Don't be in the line of fire - plan for the bushfire season
06 October 2016
Many areas of NSW are experiencing a bumper spring with recent heavy rainfall contributing to very high levels of plant growth. Now is the time to get serious about planning for the summer bushfire season as fuel loads will potentially be the highest seen in recent years.
Fires are extremely frightening and when the threat of fire is imminent it can be difficult to think clearly and make good decisions. Having a plan to follow can help you to prepare your home, family, pets, infrastructure and livestock well before a fire reaches your property.
A fire plan involves a number of steps, including:
- Identifying assets that need protection – buildings, machinery, fencing, yards, water tanks, pumps, bores, powerlines, livestock, crops, orchards and gardens.
- Identifying property fire risks – fire history, slope and aspect of the land, prevailing winds, volume of long grass, vegetation proximity to buildings, chemical storages and access to firefighting services.
- Minimising property fire risks – reduce fuel loads, create firebreaks, create clear areas around assets, grazing paddocks and maintaining lawns can also provide firebreaks.
- Making plans for livestock and pets in the event of fire.
- Ensuring you are prepared if a bushfire threatens – protective clothing and is your home defendable and how will you know when to leave? Personal safety should be the first priority in all situations.
Local Land Services recommends livestock owners have a livestock plan that can be implemented if fire threatens their property. It is important this information is communicated with family members and employees to ensure they understand what measures need to be taken when moving stock if fire comes over the hill.
When planning, determine the most appropriate or low risk areas to move stock to give them the greatest chance of survival. Local knowledge of the terrain, the most likely direction of fire threat, accessibility, prevailing wind direction and the location in relation to timbered areas should be considered.
These low risk areas could include, but would not be limited to:
- Bared out paddocks – paddocks that have been heavily grazed during spring or early summer.
- Irrigated paddocks or green summer crops – will not burn as readily as dry feed.
- Yards – a low risk option but do consider if any nearby trees pose a threat.
- For horses a sand yard can be used, provided trees or buildings are at a distance.
Once low risk areas have been selected ensure they remain prepared and available.
The behaviour of livestock is something that must be considered in terms of priority livestock movement. Fencing can be an impediment, so boundary fences, especially those onto roads should not be cut to enable stock to move or be moved.
As soon as you become aware of a fire in your area put your bushfire plan into action.
The Rural Fire Service works extensively with the public to communicate bushfire preparedness and the need to implement a plan in the event of bushfire.
Media contact: Mark McGaw, 02 4842 1911