Farm recovery after fire – Western Australia

Page last updated: Thursday, 6 May 2021 - 5:57pm

The Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development (DPIRD) provides this information to support managers and others suffering from the effects of fire on the farm.

Latest fire information

For the latest information, please visit the Department of Fire and Emergency Services website or the Emergency WA website.

Looking after people in fire affected areas

We recognise that talking with family, friends and your local community are very important after experiencing fire. After any major fire, there will also be local support and services developed, and we recommend using that support as early as possible.

Please look at the WA rural support services directory to choose ongoing support services that suit your situation.

Recovering after fire - services and support

Disaster Recovery Funding Arrangements

Visit the Disaster recovery funding arrangements Western Australia page for updated information.

Assistance is also available for individuals and families, small businesses and local governments. More information on these can be found on the Western Australian Department of the Premier and Cabinet website and on the Australian Government’s Disaster Assist website.

Recovery information

Safely entering your property after a bushfire

Your property is likely to be in a restricted access area – a designated area within an incident area – immediately after a fire.

Only an authorised person can enter a restricted access area for a period of time and for a specific purpose.

Residents, business owners, utility companies or other approved people can apply for a restricted access permit to:

  • activate their emergency plan
  • collect valuables and pets
  • transport various commodities, such as milk, water, stock feed and store supplies
  • tend to livestock
  • undertake other approved activities.

For more information about restricted access permits, visit the Department of Fire and Emergency Services website.

Hazards on your property after a bushfire

Houses, sheds and other buildings or structures that are burnt in a bushfire can leave potential health hazards, including asbestos, in the remaining rubble and ash.

The Department of Health supplies these guides:

Fire retardants used in in aerial firefighting of large wildfires

This information is derived from the Department of Fire and Emergency Services (DFES). The retardants used in large fires are not hazardous, but contaminated water and infrastructure should be flushed clean.

For full details, read Use of retardant during firefighting operations from DFES.

For more information about how fire retardants work, and the mixes used for different aerial applications see the PHOS-CHeK long-term retardants web page (external)

Fire retardants used in large fires are essentially fertilisers, and are often coloured with a red iron oxide ('rust') pigment to see where the retardant has been applied. The retardants are ammonium and diammonium sulphate and ammonium phosphate, mixed with water into a slurry and sprayed onto foliage from a helicopter or winged plane.

  • There is no evidence of significant effects of the sprayed retardant on birds or other land animals.
  • Some native plants may have low-level damage to fresh growth ('fertiliser burn').
  • Aquatic plants and animals are more sensitive to the chemicals used, and concentration in water bodies or waterways may cause deaths. If possible when fighting large fires, pilots try not to apply fire retardants within 100 metres of waterways.
  • The sprayed material is unlikely to cause skin or respiratory irritation, as it is adhered to foliage and other surfaces. Rain will remove the chemicals from foliage and move it into the soil, where it is used by plants and soil organisms.
  • If retardants enter a rainwater tank (from roofs with residue), we recommend emptying the contaminated tank, flushing it out with fresh water, and following the guidelines for 'first rains' in the rainwater tanks web page. The contaminated water will not be suitable for human or animal drinking, but can be discharged onto the garden or used for firefighting. Do not dispose of the contaminated tank water where it could enter creek lines or dams.

Managing animals

Movement

When moving sheep, cattle and goats out of the fire zone, owners should contact DPIRD's National Livestock Identification System (NLIS) helpdesks where staff will maintain the NLIS database to avoid a biosecurity emergency down the track. The helpdesks are there to assist you free-of-charge. Please contact them as soon as you can to provide the property addresses and stock numbers.

Livestock and feed

More information is available on our website:

Disposing of milk that cannot be delivered

Farm biosecurity

Fire creates a feed shortage for affected livestock. To resolve this, you may buy in or accept donated feed, or you may agist your animals on another property. Both of these actions pose a biosecurity risk of introducing pests, diseases and weeds to your animals and your property.

For more information, see the webpages:

Managing grapes and wine

Water supply and quality

Protecting your water supply from contamination after a fire is a high priority. Ash and soil from burnt paddocks and bushland can be blown or washed into rain tanks and farm dams, causing pollution and adding nutrients for bacteria and algae. Where there are concerns about contamination from retardants applied aerially in wildfire firefighting operations, first read Use of retardant during firefighting operations from DFES.

Fencing

Soils and pastures management

Recovery resources