Fuel Break Network Maintenance Program

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What’s happening?

The City of Hobart's annual fuel break maintenance program commences between the months of October and December. Contractors supervised by Council staff will conduct the work, which may cause some disruption and noise. We will try to minimise this as much as possible. We ask for your cooperation, particularly in ensuring children and pets are kept away from work areas.

What is a firebreak and why have some been improved?

Places where houses and the bush meet are where people and properties are most likely to be exposed to smoke, embers, radiant heat and direct flame during a bushfire. Risk to life and property is greatest in these areas.

Firebreaks are buffer areas along the edges of reserves which join urban development. The vegetation is selectively removed to reduce fire fuels to very low levels. Firebreaks provide some protection from fires and allow access for bushfire response and hazard reduction burning operations. 

The shape of each firebreak varies from site to site, depending on the slope of the land and type of vegetation. Reducing fuel within a firebreak does not mean all vegetation must be removed. Current guidelines recommend some canopy trees be kept for protection from strong winds, radiant heat and flying embers. Most of the understory and shrubs are removed but small amounts can be kept as clumps or islands. Ground cover is kept to prevent soil erosion, but at a low height, especially during the bushfire season.

The City annually maintains over 100 firebreaks covering more than 50 ha across its bushland reserves. This work is done each year to keep fuel levels low.

The Tasmania Fire Service recently developed new guidelines and an interactive tool for the design of firebreaks in Tasmania. The guidelines introduce an approach that is consistent, science-based and current best practice for firebreak design and construction. The City of Hobart has been working to implement the new guidelines and plans to complete the project early next year.

Reducing the risk – what you can do

Management of bushfire risk is a shared responsibility between property owners and the City of Hobart, which manages the City’s bushland reserve system. Absolute protection of life and property in the urban-bushland interface can never be guaranteed, but using a combination of management strategies, with each of us doing our part, will reduce the risk for everyone.

The most important things that you can do to protect yourself, the people around you and your home and property are:

  • Plan and prepare yourself for a fire event.
  • Reduce the bushfire fuel levels around your home and buildings and particularly within your yard where it adjoins the bushland reserve. Do not dispose of garden cuttings in bushland reserves, as this will increase the bushfire risk to your own property as well as your neighbour’s. 
  • Do not plant vegetation in Council owned fuel breaks. Any plantings will be removed, as they hinder the effectiveness of the fuel break.

If you would like more information visit the Tasmania Fire Service website or telephone 1800 000 699. If you would like further information on this or other City bushfire management programs, please contact City of Hobart on (03) 6238 2886.