Bushfires are quite common in Australia and areas at risk of fires have to be protected. Many homes are destroyed by ember attacks, which usually start in unprotected gutters and inside homes and buildings through small gaps. Windborne embers from bushfires can ignite and destroy property. Ember and gutter guards protect homes from the devastating impacts of bushfires.

Therefore, it is absolutely crucial to ensure that ember guards are made from superior quality materials to prevent fires. Ember guards are covers that protect any opening or cavity from the entry of burning embers according to the Australian Standard AS3959-2009. Studies indicate that 85% of homes are burnt down by windborne embers and not through direct contact with bushfire. It is, therefore, important to understand the long-term benefits of products such as ember and gutter guards as this awareness can drastically reduce the chances of bushfires affecting your property.

How does an ember guard differ from a gutter guard?

First off, the main difference is the size of the hole or the space between each intersecting wire mesh. The ember guard must have a hole of 2mm or less, while there is no size fixed for a gutter guard.

Generally, gutters are prone to ember attacks. When dry leaves gather in unprotected gutters, they can be easily ignited by windborne embers. Some gutters have a poor quality gutter mesh that allows leaves to gather. Ember guards, on the other hand, are more condensed in structure and protect the opening from burning embers more thoroughly as per Australian Standards. The 2mm steel ember guard mesh can be used on roof ventilation openings, fascia, valleys, ridges and hips. They can be fitted to openings in roof ventilators, vent pipes, and vented roof lights as well. They can be installed on roof light glazing and eave ventilation openings too.

Choosing the right ember guards to meet Bushfire Attack Level (BAL) ratings

Ember guards can be selected to meet requirements for all new homes in 12.5 to FZ BAL rated areas. These BAL standards are specified for new homes as a bushfire proofing measure. However, it can also be used for old homes as well as dwellings that are located in low bushfire risk zones.

Depending on the BAL of your customer’s property, the Australian Standard AS3959-2009 mandate differs. As ember guards come in different BAL ratings, you have to choose the right ember guard to suit your customer’s property requirements. For example, when the area is BAL 12.5 or more, the ember guards are required to seal gaps that are more than 3mm, such as in roof sheeting.

Aluminium gutter guards can prevent ember attacks but do not classify as official ember guards

If your customer’s property is located in areas that have 12.5 or 19 or 29 BAL rating, you may use corrosion-resistant ember guards made of steel, aluminium or bronze. However, steel ember guards that are corrosion-resistant are the best solution. Aluminium gutter guards can protect against fine-leaf trees such as pines, jacarandas and she-oaks. However, these encourage other things to go through into the gutter with a slight rainwater runoff. Therefore, it is best to install steel or bronze ember guards for areas with high bushfire risk.

BAL 40 and BAL FZ rated ember guards must be made from steel

If the customer’s home is located in an area that has a BAL rating of 40 or FZ, you must ensure that the ember guards are made of steel or bronze and that they are corrosion-resistant. The 2mm steel mesh is perfect and complies with all regulations to suit all BAL ratings of 12.5, 19, 29, 40 and FZ. Steel ember guards have fine apertures that keep pests and small leaves out of the roof gutter.

Bushfires destroyed almost 46 million acres of land in Australia between June 2019 and Feb 2020; they continue to devastate the country and have hurt millions of homeowners and Aussie businesses. Ensuring adequate protection to houses and buildings from a bushfire by installing ember guards that meet Australian Standards is the best solution to the fire hazard.

It is important to communicate this information to customers, given that more than 70% of residents living in bushfire risk zones are unaware of the advantages of ember guards.