The Bushfire Bunker Finished

Years ago – after the 09 BushFires – there was all this discussion about BUSHFIRE BUNKERS. Dierderek at that time posted – to say that he was building a bukner. Adn the days went by he sent me images of the bunker he was building. More recently there was a comment-query in my blog post of 2009 – asking if Dierderek had finished the bunker. Dierderek wrote to me soon after to ask if I would like to post up the latest images. So here it is.

This is Dierderek’s description: “The bunker has been finished for quite a while now and has settled into the country side very well. The Besser block air lock and smoke door went on with a minimum of fuss and we have practised sitting in it for a period of time. We have stocked it with food and water and sleeping gear (in case we lose the house). The metal file drawer is for insurance and personal effects. The sign is a personal touch and present from my Mother in law. I feel we have created an escape from a large fire and, at the least, i have not been complacent.”









A Bunker Building Story

Hello Soumitri,
A short story on shipping container fire bunkers,

The myths surrounding container fire bunkers E.G they will become an oven etc can be summed up in one word, horse…..

Once they are in the ground they are cool as a cucumber. It is true that soil is the best insulator. So a few things I have learnt doing this project.  First and foremost buy a good, I mean GOOD container, if it already has a lot of dents and rust it will make your job twice as hard. To many dents make it prone to crush easier and a lot of rust means more work for you sanding it off after it has been delivered (make sure you unload it close to the hole) you can begin your reinforcing. We used 100mm x 50mm square steel and it was 5mm thick. I am glad we did as the container crushed a fraction and we had to weld more reinforcing on the inside. For the roof we put a length of 100mmx50mm down the middle and a “c” purling on top of it,then one either side at a gap of 450mm to take the corrugated iron roof. I am also glad we did this as the roof would have sagged quite considerably with the soil on top of it. Next comes the bitumizing which must be done on a hot day otherwise it does not flow. It took one person 6 hours to do this. We did the roof as well. Next was solving the problem of being able to close the door from the inside. This turned out to be simple, we took the closing  bars,which seals the door shut, and ground of the closing mechanisms on the outside, so they could not operate. We then welded two angles, one on each door, on the inside, and dropped a large piece of timber across it like an old castle door I guess. This insures you can’t get locked in. It hasn’t sealed 100% but I am confident with a little bit of fiddling , it will. Marking out the hole was simple but don’t expect to get it with an even 200mm fill gap around for your rock-fill. With a massive excavator digging it out, it just doesn’t work that way. Allow extra rock. We made sure the  bottom of the hole was sloping  down to allow for water runoff . We leveled the bottom of the hole with 50mm blue metal and lowered the container in. That was one of the easiest tasks. We put industrial plastic over the roof and started the backfilling. It truly was a shock that the walls bowed, even if it was only marginal. We are confident with the new centre support in place nothing more will move. You will notice in the photos the supports for the retainer walls on the top and sides, this stops the soil from slipping until the front airlock is built. I will take my time doing the airlock as I don’t  like block laying much. So, cost so far.
1) container…2,600
2) steel………1,000
3) blocks…..1,000 with cement
4) bitumen…180.00
5) excavator and blue metal…3,000
6).odds & sods…200.00
The welder was a friend and worked for barter, the rest my wife and i did and will do. Labour has not been factored in.
I will post more photos when it is complete.


Images of the BushFire Bunker Installation

For Images of the finished Bunker and Dierderek’s latest description Click here: Images of Bunker Finished 2011

Melting Human Flesh

This one is for Barbara – I was at this public event and someone comes up to you and says, ‘hey that thing, that bunker thing. I am watching that space for ideas’. It felt good. For the faint voice is committed to stay hidden and only talk about the small and the hidden.

If you have been reading the papers in Melbourne – I have collected the first ten days of the papers – you will see a few things happening, I will open up and explain what the ‘experts’ are saying. Now remember I am not an expert, just a voice (and a faint one at that).

What did the fire department person say? The stay and fight policy has to be reviewed – should we go the way of California and forcibly evacuate. Then we must not build in the bush – period. Not worth the loss of life and the continuous bushfire fighting that the CFA has to do.Head of bushfires inquiry abandons stay-and-defend policy | Herald Sun

THE head of the Royal Commission into the Victorian bushfires has already abandoned the stay-and-defend policy as fires rage near his property at Daylesford.

What did the Architects and Town Planners say? They told me bunkers – were such a knee jerk reaction. We need new building codes and building regulations for building in the bush.

Bushfire tragedy rewrites rules for architects – ABC News (Australian Broadcasting Corporation)

But at the same time, architects are starting to wonder whether any building could be safe in the sort of fires seen over the weekend.

We must avoid “knee-jerk” building: bushfire architect

Taking appropriate design measures might minimise the future damage from bushfires, but Victoria should avoid a “knee-jerk reaction” in rebuilding, Tim Whitefield, MD at the Collingwood-based practice Whitefield McQueen Irwin Alsop told Architecture & Design.

What did the politicians say? A bit of everything. Sometimes this sometimes that.

Bushfire management: where to from here – On Line Opinion – 13/2/2009

In the longer term I would hope for an honest admission that large, horrible bushfires are a consequence of failed policies, failed leadership and failed administration (at all levels), plus the fact that Australians still do not realise that the Australian bush is designed to burn. I have seen enough of politicians, academics and government agencies in my time to doubt any real admissions of failure will be made.

PM playing politics with Victoria bushfires disaster | The Australian

KEVIN Rudd has dragged politics into the Victorian bushfire disaster to put pressure on the Coalition to pass his politically charged $42 billion economic stimulus package.

What did the forrest department say? They said the environmentalists have caused this – by not lettig us do controlled burning. Or that we must control nature and not have pristine natural habitat. You would have seen Bob Brown on TV saying no – this is just a simplistic statement of the greens position. That they never advocated ‘do not touch the forrest’.
Greenies blamed for Victoria bushfires’ scale | The Australian

THE green movement was yesterday blamed for the severity of the Victorian fires that cost so many lives and ruined so much property.

And so it goes. Or in Vonnegut’s words – poo wee tweet.

This stuff I have reproduced below is the other fear that bunkers are not safe for they can be traps. And some have pointed to Dresden as an example- especially citing Vonnegut’s account where he says; “As the heat intensified, they either disintegrated into cinders or melted into a thick liquid–often three or four feet deep in spots.”. Well that is not a good example to cite. Dresden was a special case and not a fire storm at all. See the link below for the full story – or better still go out and buy Slaughterhouse Five.

The WWII Dresden Holocaust – ‘A Single Column Of Flame’

Others hiding below ground died. But they died painlessly–they simply glowed bright orange and blue in the darkness. As the heat intensified, they either disintegrated into cinders or melted into a thick liquid–often three or four feet deep in spots.

Shortly after 10:30 on the morning of February 14, the last raid swept over the city. American bombers pounded the rubble that had been Dresden for a steady 38 minutes. But this attack was not nearly as heavy as the first two.

However, what distinguished this raid was the cold-blooded ruthlessness with which it was carried out. U.S. Mustangs appeared low over the city, strafing anything that moved, including a column of rescue vehicles rushing to the city to evacuate survivors. One assault was aimed at the banks of the Elbe River, where refugees had huddled during the horrible night.

In the last year of the war, Dresden had become a hospital town. During the previous night’s massacre, heroic nurses had dragged thousands of crippled patients to the Elbe. The low-flying Mustangs machine-gunned those helpless patients, as well as thousands of old men, women and children who had escaped the city.

When the last plane left the sky, Dresden was a scorched ruin, its blackened streets filled with corpses. The city was spared no horror. A flock of vultures escaped from the zoo and fattened on the carnage. Rats swarmed over the piles of corpses.

A Swiss citizen described his visit to Dresden two weeks after the raid: “I could see torn-off arms and legs, mutilated torsos and heads which had been wrenched from their bodies and rolled away. In places the corpses were still lying so densely that I had to clear a path through them in order not to tread on arms and legs.”

Bushfire management: where to from here – On Line Opinion – 13/2/2009

To me, the most fundamental question is not whether we will have bushfires in the future. Of course we will. This is Australia, not the soft green hills of England. The real question is what sort of fires will we have.

Melbourne bushfire