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Bushfire readiness starts now!

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Bullsbrook Volunteer Bushfire Brigade

Don’t wait until summer to start preparing your home and family for the bushfire season. Whether you own your property, are renting or also have a secondary property, it is crucial to begin property preparation NOW. A well-prepared property has a better chance of surviving a bushfire.

In October burning permits will be back — September is the time for that last minute, controlled burning of small piles. If you have larger areas you wish to burn contact your local Fire Brigade for assistance and guidance.

There are precautions you can take immediately that will help protect you and your property from bushfire:

· Discuss fire prevention and preparedness with your family and neighbours.
· Prune the dead material from shrubs and trees within at least a 20 metre radius of your home.
· Clean out gutters and remove debris from your roof.
· Install firebreaks in accordance with your local fire break notice.

Most homes lost in a bushfire are from ember attack — this is where burning embers carried by strong winds land on material that easily burns. Make sure you have a mesh guard on your air conditioner and block any gaps under floor spaces, in the roof and under eaves to keep sparks and embers out.

The Bullsbrook Volunteer Fire and Emergency Service (BVFES) is a team of over 50 local volunteers – you will see us training regularly to ensure we are ready to help you when you need us.
Bushfire season is approaching and promises to be a year of too much fuel based on the past two years being quiet bushfire seasons and a very wet winter.

In Bullsbrook, we are hoping to re-invigorate our community Bushfire Ready Groups who can help you be aware and ready for the coming fire season. Through these street groups you will get:

· SMS early warning messages of fire threats in our area.
· Monthly newsletters on what to do each month to be Bushfire Ready.
· Assistance and guidance on your own property and recommendations to make you safer.
If you would like more information on the groups, please call Shirley on 0400 091 057 or Adrian on 0407 705 566.

HORSES AND BUSHFIRE

Whether your horses are located at home or on an agistment property you must plan and prepare for their safety.

  • Horses need a large open space to avoid bushfires
  • Move your horses to a safer location before a Severe, Extreme or Code Red day
  • Remove all gear, including rugs
  • Seek treatment for burns quickly

Horses are quite good at avoiding bushfire if:

  • They have enough room to move freely and get a good gallop up in a large open space
  • There is minimal vegetation in the large open space

On Severe, Extreme or Code Red fire danger days, move your horses to a designated safer paddock or area. This may be:

  • A large eaten out paddock
  • A series of smaller eaten out paddocks with the internal gates left open
  • A large sand ménage, provided there are no buildings or vegetation close-by that could catch fire.

Ideally the paddock should have a dam in it where the horse can seek relief from the heat.

Do not lock your horses in a stable, holding yard or similar environment. The horse may panic and hurt themselves if confined. The building may also catch on fire.

Do not let your horses out on the roads as they will be in more danger from traffic and fire.

A horse’s natural instinct is to run from danger including bushfire and they will quickly move to burnt ground to survive.

You may wish to move your horse to a property that is not in a high-risk area on days of Severe, Extreme or Code-Red.

If your property isn’t safe

Move your horses to a safer location before a fire starts. Once a fire has started, it is unlikely you will be able to safely move your horses to another location. Bushfires can travel quickly and roads will be dangerous, or possibly closed.

Develop your plan to temporarily move your horses on Severe, Extreme or Code Red days to:

  • A neighbour or friend’s property that is better prepared than yours
  • Local showgrounds
  • Saleyards
  • Racetracks
  • Pony club grounds if they are better prepared than your own property

You will need to check that these places are open and willing to take horses prior to arriving. You may also be expected to stay with your horse in some places.

Arrange a group strategy with friends, other agistees or club members. If you agist your horses, find out what the bushfire plan is for the property.

Prepare your horses

On Severe, Extreme or Code Red fire danger days remove all gear, including rugs, from your horses. Some gear may melt or become very hot and cause serious burns, or get caught on fences. Also embers landing on rugs may cause the rug to catch on fire and the horse will not be able to get the rug off

Permanently identify your horses by microchipping or branding them. If your horse is difficult to catch, consider leaving a leather halter on with identification tags.

After the fire

  • Check the paddock for trees and limbs likely to fall.
  • Do not enter or have horses in paddocks with fallen power lines or damaged power poles.
  • Some tree roots may burn underground creating extremely hot pits that could cause burns if stepped in.
  • Getting horses off hot ground is important to prevent laminitis
  • Check that their water is not contaminated and that they have food
  • Check that fencing is safe

Horses tend to recover well after a fire. They may suffer facial burns and swollen eyelids. Seek appropriate treatment to restore them to full health quickly.

A horse suffering from burns requires prompt veterinary attention. Until the vet arrives, you can:

  • Sponge affected areas with cold water
  • If legs are affected, try standing your horse in a bucket of water
  • Any first-aid administered should be anti-inflammatory.

(Source Country Fire Service Victoria: https://www.cfa.vic.gov.au/plan-prepare/horses-and-bushfires/)