Protecting your horses from bushfire
LIVING IN A bushfire prone area means residents need to think ahead before the bushfire season begins.
This includes horse owners living in Warrandyte and surrounds.
On October 20, the South Warrandyte CFA held a Horses and Bushfire Information Session at the South Warrandyte Cricket Club.
Horse owners who attended were treated to a fascinating session about the myths and realities of dealing with horses in a bushfire situation.
The biggest takeaway from the session is how critical it is to prepare and have a plan for their safety before a fire happens.
Many believe horses panic in fires.
We quickly learned from Captain Sharon Merritt, Macclesfield CFA, this is not the case.
Horses are rarely stressed out by fire and can generally look after themselves if they have the right conditions.
Their natural instinct is to move as far from the fire as possible and then quickly seek burnt ground to survive.
If you have a horse in a bushfire prone area, it is imperative to have a designated safe place on your property.
Ideally this safe place would include a paddock that has been eaten out with enough room to gallop and minimal vegetation.
A large sand ménage without buildings or vegetation too close is also suitable.
Animals confined to stables or small yards may panic and hurt themselves trying to escape if the building catches fire.
Fences should be prepared so they can contain your horse even if a fire passes through.
Star pickets and a sight wire can be added to post and rail fencing.
A dam or water in a concrete tank or deep bath should be available so horses can seek relief from the heat and avoid dehydration after the fire has passed.
It is very likely you will not have access to your property for some time after a fire so access to shade and water can make a big difference.
Your property should have a Property Identification Code (PIC).
This is registered with the Department of Agriculture through the Department of Economic Development, Jobs, Transport and Resources (DEDJTR).
The code shows authorities horses are on your property and DEDJTR may be able to enter after the fire to check on their welfare.
If a Severe, Extreme or Code Red fire danger day is declared, move your horse into the designated safer paddock or area early.
Remove rugs and fly veils as these can burn and cause serious injuries.
If possible plait your horse’s tail polo style to keep it from catching fire.
Run through your plan and check everything is ready.
If your horse is not microchipped, put your phone number on your horse using spray paint or use event crayon so they can be identified.
If you have to move your horse
If your property is not safe for your horse to remain during a fire, have a plan to move them to a safer area if a Severe, Extreme or Code Red fire danger day is declared.
It is too late to move your horse if there is fire in the area and risks putting both you and your horse in danger.
Bushfires can travel fast, and traffic management points will be set up, closing roads.
Coming back for your horse during a fire is extremely dangerous.
Do not attempt to move horses that you are not responsible for.
The horse owner may have a fire plan in place and by interfering you could be putting the horse in danger, as well as yourself.
Check if you can move your horse to a neighbour’s property, the local racecourse, pony club or showgrounds.
You should check well in advance if these places are willing to take your horse and you may be required to stay with them.
Alternatively, talk to other horse owners and create a group plan.
If you agist your horse, talk to the agistment owner to find out what the bushfire plan is for their property.
If other horses will be using the same temporary safe area, ensure they are familiar with each other or can be kept safely apart.
After the fire has passed, it may be some time before you can check on your horse.
Check the area is safe, with no fallen power lines or trees likely to fall.
Watch for ash pits where tree roots have burned underground that can cause burns if stepped in.
Make sure fencing is intact and water sources are clean.
Move your horse from hot ground as soon as possible to avoid laminitis.
If you have done your prep work well, your horse is more likely to survive with minimal injuries.
Generally, horses that have been through a bushfire have some facial burns, swollen eyelids and hoof damage.
You might not be able to get a vet to your horse, so it can be useful to have some basic first aid at hand or a plan to get your horse to a vet.
Horses can do well in bushfires if their owners have a plan and prepare early, before a fire starts.
More information can be found at www.cfa.vic.gov.au/plan-prepare/horses-and-bushfires
The whys and wherefores of bylaws: Fire preparation and vegetation management
By SANDI MILLER
WITH SUMMER approaching it is time to consider preparing your property for fire season.
The Diary spoke with Manningham and Nillumbik Councils about how to clean up your property but stay within the rules around vegetation management.
Angelo Kourambas, Manningham’s Director City Planning and Community said:
“Council strongly recommends that anyone looking to remove vegetation or trees on their property should contact Council before commencing any removal works”.
Nillumbik Council’s, Senior Communications Officer of Governance and Legal Services, Natalie Town likewise encourages residents “to think carefully about tree and vegetation removal and to contact Planning Services on 9433 3343 before doing so”.
Mr Kourambas said that cleaning up properties should form part of your fire plan.
“In the lead up to bushfire season residents should ensure they have an emergency plan ready and prepare their properties accordingly,” he said.
The CFA website has all the information residents need to prepare their property.
Council is urging all residents to prepare their property now and maintain it throughout summer.
Managing vegetation on your property
Nillumbik, as the Green Wedge Shire, is known as the “lungs” of Melbourne.
“Our beautiful open spaces and natural treed environment, together with our friendly villages, add to the lifestyle of the Shire.
“While we like the environment surrounding us, bushfire safety is of paramount importance.
“Striking the right balance is essential,” Ms Town said.
Mr Kourambas said Manningham’s most valued features is the balance of city and country, with a range of urban areas surrounded by vast natural environment.
To protect this, he said residents are generally required to obtain a planning permit before vegetation can be removed.
Planning permits for vegetation removal are particularly important for residents living on a property with an: Environmental Significance Overlay (ESO), Vegetation Protection Overlay (VPO), Significant Landscape Overlay (SLO), or Heritage Overlay (HO).
There are some exemptions to allow vegetation removal around a resident’s home and along certain fences without obtaining a permit.
For instance, along the front fence, private landowners can use the exemption on their property but cannot remove vegetation from the roadside as they are not the property owner.
Landowners must check there are no covenants or other legal agreements which are not covered by the exemptions.
Reducing fire risk
Preparing your property all year round reduces the risk of stockpiled waste.
Fallen tree debris, grass, twigs and excess vegetation can dry out and become very flammable in the event of a bush or grass fire.
For this reason, both Councils recommend residents clear this kind of garden waste before the warm weather hits.
It is also important for residents to clear out their gutters frequently to ensure they’re free from leaves and sticks.
Having clean gutters may offer protection from an ember attack during a fire and greatly reduces risk of water entering a roof space during a storm.
For a detailed guide on landscaping for bushfire prone properties residents can view the CFA’s Landscaping for bushfire guide.
Abiding by the 10/30 or 10/50 rule
Following recommendations from the Victorian Bushfire Royal Commission, the Victorian Government has made a number of changes to the Victoria Planning Provisions regarding vegetation removal.
It provides certain exemptions that may allow you to remove vegetation to create a defendable space around buildings used for accommodation, including associated outbuildings and boundary fences, without the need to obtain a planning permit.
Depending on whether your property is covered by the Bushfire Management Overlay planning scheme or not, will determine what you can remove.
When preparing properties for bushfire and considering the removal of vegetation, residents should check which of the 10/30 or 10/50 exemptions apply.
You are covered by the 10/30 rule, if there is no Bushfire Management Overlay on property.
It means you may remove trees up to 10m, or vegetation up to 30m, around existing building without a permit.
If a Bushfire Management Overlay exists on property, it means you are covered by the 10/50.
You may therefore remove trees up to 10m, and vegetation up to 50m, around existing building without a permit.
Buildings must be used for accommodation and have existed before September 2009.
Landowners must check there are no covenants or other legal agreements which are not covered by the exemptions.
How to dispose of green waste
Each year Manningham Council offers residents the option of:
- Two household hard rubbish (waste) collections, or
- Two household bundled garden waste (branches) collections, or
- A combination of one hard rubbish (waste) collections and one bundled branches (garden waste) collection.
In addition to this, residents in bushfire prone areas are eligible for four complimentary green waste vouchers per year to help remove any excess garden waste from their properties.
In Nillumbik, residents can put their green waste in the 120-litre green waste bin which is collected weekly.
Residents can also deliver their green waste to Council’s Recycling and Recovery Centre at 290 Yan Yean Road, Yarrambat.
Property owners receive three green waste vouchers a year as part of their valuation and rates notice.
Property owners can pass these vouchers on to tenants to use.
Residents must bring their original or online rates notice to the Nillumbik Recycling and Recovery Centre.
Green waste vouchers provide flexibility to dispose of larger quantities of green waste at a convenient time.
One voucher is for one cubic metre of green waste, this a slightly heaped 6×4 sized trailer load.
Load size will be assessed by the attendant.
Green waste includes garden clippings, pruning, leaves and grass.
It must be clean and not contain processed wood such as treated pine, fence palings or untreated timber and must not include food waste.
For Manningham residents, green waste can be disposed of at the Manningham Garden Waste Centre at the corner of Websters and Blackburn Road, Templestowe.
The current and future voucher periods for 2019/20 are:
- Sunday, October 6, 2019 to Sunday, December 22, 2019
- Sunday, January 12, 2020 to Sunday, March 29, 2020
- Sunday, April 5, 2020 to Sunday, June 28, 2020
For more information, including maximum trailer load sizes, visit: manningham.vic.gov.au/garden-waste-vouchers
Property owners, landlords and property managers can order new or additional bins for a property.
In Nillumbik, each property can have up to two green waste bins.
There is an upfront cost of $80 for an extra green bin with no additional annual collection charge.
If a tenant wishes to select an alternative option for their bins, they need to contact their landlord or property manager.
Get it done
Inspections will soon be conducted across both municipalities by Municipal Fire Prevention Officers to identify properties that may constitute a fire hazard.
If the property is not well maintained the owner will receive a Fire Prevention Notice requiring them to undertake works.
It is an offence to fail to comply with a Fire Prevention Notice.
To protect your neighbours, owners of vacant land are required to maintain the vegetation on their property during bushfire season by:
- Removing any fallen and dead vegetation
- Removing any fine fuels (anything less than 6mm in diameter e.g. twigs)
- Creating separation between vegetation, buildings and fences by mowing and pruning vegetation.
If someone is concerned about a property with an excessive volume of fuel, they should contact Council.
Burning off in the open air is prohibited unless you have a valid permit issued by your Council.
In Manningham, residents who own, reside in, or manage a property greater in size than 2,500 square metres are eligible to apply for a permit to burn off green waste on their property.
Before applying for a permit to burn off green waste residents should know:
- It is illegal to burn off during the fire danger period without a special permit.
- Outside of the fire danger period it is illegal to burn off when the fire danger rating is very high or above.
Residents can apply for a permit via the Councils websites, either www.nillumbik.vic.gov.au or Manningham go to www.manningham.vic.gov.au/burning-off
In Nillumbik, burning off can occur from October 1 until the Fire Danger Period is declared by the CFA.
A permit is required to burn off in Nillumbik if your property is less than 1 acre (0.4 hectares) OR If you wish to burn off a large heap, a pile that occupies an area greater than 10 square metres or more than 25 cubic metres in volume.
If shade temperature exceeds 32 degrees Celsius or the wind speed exceeds 15kph, do not burn off.
It is the responsibility of the permit holder to check the fire danger rating before they intend to burn.
Any burn off must be registered with the Emergency Services Telecommunications Authority (ESTA) on 1800 668 511 prior to commencement.
Further conditions apply to all permits and will be provided on approval of a permit.
Residents must read and be aware of all conditions prior to open air burning.
Residents may also contact the CFA to burn off their property for them.
For additional information on burning off residents can visit the CFA’s website: cfa.vic.gov.au/plan- prepare/burning-off
Fire danger period
The Country Fire Authority is responsible for declaring the Fire Danger Period for each municipality at different times in the lead up to the fire season.
It depends on the amount of rain, grassland curing rate and other local conditions.
No fire danger period has been declared for Nillumbik yet but check with the CFA for updates.
Renters in fire prone areas
Whether a person owns their property or rents, it is just as important to know their risks and have an emergency plan.
In regard to clearing vegetation, renters must adhere to Council conditions in the same way a property owner must.
If a person renting has concerns about the state of vegetation on their property, they should contact their real estate agent or landlord to discuss the matter directly.
Meet the Brigade at the Research CFA Open Day
By JOHN HUF
RESEARCH Fire Brigade will open its doors to the public on Saturday, November 30, 2019 as part of the 2019 CFA Open Day program.
Brigade members will be on hand on the day with a range of fire safety information and advice.
Fire Brigade Captain Neville Stewart said CFA Open Days were the perfect opportunity for brigades to show the community what they do to keep everyone safe and to deliver valuable fire safety messages.
“It’s a fantastic opportunity for our local community to meet the men and women who work hard to keep them safe from fire and help out in times of emergency,” he said.
“Anyone interested in joining CFA, whether as a firefighter or in a support role is also welcome to come along for a look and a chat.”
CFA Chief Officer Steve Warrington said the open days are a great opportunity for people to find out how to best protect themselves, their family and property from fire this summer.
“A strong relationship between the community and emergency services is a crucial component in boosting community safety and greatly assists our members in their critical role of the protection of life and property.
“Now is the time to prepare your family and home in the lead up to summer and we’re here to help — members will be on hand to provide a range of fire safety information.”
Brigades throughout the state have opened their stations to their local communities as part of the CFA Open Day program since it started in 2011.
The day is an opportunity for all Victorians to learn more about what brigades do for the local community in a relaxed and friendly environment.
The Research Brigade Open Day will be held on Saturday, November 30 at the fire station in Research-Warrandyte Road from 10am to 12pm.
For information on this event and other events being held by brigades around Victoria, see cfa.vic.gov.au/whatson
“Are YOU Ready?” Bushfire Scenario
By DICK DAVIES
The Warrandyte Community Association’s ‘Be Ready Warrandyte’ campaign will be hosting a bushfire scenario on Wednesday, November 27, from 7:00-9:00pm at the North Warrandyte Family Centre in Research Road, and all Warrandyte residents are urged to attend.
The emphasis is on the “Are YOU Ready?” with special attention to new neighbours and pets.
Community Emergency Management leaders will be on hand to answer questions about school shutdown, police activity, potential road closures etc. and the Bendigo Bank will provide advice on insurance.
The focus will be on North Warrandyte and Warrandyte, with Emergency Management Risk assessment and updates and a realistic scenario.
The last two bushfire forums were information sessions at the Community Church which attracted about 250 people each time, but our feedback forms suggested that there was a perception that it was too Manningham oriented.
Consequently we are holding this one in the North Warrandyte Family Centre on Research Road.
It is however, a smaller venue and we plan to cater for an overflow in the North Warrandyte Fire Station with live projector and speaker feeds.
Parking is also limited so we advocate participants arrive early, car-share and utilise overflow parking in an adjacent paddock.
We plan to have a mini bus for those who don’t want to walk!
We urge everyone in the Warrandyte community to attend, especially new residents and those with pets.
“Are YOU Ready?”, Bushfire Scenario
Wednesday 27th November, 7:00–9:00pm
North Warrandyte Family Centre in Research Road.
Organised by the Warrandyte Community Association’s “Be Ready Warrandyte” campaign with the CFA, Nillumbik and Manningham Councils and local Emergency Services and supported by the Bendigo Bank Warrandyte Community Financial Services Limited.