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About this training package

The Black Summer bushfires of 2019–20 affected farms across six states of Australia and had a significant impact on the agricultural community, with thousands of farms affected by significant losses of livestock. Bushfire is a major threat to rural livestock production and over the coming years in Australia, fire intensity, frequency and size are all predicted to increase.

In catastrophic fire conditions, leaving the farm may be the safest option for you. A bushfire may be more severe than you expect, as was experienced by many farmers during Black Summer. Fortunately, if it is safe to stay there are concrete steps you can take that are likely to help protect your livestock and farm as well as your own safety.

This training package provides the essential information you need as a livestock producer to prepare for and recover from bushfire. 

Compared with producers who are unprepared, those who have a farm fire plan and appropriate equipment and training lose fewer livestock or suffer less infrastructure damage and can get back to business sooner after a fire.

How to use this package and associated manual

The main objective of this package and its associated manual is to enable you to create a fire plan for your farm. The template at the back of the manual can be used to produce your own farm fire plan. This template is based on the Farm Fire Plan publication produced by the NSW Rural Fire Service (RFS), with additional information specific to beef cattle and sheep farms that is based on MLA funded research about the experiences of producers responding to and recovering from the Black Summer bushfires.

Whether or not you have experienced fire before, this package and the bushfire preparedness and recovery manual provide the fundamental information you need to prepare your farm fire plan. It also provides links to other sources from which you can gain a deeper understanding of bushfire preparedness and recovery.

Steps in farm fire preparation and recovery

Your farm fire preparation and recovery plan should include these steps:

  1. Prepare your property (e.g. reduce fuel, create an action plan).
  2. Discuss (leave or stay, action checklist as fire arrives, equipment).
  3. Know the conditions and bushfire alert levels.
  4. Keep up to date (fire authority apps and your own observations).
  5. Improve infrastructure to aid farm fire resilience.
  6. Ensure you have adequate insurance.
  7. Be self-sufficient (e.g. generator, food, medicines, communications, batteries).
  8. Plan emergency livestock management (e.g. refuge paddock, emergency veterinary assistance).
  9. Plan to recover after fire.

A word of advice

MLA and its research partners recommend this eLearning package and its companion manual to you and hope that you will use them to prepare for the next bushfire in your area. Being prepared for fire is not something you do once a year or just at the start of summer. The best way to prepare for fire is to do a reasonable amount of work regularly, throughout the year, every year. These resources aims to help you to achieve that.

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