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Australia: Preparation is key this fire season

It has been a horrific beginning to the fire season, with worldwide attention focusing on the severity, size and early nature of the bushfires affecting much of the eastern states.

With many months left to go this fire season, it’s not too late to develop and execute proactive risk management plans, even for those nursery businesses that may not be near typical high-risk areas.

Whilst production nurseries may not be able to influence significant risk factors such as weather or the gradient of the land, the amount of fuel available to burn is one area where nurseries can take immediate action.

Effectively managing any volatile fuels such as grass, fallen leaves and bark from around farm buildings will lower the intensity of the fire, should it occur.

To reduce fire fuel, ensure that you:

  • Clear gutters of overhanging trees and excess leaves
  • Establish firebreaks
  • Isolate potential fire sources such as incinerators and rubbish pits, chemicals and fuel stores
  • Assess your water supply and its accessibility

Well-designed landscaping around your nursery can also help reduce fire damage. Establishing and maintaining a green safety zone around a nursery can provide a barrier from fire intensity, wind speed and turbulence, catch flying embers and sparks and shield from radiant energy.

A few tips on how you can better establish an effective green safety zone, are:

  • Plant trees a sufficient distance away from buildings
  • Use smooth-barked trees and prune lower branches when mature to reduce overhang
  • Reduce fuel by maintaining gardens
  • Plant low flammability plants
  • Plant wind breaks

Machinery, vehicles and power tools can be ignition points for fires. Ensure that all staff are aware of this and are considerate about where equipment is stored, used and what conditions pose greater risk.

Planning is essential in managing fire threats in your nursery this season. Developing a plan that’s most suited your business will put actions in place to help you or staff make decisions should a fire threaten your nursery.

Risks that face each business will differ, so make sure your plan is up-to-date and outlines a set of actions to address them.

Access a fire season check list here and read about the best steps to take in developing a bushfire plan.

Every state has its own emergency fire service and are equipped with a lot of useful information, including planning guides. You can access yours via:

Source: Your Levy at Work

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