Shoalhaven local sealing gaps to retrofit his home for the bushfire season. Photo: supplied.

A new app launched on Monday will allow households to access bushfire risk assessments and customised action plans for their properties in preparation for the upcoming summer. The app has already helped more than 1200 households reduce the chance of their house igniting during a bushfire by an average of 67 per cent.

The Bushfire Resilience Rating Home Self-Assessment app, developed by the Resilient Building Council and launched by Drought and Emergency Management Minister Murray Watt, will allow the average consumer to access decades of science and research to inform their decisions.

App users can access a free “resilience rating” indicating how their homes will perform during a bushfire. The rating will update as individualised tasks tackling local and property risks are completed.

After a 20-minute survey, the world-first scientific system will create tasks based on best practices, building construction methods, materials, landscaping, and ongoing maintenance.

The system was developed in response to the 2020 Royal Commissions into National Natural Disaster Arrangements and calls from governments, insurers, banks, and households for a tool to help increase the resilience of individual homes after the record-breaking fire season in the northern hemisphere this year.

Shoahaven community member using app

The development of the tool follows the release of the Defending Sydney report authored by the Committee for Sydney, which calls for increased action to defend against climate events.

Kate Cotter, chief executive of the Resilient Building Council, said the app realised her founding mission to bring together experts to help friends and family after the Black Saturday bushfires in Victoria in 2014. 

“There are lots of simple, low-cost things people can do themselves right away, and as everyone starts taking action, Australia will be better prepared and better off,” Cotter said.

“We co-designed the app with communities recovering from bushfires and piloted it with the Shoalhaven community in NSW, who were severely impacted by the Black Summer bushfires in the summer of 2019-20.”

“What started out as trying to help family and friends has led to a national effort to improve the resilience of all Australian homes.”

“Our mission is to support people with practical information that helps them understand the specific risks to their home and evidence-based tools and recommendations that empower them to take the actions that matter”.

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