We don’t need to tell you how devastating a bushfire can be, that’s why we want you to be as prepared as possible. A detailed bushfire action plan is vital as it will provide you with the tools to make informed decisions in a high-stress crisis situation and reduce the risk of serious injury, property damage and help protect your farm business.
Preparing Your Property Year Round:
Fire safety planning and preparation should be done throughout the year to reduce the fire risk to your farm and livelihood during the peak bushfire season. Below is a list of some of the things you can do year-round to protect your property.
- Prepare firebreaks.
- Make the house safe – fit wire screens and shutters and fill in gaps around the roof, verandah and underfloor. Repair any loose tiles or gaps in your roof; cover windows, crevices and vents with fine wire mesh or flywire; repair or fill nooks and crannies where leaves or embers could gather.
- Develop a 20m circle of safety to create a building protection zone around your home.
- Develop a suitable hazard separation zone around buildings.
- Reduce, remove and manage vegetation such as long grass within 20 metres of your home and 5 metres of any sheds and garages.
- Install a sprinkler system with metal fittings to wet down your home and garden to reduce the impact of radiant heat, sparks and embers.
- Provide an emergency water supply such as a dam, tanks, or swimming pool – don’t rely on mains water.
- Discuss fire prevention with your neighbours – is your locality safe? What can you do together to prepare?
- Plant lower flammability vegetation and a have well-managed garden – even well-maintained vegetable gardens can act as excellent fuel breaks.
- Protect your assets with adequate insurance.
Autumn & Winter (May-August)
- Prune trees – remove lower branches, check that power lines are clear.
- Reduce fuel levels around the house – clear long grass, leaves, twigs, flammable shrubs, and any dead vegetation. Check with your local council to see if a permit is required to burn off.
- Petrol & other fuels – store in a shed away from the house.
- Make sure your personal and home protection equipment is in good order.
- Overhaul the emergency water pump.
- Make sure everyone in the family knows what to do in the event of a fire.
- Move woodpile and stacked timber away from the house.
- Keep the grass short – slash or mow long grass, and keep grazing pasture pressure high on areas near the house.
- Prune dead material from trees and shrubs around the home.
- Clean out gutters, remove debris from the roof.
- Create firebreaks.
- Check and maintain all fire equipment and pumps.
- Prepare an emergency fire kit.
- Review, update and practise your Bushfire Survival Plan.
- Decide whether to stay or defend your property in the event of a fire or go early.
Summer (December Onwards)
- Water lawns, trees and shrubs near the house to keep them green.
- Re-check personal and home protection gear, screens, water supplies and gutters.
- Maintain a defendable space of up to 20 metres around your home and 5 metres from sheds and garages.
- Clear around trees.
- Keep removing leaves from gutters.
- Slash stubble near sheds and buildings (following regulations for Total Fire Ban Days).
- Check reserve water supplies.
- Practise your Bushfire Survival Plan with your family.
- Ensure you have a portable battery-powered radio and spare batteries to listen to bushfire warnings.
- Monitor Fire Danger Ratings.
Fingers crossed we won’t have to worry about any fires this fire season but remember, a well-prepared home and farm is more likely to survive a bushfire than one that hasn’t been prepared.
Information from Kondinin Groups Farming Ahead Magazine, CFS.sa.gov.au, and Department of Fire and Emergency Services Western Australia.