Essential tips for farmers in pre-fire season

ACTIVITY

Fire is a problem in most summers in Australia and New Zealand, but particularly so after good seasons where spring rains have produced abundant growth and in very hot dry summers where the vegetation becomes tinder dry.

Here are some essential steps for farmers and small landholders in pre-fire season.

Planning

Have a routine in place for fire risk days and make sure everyone on the property is aware of it.

Know your trigger to leave early on fire risk days as well as the trigger for family, contractors, or employees to leave the property.  

Don’t forget to plan for contingencies such as what to arrange if the kids are at school.

Fuel Loads and Stocks

Fuel is any combustible material, such as hay, feed, fertilizer or dry grass or brush. Fires cannot burn where there is no fuel. It is important to make sure there is an area of reduced fuel around houses, sheds and other assets thereby minimising the threat of fire. Leaves, twigs, grass and bark burn quickly.

Create a heavily grazed area where stock can be moved on fire risk days or during a bushfire and maintain slashed or mown fuel breaks to a width of at least three metres.

Conduct a stock take of feed, animals and fencing before the fire season and keep a copy of records off your property.

Permits and Laws

Check with  your council if local laws are in place for lighting fires, burning off, or using incinerators.

Apply for a schedule 13 permit from your local council if you intend to burn off weeds, stubble or vegetation during the FDP, or a schedule 14 permit If you intend to use fire for other purposes.

Vehicles, Equipment and Hay

Check that spark arrestors on machinery are working and efficient. Do a safety check on  chainsaws to ensure they are free from faults.

Have water fire extinguishers available that can be carried by any person using farm equipment or machinery.

Make sure hay is fully cured before bailing.

Make sure there are no gaps between the cladding and the ground or slab of your sheds to prevent embers getting inside.

Access for Firefighters

Make sure your property number is clearly visible so emergency services can identify when approaching the entrance.

Check access tracks around your property. Clear vegetation and sign-posting if necessary.

Recovery

Have contact details of your local council as a first point of call for recovery assistance after a fire.

You can find more information on preparing for fires at the following locations: