Preparing for Fire 🔥 November 04 2018

Firstly, a disclaimer, I am in no way an expert of bushfires, or our horse’s behaviours in them, but the below is what I have noticed owning horses in a bushfire prone areas and these tips might just help.

 

Have a fire plan! I cannot stress this enough, but have a plan in place. As someone who is on agistment, I have two fire plans. One that the property has, and then one that I have. Generally agistment ones will cover everything you need, but you know your own horse and if he is likely to panic, load on the float easily etc. Ours is below as an example.

 

Zeus’ fire plan.

 

1. If the fire weather is forecast catastrophic and/or the ACT Government ask us to enact our bushfire plans and/or EPIC (Showgrounds) is opened for evacuations, we will take Zeus there as soon as possible, regardless of any active bushfires.
2. If there is a bushfire in the vicinity (within 20km) and the weather conditions indicate we could be in the path of the fire, we will evacuate Zeus to a safe place, preferably EPIC, or a friend’s property.
3. If there is a bushfire within 10km and it is safe to do so, we will attempt to evacuate Zeus to a safe property.
4. If it is not safe to evacuate Zeus, we will remove all rugs and gear and ensure he has identification markers on him.
5. If it is not safe to attend the property, or the fire has become too close for us to leave, we will take the lead of the owners of the property to make decisions they feel are best, being closest to the situation.

 

Get in touch with your local fire brigade, or local Facebook groups. We’re so lucky in Canberra to have this amazing community of equestrians. We have a Facebook group dedicated to equine emergencies, and the lovely people who run this regularly work with the local emergency services, and coordinate evacuations on the day. These groups have really helped me to keep up to date with what is going on, and how I can help. They have also provided fantastic advice also.

Quite a few of the local fire brigades will also hold sessions on large animal evacuations, so get in touch. If you are at a big agistment facility, see if they can come out and talk to you all, or perhaps organise a chat at your local adult riding club.

 

Get your horse loading well on the float! Zeus is not the biggest fan of the float by any stretch of the imagination. (Another blog post for another time), so we are trying to get him used to getting on the float quick smart. It’s well worth having a few fire drills, just to get them used to loading quickly! In the front of a fire, the last thing you want to find out is that your horse won’t load putting you both in danger.

 

Be prepared. During the midst of an emergency evacuation is not the time to be trying to find buckets, spare headstalls, feed etc. At the beginning of each fire season, get these items aside (in your float if you can) so once again you can just load your horse. As a minimum, you’ll need buckets for water, a basic first aid kit and a spare halter and lead rein. I make up my horses feeds in advance, so I can save time on the feed run after work, but also so I can just grab a bag and go.

 

Be realistic and ready for anything, including tough decisions Your plan is just that, a plan, and sometimes, things do not go to plan at all. Don’t risk your own life in the path of the fire if it all becomes too close. As you can see, step 5 in my fire plan is hope for the best. Fires move quickly, and I can’t risk my life, or the lives of my family to save Zeus. You can do everything you possibly can, but be aware of the conditions and ALWAYS take the advice of the emergency services in attendance, who are trained and know what is likely to happen.