Backyard water supplies to be used for bush fire emergencies

Published: 10th October 2009

Emergency Services Minister Steve Whan today called on people living in bush fire-prone areas to notify their local firefighters of backyard water supplies such as swimming pools and dams that could be used in a bushfire emergency.

Mr Whan said a simple initiative made it possible for residents to alert fire services to these precious water supplies.
"All you need to do is contact your local fire station for a plaque or sticker with the letters SWS - Static Water Supply - that can then be attached to your fence or telegraph pole at the front of your home so it can be seen from the road," he said.
"As a last resort, if firefighters need additional water sources to protect homes, they know where to go," he said. "In a fire, the SWS sign and your backyard pool or dam could save your home or your neighbour's home."
Mr Whan said approximately seven per cent of all households had an alternative source of water such as a rainwater tank or bore water and an estimated 13 per cent of households had a swimming pool.

Both the NSW Fire Brigades (NSWFB) and the NSW Rural Fire Service (RFS) have a static water supply program.
NSWFB Acting Commissioner John Benson said firefighters were raising awareness in the community about the importance of the SWS program at the start of the bush fire season.
"There are many things people who live in bush fire prone areas can do to prepare their homes for bush fires and the SWS program is one way the community can help firefighters protect them and their homes," he said.
RFS Commissioner Shane Fitzsimmons said being able to access additional water sources during a bush fire was essential for frontline firefighters.

"Water from pools, dams, creeks and large water tanks can be used to fight approaching bush fires and prevent a house fire from spreading to neighbouring homes," he said.

Contact your local fire station for an SWS plaque or sticker for your home.

Learn more by reading our SWS factsheet