2019 bushfire season: are you ready?
The upcoming bushfire season is predicted to be one of the worst on record, with hot, dry conditions across the State.
Given the higher than normal potential for bushfires, it’s important that animal livestock owners adequately plan how they will keep their animals safe this bushfire season.
The Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development (DPIRD) website contains a range of information on practical ways you can prepare for animal welfare before emergencies, such as bushfires, some of which is outlined below.
Start preparing now
Maintaining firebreaks and managing fuel loads on your property is vital, but these actions shouldn’t be your only bushfire preparations. It’s important that you prepare specifically for the safety of your animals, including livestock, horses and companion animals during a fire.
- Develop an emergency plan that covers the major hazards that could impact on your family, animals, and property. Your plan should include notes about:
- What your triggers are for evacuation or moving livestock to safer areas (e.g. high risk days, emergency alerts).
- Which animals to evacuate, and for those unable to be evacuated, how they will best be managed and sheltered to ensure their safety and survival.
- Evacuation routes from your property.
- Transport options for large and small animals.
- Options for agisting or boarding animals, and
- How you will maintain containment (e.g. fencing) and provision of food, water and shelter for your animals after a bushfire has passed.
Even if you don’t write out a plan, make sure you and members of your household/staff have a 5 minute chat about your plan during an emergency- you may not always be at your property or accessible when an emergency strikes, so it’s important other people know your plan.
- Prepare your property for emergencies:
- Ensure access to large volumes of water, in case of fire. Know that mains-supplied services may be unavailable in, or immediately following, an emergency.
- Purchase emergency fodder and food supplies and store them in a safe place.
- Install internal gates to move livestock quickly between paddocks.
- Install sprinkler systems in pig and poultry sheds.
- Mark gates, food and water locations on a map of your property, and ensure the map is located in an easy to find place, in case somebody else has to move your animals, and
- Remove rugs and synthetic halters from horses on high fire-risk days, as these can often burn or melt.
- In an emergency situation it’s important that livestock and companion animals can be identified in case they become lost. To be best prepared:
- Ensure microchip details for companion animals and horses are up-to-date, and
- Ensure your NLIS and PIC details, and insurance records, are up-to-date and kept where you can quickly find them.
How DPIRD is preparing
DPIRD supports local government to provide animal welfare services during major emergencies. These services, outlined in the State Support Plan: Animal Welfare in Emergencies (Interim), help livestock and animal owners appropriately care for their animals during an emergency.
DPIRD’s Emergency Management and Animal Welfare teams recently tested their readiness for the upcoming bushfire season by participating in Exercise EQUUS with representatives from:
- Department of Fire and Emergency Services (DFES)
- WA Police Force
- Department of Biodiversity, Conservation and Attractions (DBCA)
- Department of Communities
- The WA Local Government Association (WALGA)
- State Emergency Management Committee (SEMC)
- Australian Veterinary Association
- Shire of Serpentine Jarrahdale
- WA Horse Council
The Exercise involved working through a number of possible bushfire scenarios in a semi-rural setting, such as the Perth Hills.
The scenarios focused on incidents involving animals, such as animals blocking evacuation routes and evacuation of wildlife parks, to enable all key organisations to understand their role in keeping animals safe during a bushfire.
For more information about bushfire plans for your local area, contact your local government.