Bushfire Recovery - Returning to and cleaning up your property

Returning to your property after a bushfire

You might find a hazard identification notice on your property when you return after a bushfire. This notice indicates dangers like electrical risks, falling branches or asbestos may have been identified on your property.

If the Hazard Identification Notice indicates asbestos is suspected on your property, you can get further information from the Public Works Advisory on 1800 88 55 39.

When you return home, even if there is no hazard identification notice:

  • Do not enter your property until emergency services or utilities companies advise that it is safe.
  • Electrical hazards could exist, such as live power lines that might be down or active solar panels.
  • Buildings and other structures might be unstable to enter or walk over.
  • Sewerage services might be disrupted, causing health risks.
  • Wear a P2 face mask, which can filter out very fine particles from the air.
  • Be aware that hot, smouldering coals and other potentially hazardous materials might be hidden under the rubble.
  • Building rubble should not be buried because it might contain hazardous materials.
  • Don’t spread ash around your property, particularly if asbestos materials were used in your home or other structures, or CCA-treated timber was burnt.
  • Moisten ash with water to minimise dust and keep damp but do not use high-pressure water sprays.

If you are insured, insurance companies will arrange clean-up and removal of bushfire debris.

Asbestos and hazardous materials

Houses, sheds and other buildings damaged in a bushfire can leave potential health and safety hazard in the debris and ash.

Visit the NSW Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) website for information and factsheets to help property owners if their home or other structures on their property have been damaged in a fire.

Asbestos dust and fibres have the potential to present a health risk during and after a fire if not properly managed.

Asbestos waste, including fibro, should be disposed of as soon as possible:

  • Arrange for any asbestos clean-up and removal to be conducted by a licensed asbestos removalist.
  • Materials should be kept damp until they can be double wrapped in heavy duty (0.2mm) plastic, sealed with tape and labelled as asbestos waste.
  • Visit SafeWork NSW for information about the safe handling and removal of asbestos.
  • Visit the NSW Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for information about the transport and disposal of asbestos.

Licence checks

After a natural disaster, emergency repairs need to be carried out. Affected consumers are highly vulnerable during this time and need to be wary of unlicensed tradespeople.

Protect yourself and your investment by making sure you hire the right people for the job. Always check your tradesperson holds the right licence for the job.

Call NSW Fair Trading on 13 32 20 for a free licence check.

Visit the NSW Fair Trading Housing & Property webpage for more information. 

Fire retardant

Aerial firefighting activities can use coloured foam to suppress bushfires. This type of retardant contains fertiliser and must be flushed from roofs and water sources.

To prevent this retardant or ash getting into water tanks, residents should disconnect downpipes from their water tanks until rain or washing removes this material from the roof.

For more information, contact the Disaster Welfare Assistance Line on 1800 018 444.

Recovery information for hazardous items

Gas bottles

Solar panels

Treated timbers