ACT Emergency Services have already been called to several grass fires in the city in the last month. All that lush grass from our wet winter is now curing and will be turning into fire fuel over Summer!
Grass fires start quickly, spread rapidly and produce deadly radiant heat. We know from past experience that horse owners will place themselves at significant personal risk to rescue their animals in fire situations. Horse owners were the largest group of people suffering burns and injuries in the fires of 2003. We also lost 50 horses that year.
The ACT Equestrian Association wants to strongly encourage every horse owner to develop a Fire Plan for their horse this Summer – whether they are on their own property, on public or private agistment, in a paddock, a yard or a stable or being looked after by a friend over Christmas. That Plan might be to organise a safer place at existing agistment or involve evacuating their horse early from its present home to a safer place. Planning to have a plan is not a plan. Be in control this Summer.
In conjunction with the Emergency Services Agency the Association has developed tools, available at www.actea.asn.au, to help construct a Fire Plan to share with family, friends, neighbours, property owners and paddock mates.
Horse owners should make themselves aware of:-
- Three Day Fire Danger Rating Forecasts
- High wind forecasts
- Storm forecasts, especially electrical storms
- Total Fire Bans
- The existence and behaviour of fires in close proximity to their horse agistment
- Media broadcasts, especially ABC radio and local community radio stations for emergency information
They can access
- Three day fire danger rating forecasts at http://esa.act.gov.au
- A real time map of current fire incidents and their status at the ESA site http://esa.act.gov.au/community-information/incidents-map/
- ACT warning alerts on the Emergency Services Agency (ESA) website: http://esa.act.gov.au/community-information/bushfires/prepare-actsurvive/bushfire-warning-messages/. These alerts may also be announced on ACT radio stations.
- Fire updates from the Rural Fire Service through Facebook and Twitter http://esa.act.gov.au/communityinformation/bushfires/prepare-act-survive/bushfire-warning-messages/.
- The NSW Rural Fire Service Fires Near Me app which you can download to your iphone from www.firesnearme.com. It provides a live data feed on fires within 50k of your location.
If an agistment property has no safer area, or horses cannot be relocated early, then evacuation might be the only option. In the event of a bushfire emergency that threatens any of the ACT horse agistment areas the ACT, the Emergency Service Agency will publicly notify evacuation areas for owners and their animals to enable their removal ahead of such an event. Unless there is a major event at EPIC (eg Summernats), it will be the first evacuation option advised through ESA media messaging. Anyone taking their horses to evacuation centres will need to be self-sufficient and have bedding, food, medications etc. Horse may not be left unattended. Accommodation will only be permitted in 24 hour blocks. If EPIC is unavailable the ESA will advise alternative arrangements.
ACT Equestrian Association