Bushfires and grassfires are a fact of life for those in many rural and regional areas of Australia.
Traditionally a summer event, the experience of recent years indicates that the bushfire season is starting earlier, so preparing well ahead of summer is key, says ARGIS farm underwriting manager Peter Morsley.
“We are seeing that the bushfire season is starting earlier and lasting longer. We've also seen that once fires are up and going, there's limited opportunity to do much, the fires can move so quickly that you just won’t have a chance to make preparations when it’s already upon you,” he says. “Your best chance of defending your property starts now.”
Key considerations when preparing for fire season
Mr Morsley says that while farm insurance can replace assets, it can’t replace lives, so the most important thing farmers can do is to have a bushfire plan in place to ensure the safety of themselves and their family members.
“If they think that in the event of a fire they’ll want to defend their property, they’ll need a plan in place to help do it safely,” he adds.
In terms of property and land readiness, he suggests grass should be kept short by mowing or slashing to reduce fuel load, and that areas around the home and farm buildings should be kept clear to maintain a defendable space.
“Trees and branches surrounding power lines should be kept trimmed and flammable materials should be stored away from buildings housing high value assets,” Mr Morsley adds.
Farmers should also ensure that fire suppression equipment, such as fire extinguishers, are well maintained. Farm machinery should also be well maintained, to prevent the risk of sparking, and it’s important to use common sense around operating machinery on hot or windy days, even if they’ve not been designated as total fire ban days.
“Another question we ask is what plan farmers have to move livestock in the event that their property is under attack from fire. It might be that they've got multiple properties or a large enough property that they can move animals safely to avoid the threat of fire,” he says.
“Finally, we also recommend that farmers refer to information available online from their local rural fire authority, for advice specific to their local area.”
The climatic outlook and fire risk
With the Bureau of Meteorology forecasting a wetter than usual spring for eastern Australia and a dry outlook for the West, Mr Morsley says that while it’s important for farmers to be aware of climatic conditions in their local area, they can’t rely on the weather to minimise their fire risk.
“In some parts of Australia we’ve had increased rainfall in recent months but that doesn't necessarily mean that farmers can relax when it comes to bushfire and grassfire risk. That rain leads to vegetation growth and once that dries out in the hotter months it can add to the fire load,” he says.
“In other areas there’s been below average rainfall and it’s still very dry. While the forecast for summer is not yet known, I think we all need to be very aware that despite the weather, the risk for substantial fires is always very real. Every year we have to prepare for the worst and we need to start doing it early.”
Here to help
For more information about early fire preparations, or for general enquiries about farm insurance, you can contact the ARGIS team or call us on 1300 794 364.
The information contained above is intended for insurance intermediaries only.
SGUAS Pty Ltd t/as ARGIS Insurance (ABN 15 096 726 895, AFSL 234437) acts under a binding authority as agent for the insurer, HDI Global Specialty SE- Australia (ABN 58 129 395 544, AFSL 458776).
The above information is general advice only and has been prepared without taking into account your client’s objectives, financial situation or needs. Your client should consider these, having regard to the appropriateness of this advice and the relevant Product Disclosure Statement, available by calling us on 1300 794 364 or downloading it from this website, before deciding to acquire, or to continue to hold, this product.