When fire is days away
If you have time, install firebreaks. A firebreak is a strip of land that has been cleared of all combustible material (vegetation). It does two things:
- provides access for firefighting purposes
- helps prevent the spread of low-intensity
High-intensity fire flames can blow embers or reach across firebreaks, so do not rely on a firebreak to stop all fires.
Firebreaks can be maintained in the long term or can be installed in the days or weeks before a fire arrives as a measure to contain a bushfire or protect infrastructure. If installed at the last minute, take great care not to be caught in the open as the fire arrives, or you or your machinery could be burnt. If you haven’t got time (or you’re not sure if you have time), don’t attempt it.
To create a firebreak, remove all vegetation until bare earth is showing (so-called ‘mineral earth’). This can be done in many ways: with a grader, bulldozer or tractor with a bucket or other appropriate implement.
In addition, a tractor with a plough (e.g. disc plough) can achieve a similar result by turning vegetation under the soil. Longer- term firebreaks can be created by using herbicides to spray and kill all vegetation, or they can be installed permanently as roads.
Useful places to install a firebreak may include:
- on the perimeter of paddocks surrounding the house or sheds
- around your livestock refuge paddock
- along the flank of a fire to narrow and contain it.
The WA Department of Fire and Emergency Services has a good description of firebreaks and how to construct them.
Your fire plan will include an emergency feed budget, so you know how much feed you will require. If your property is burnt out, you will have no pasture for your livestock. Bushfire often happens when there is already drought, so local feed supplies may be short.
If you have time, attempt to source feed before the fire arrives. For other sudden fires with less warning, order feed as quickly as you can after the fire and pick it up/get it delivered when it is safe to do so. You may have access to local donated feed, but do not rely on this.
Move stock to refuge area and graze down
Ensure your stock are in their refuge paddock before the fire arrives. Do not do this at the last minute. Livestock can be unpredictable and the fire may move quickly, putting you in danger.
If you can, move your stock to a refuge paddock a day or two before fire arrives. This will give stock a chance to graze down the vegetation before the fire comes to reduce fire risk further. However, it is likely you will already have short grass so the feed will not last long and fire could threaten for some days or weeks. Supplementary feed may be required if the pasture is too short for the stock.
Stock in the refuge paddock need access to good quality water. Stock should not be off water for more than half a day during hot times.