Agriculture Victoria is issuing a timely reminder to farmers in north-east and east Gippsland to ensure they are prepared for the upcoming fire season.
CFA community liaison officer Allan Cracknell from the Bairnsdale Brigade offered practical advice for preparing properties for the fire season.
"There are practical steps people can take now to prepare for the fire season," Mr Cracknell said.
"You can make sure you have enough fuel on hand for vehicles and pumps, and ensure your property is clearly identified from the road with numbers that can be seen from both directions."
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To help prevent haystack fires, slash a five metre area around haystacks, and create multiple stacks in separate locations.
"That way, if a fire does start, you won't lose all your fodder," Mr Cracknell said.
One of the most important parts of fire preparedness is a clear evacuation plan.
"You need to know where you are going to go, have two evacuation points in case one is blocked, and note down who you will inform that you are leaving," Mr Cracknell said.
"And then do a trial run.
"Planning for a fire doesn't have to be intimidating or frightening, it's just simply saying here is my plan, this is what I am going to do."
Take stock of your assets before the fire season arrives
A good insurance policy is important when it comes to preparing for the fire season, but just as important is knowing exactly what you have on your farm and in your shed.
Insurance and risk adviser Michael Myers said spring is the perfect time to review your insurance policies, and part of this review is making sure you have a good asset inventory.
"An asset inventory doesn't have to be longwinded or difficult," Mr Myers said.
"It can be as simple as taking pictures or a video of your shed or house, so you have a clear record of your assets.
"Often when people experience theft, they know something is missing but they don't know what it is.
"It's the same with tools and equipment if your shed has burnt down. You won't even know something is missing until you go to use it again."
To help farmers prepare for the fire season, Agriculture Victoria is hosting Insuring Farm Assets, a free webinar to discuss the importance of asset inventories, getting farm fence insurance right, and insuring cattle and fodder reserves.
It will also explain the concept of "self-insured" and the implications for your business.
Mr Myers, who will be presenting at the webinar, said along with a current asset inventory, it's also important to have a clear understanding of the replacement value of the assets.
"Typically, most farmers will think about what it will cost to rebuild the fence themselves," he said.
"They will calculate the material costs but won't factor in labour costs.
"We try to tell them that if a fire does go through their property, the last thing they will have time for is fencing."
Mr Myers said spring is the perfect time to review insurance policies.
"Often people won't take the time to review their insurance," he said.
"They will pay it year after year, and they'll compare the price but they need to review the details to make sure they have adequate insurance.
"Farmers need to look at things like hay value, stock value and stock numbers to make sure they are accurate.
"Farmers should make sure they are not necessarily getting the cheapest insurance but getting the cover that is going to do what they expect it to do when it comes time to put in a claim."
The free Insuring Farm Assets webinar is on Tuesday, October 19 from 7.30-8.30pm.
Register online via the Agriculture Victoria website.
North East Agriculture recovery extension officer Paul Simpson on 0455 750 605 or firstname.lastname@example.org
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