Hazard identification

A step by step tutorial for identifying the bushfire hazards around your property

The characteristics of the bushfire hazards at your location need to be determined to identify how to reduce the vulnerability of your property.

This tutorial will help you to:

  • Identify the potential bushfire hazards on your property
  • Determine the bushfire hazards at your local landscape scale
  • Identify other hazards on your property
  • Develop a map of your property and a list of the important bushfire-related features (use your Bushfire Hazard Identification Checklist)

Be aware that some steps might not be relevant for small sites where there is no discretion for where the house can be sited.

Identifying the hazards in your landscape (such as areas of dense vegetation) will help you to understand the severity of the bushfire that you might experience at your location. The size and severity of a bushfire is driven by the broader landscape (including the extent of vegetation, the type of terrain, the regions climate, and seasonal weather). To identify the hazards at your location:

  1. Search for your property using Google Maps, Google Earth or VicMap.
  2. Look at the 20-50km surrounding from your site to assess the landscape hazard.
  3. Define the type of landscape hazard by looking at the amount and type of vegetation surrounding your property – see below.

Type 1. There is little vegetation surrounding sites at this location, mainly grasslands, paddocks and urban areas. The risk at this location is relatively low.
Type 2. Sites in this area are within 150 meters of dense vegetation. The risk at this location is moderate.
Type 3. Sites in this area are close to large amounts of dense forest, where fires can develop suddenly. The risk at this location is extreme.

Identifying the hazards on your property (including local fire hazards, such as a neighbour’s house, shed, and other combustible materials) will help you to understand the risks at your location (read How do buildings ignite and Bushfire risks).

  1. Create a map of your property. An easy way to do this is by using an existing online mapping website, such as Google Maps, Google Earth or VicPlan if located in Victoria. Enter your street address and hit search.
  2. Map the 2-4 km surrounding your building site. If you are on a small block of land or are located in a suburban area, you only need to map the 500m surrounding your site.
  3. Print the map onto a piece of paper so you can draw or mark additional features. You can also edit the map on your computer using drawing software if you feel comfortable doing so.
  4. If available, you can use information from a formal site or contours survey (which often include information on the terrain, utilities, adjacent properties, trees, fences and property boundaries).
  5. On the map, identify and then draw, circle or highlight the following elements:
    • Vegetation
    • Trees or groves
    • Fences
    • Property boundaries and easements
    • Roads and access ways
    • Any fixed or immovable combustible objects, such as neighbouring houses, sheds, fences, and other noteworthy objects
    • Any movable combustible objects, such as cars, caravan, and woodheaps (such as cars, caravans and woodheaps)
  6. Add the following information to your checklist:

Close up of an example bushfire hazard map - the proposed site is in the centre, with neighbouring buildings, slope, vegetation, and a public road shown on the map

Close up of a bushfire hazard map – the proposed site is in the centre, with neighbouring buildings, slope, vegetation, and a public road also shown on the map