17 Nov Be Aware – Have you prepared? Bush fire season is upon us

FACT: During bushfires, lives are most often lost when people make a last minute decision to flee their homes on foot or in a vehicle.

The Rural Fire Services/Emergency Services recommends if you are well PREPARED stay and defend your property, or LEAVE THE AREA EARLY in the day and well ahead of advancing fire front. For more information contact your LOCAL FIRE STATION/FIRE CONTROL CENTRE or visit: www.rfs.gov.au www.fire.nsw.gov.au or www.esa.act.gov.au

Deciding to Leave or Stay?

Everyone’s situation differs according to the size of their herd and property. That’s why each and every livestock/alpaca owner needs to develop an individual survival plan, coolly and calmly. If you are likely to panic, leave early, people who panic put themselves and others under unnecessary risks. The key to survival is forward planning and self reliance. Make your decision early.

Consider this:

  • your physical capabilities and those of family members and employees.
  • the location, aspect and accessibility of your property.
  • the amount, type and location of surrounding vegetation.
  • availability of water.
  • the condition and placement of building/s.
  • the number of stock you are carrying. Can you relocate them?
  • have a suitable “safe” area on the property where stock can be placed.
  • do you have a fire fighting pump and suitable hose equipment.

The Rural Fire Service recommends:

  • Reduce fire hazards, clear gutters, clear long dry grass, leaf litter, thick undergrowth, sticks from around your home.
  • Remove from around your home flammable items such as woodpile, paper, boxes and household/garden fuels such as petrol or paints.
  • Hazard reduction burn off (in the off season only) – with the permission of your RFS and their assistance.
  • Heavy duty hoses connected to taps that reach around your home/safe areas
  • Have an EVACUATION/RELOCATION PLAN ready – make sure everyone who lives, works, agists at your property understands the plan
  • Post your plan in a clearly visible place together with the telephone numbers of the local fire brigade and your local breeder’s phone numbers as well.
  • Clearly mark trails through your property in case the fire does approach, leave access gates open
  • FACT: NSW POLICE have authority to direct people to evacuate and will do so on the advice of fire authorities. However in time of extreme emergency you should not rely on Police or Firefighters to advise you what to do. Therefore your own evacuation/relocation plan is most important to have ready.

If GOING, consider these points:

  • WHO in the household should go? (We recommend that the elderly, young children and the infirm). WHEN should they go? (Early in the day and well ahead of fire entering the area)
  • WHERE should they go? (Arrange a meeting place a safe distance from the fire – it might be with a friend, relative, or at an official refuge)
  • WHAT should they take? (Have documents, valuables, medications and pets packed and ready to go)

If STAYING with your property consider these points:

  • Move livestock to allocated “safe”/ “home”, paddock early. This might be done the night before if for example there is a fire in your area or a high fire danger warning or total fire ban
  • Wear long sleeves (woollen jumper), long pants, hat made from natural fibres and sturdy footwear and leather gloves.
  • Have eye and breathing protection available for everyone
  • Turn off gas and power
  • Hose down externals walls, gardens etc before the fire arrives
  • Block downpipes and fill gutters with water
  • Bring hoses/fittings and other fire suppression tools inside, so they can be used later
  • Fill all sinks, baths etc with water to use on spot fires in case of power cuts
  • Close all doors and windows and block gaps with damp towels
  • Move flammable curtains and furniture away from windows
  • Shelter in a part of the house most distant from approaching fire front until fire has passed then actively put out spot fires
  • Keep a torch and portable AM/FM radio at hand to monitor weather in case power fails
  • Once fire front has passed, go outside to check for spot fires and ember attack
  • FACT: Research also indicates that a well prepared home is often the safest place to shelter from a fire front. Research also indicates that well protected and prepared able-bodied people who stay to protect their homes from ember attack and spot fires are often successful.


  • Contact your local RURAL FIRE SERVICES talk to them about your
    evacuation/relocation/staying plan. Undertake a bushfire course with them to help understand the nature of ‘fire’. Live with expectation that a fire will one-day threaten your property;
  • Plan equipment needs. Fire pump, suitable heavy duty hoses enough to protect your planned “safe”/”home” areas for yourself, home, shed and your livestock. Invest in a rainwater storage tank, sprinkler system. (Don’t be afraid to spend the money on the equipment). Talk to professional fire protection people.
  • Update your insurance to cover new equipment purchased;
  • Know how your equipment works
  • Have practice drills. This enables you to know how long it takes to move stock.
  • Speak to your neighbours/fellow breeders. Have an annual get together to discuss contingency plans;
  • Keep contact lists updated.
  • Post your plan in a visible area for everyone.(Include contact numbers)
  • Know how long it takes to move your animals to the allocated paddock/safe area. Have metal water troughs/buckets/containers ready filled with water for stock. Maintain by grazing, slashing, irrigating through the fire season. Have the perimeter of the paddock ploughed or graded to prevent the spread of fire into it. Ideally this area should be close to the home as possible so that it can be regularly monitored with its own dam/tank/sprinkler system.
  • Have a plan for early evacuation of alpacas to a safer district/breeder. Some suitable areas for evacuation are showground’s, sports ovals, sales yards, parks.
  • Inventory for your FIRE TOOL SAFETY KIT
    • Ladder long enough to reach the roof of buildings
    • Heavy duty hoses in suitable lengths to reach your home/safe areas
    • Rake/s, Shovel/s, Wire cutter/s, Sharp Knife, Metal buckets
    • First aid kit/s for human and animals
    • Woollen blankets and Towels
    • Fresh batteries
    • AM/FM battery operated radio
    • Torch/Insurance Papers/Important Documents
    • Chocolate (Just a thought)
    • Extra safety goggles/gloves/gear
    • Emergency telephone numbers of
      RFS/BREEDERS/NEIGHBOURS/SCHOOLS/VETS/HOSPITAL and any thing else you can think of.
    • DIAL 000 in case of an emergency.

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