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Wildfire Preparation

Fires can have a devastating impact on a farm. Whether it’s a small area fire or uncontrolled wildfire, flames can spread across vast tracts of land, posing serious threats to livestock in barns, pens, and pastures.

Wildfires can spread across forests, grasslands, and fields at an astonishing rate. Farms near wildlands/ grasslands or owners that have livestock near these natural areas should be prepared for wildfires and know the steps to minimize risks and losses.

Preparation

There are several proactive measures that can be completed in advance to prepare producers for a wildfire emergency including:

  • Have contact information for prearranged off-farm evacuation sites (lairage points) handy

  • Review wildfire history in area

  • Identify and maintain equipment that may help fight an approaching grassfire or wildfire (e.g., disk, harrow, tractor, water truck)

  • Good barn and field maintenance can reduce fire danger for horses and other livestock. Make sure barns and other structures are stable, promptly remove dead trees, clear away brush, and maintain a defensible space around structures

  • Reduce vegetation and wood debris within 10 to 30 meters of farm structures by thinning and pruning

  • Create firebreaks by clearing vegetation and exposing bare soil to help curb the movement of wildfire

  • Map the location of fire extinguishers, these should be in all barns, shops, and structures that have the potential to catch fire. Fire extinguishers should be easy to find within the structures, and all staff and family members should know where they are located and how to use them

  • Predetermine the location evacuation sites and routes that may be used for animal movement and have a map of the identified areas readily available for all staff, family and first responders

  • Store hay, straw, beddings/shaving outside the barn in a dry, covered area, if possible

  • Have water and feed readily available or at the pre-arranged lairage site(s) to ensure that all affected livestock have sufficient feed and water

  • Create a detailed inventory of livestock and developing list of emergency contacts prior to any wildfire event

  • If in a wildfire susceptible area, procure and install some type of irrigation/ sprinkler system to help suppress fire

  • Prepare an evacuation kit that includes but is not limited to:

    • Supply of feed, supplements, and water for 7 to 10 days

    • Blankets, halters, leads, water buckets, feed buckets

    • Copies of vaccination records, medical records, and proof of ownership

    • Tools

    • Cash and credit card

Response

In the lead up to and during a wildfire emergency, producers and animal owners will try to protect their farms and prevent losses. As you respond to the threat of wildfire consider the following:

  • Evacuate employees/visitors to an agreed safe meeting place as required

  • Know the phone number of your fire authority and notify them immediately

  • Assess the fire and only attempting to contain or extinguish a small fire if it can be done safely

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