary and customised.
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As its name suggests, the tool generates a listed appraisal of a property's vulnerability tailored to building standards, landscaping and ongoing maintenance.
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It then generates a list of measures residents can undertake to make their homes more resilient.
Developed by Australia's leading bushfire experts, the device's Star Rating System also has the potential to give insurers, banks and investors a framework for financing and rewarding adaptations.
National Recovery and Resilience Agency director Michael Crawford said it's hoped the initiative will help Australians better understand disaster risk and what can be done to reduce vulnerability.
"We can't prevent natural hazards from occurring so reducing our vulnerability to those hazards is central to limiting the impact they can cause," he said.
"The star rating self-assessment app will help put knowledge in the hands of all Australians to guide their risk reduction decisions."
Former Victorian Emergency Management Commissioner Craig Lapsley describes the app's development as as "a breakthrough moment and an exciting world-first project that will help protect lives and properties".
"After decades of inquiries and recommendations we are finally able to apply Australian science and technology to deliver practical action that will have global impact."
The national launch of the Bushfire Resilience Star Rating app is planned for next year.
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