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Farm Fire Fighting Equipment – Elevate individual safety on farms

by Ken
A Guide to Using Private farm fire fighting units at Fires

This article is a guide to using private farm fire fighting equipment at fires in Australia. In 2001 a firefighter was killed in Victoria as a result of a farmer using a tractor and plough at a fire. This should have never happened and as a result, changed the way private firefighting equipment operate at the fire in Victoria Australia.

farm fire safety

This article is a partial guide, and many other factors determine how firefighters and private equipment can work together safely.

Understanding the Principles

Behind the tangible tools and machinery that constitute farm fire fighting equipment, lie the principles that guide their effective use. These principles are not mere suggestions but proven strategies that can significantly impact the outcomes during fire emergencies. Let’s delve into these principles, understand their essence, and recognize how they synergize with the physical tools to create a robust defence against fires.


In the vast terrains of Australia, where farms can span hundreds of acres, no single entity can manage a fire outbreak alone. Cooperation is the bedrock upon which successful firefighting rests. By cooperating, farms can pool resources, share intelligence, and ensure that assistance is available when and where it’s needed the most. This collaborative approach not only maximizes the efficacy of the farm fire fighting equipment but also fosters a sense of community resilience.

  • Local firefighting forces: Their expertise and resources can be invaluable during large outbreaks.
  • Neighbouring farms: Sharing water sources, machinery, and manpower can make a significant difference in response times and firefighting capacity.

Assessing Risks and Avoiding Hazards

Before any action is taken, understanding the environment and the potential risks it holds is paramount. This assessment provides insights into how the fire might spread, which areas need immediate attention, and which areas can be used as safe zones. With the right farm fire fighting equipment, hazard assessment helps prioritize efforts and ensures that resources are used optimally. It’s not always about fighting the fire head-on but sometimes about strategically redirecting it or creating barriers.

  • Wind direction and speed: These can determine the fire’s trajectory and spread rate.
  • Natural barriers: Identifying rivers, ponds, or rocky terrains that can act as firebreaks.

Taking Responsibility and Understanding Limits

Ownership doesn’t end with acquiring the best farm fire fighting equipment. It extends to maintaining it, ensuring its readiness, and training oneself and the team to use it effectively. But equally important is the understanding of one’s limits. Fires can be unpredictable, and conditions can change rapidly. Recognising when to engage and when to call for additional help or retreat can mean the difference between a contained situation and a calamity.

  • Regular equipment checks: Ensuring all tools are in optimal condition and ready for use.
  • Training sessions: Regular drills and training to keep the team prepared and aware of protocols.

Safety on the fire ground

One should make a plan to engage in firefighting before a fire outbreak. Make all necessary preparations before deployment. It is usual for private firefighters to get to the site before the local brigade. Fire services appreciate these; they might have even been able to put them under control. But the primary priority of firefighters is the safety on-site, therefore:

  1. Do not work alone.
  2. Take responsibility for your own.
  3. Be aware of the situation around you.
  4. Put on all safety gear, especially when handling special machines.
  5. Work under your limits and ability.
  6. Make sure your equipment is well maintained.
  7. Ensure the work you undertake is equal to your knowledge and that of your machine.
  8. Communicate.


A Guide to Using Private farm fire fighting units at Fires 01

Directions for using farm fire fighting equipment at Fires

Individual Preparation:

  1. Be physically and mentally ready
  2. You must be aware of the risks involved.
  3. You must have enough knowledge and skills.
  4. Dress in proper protective clothes.
  5. Be prepared to accept the outcome of your actions.

Equipment preparation:

  1. Ensure the car is not overloaded.
  2. Make sure fittings and loads are secured
  3. Make sure the equipment is mechanically reliable and sound.
  4. Have all the recommended Safety communications and equipment.

Taking Responsibility: A Deeper Dive

Maintaining Equipment Reliability

It’s not just about having the right tools, but also ensuring they’re in optimal working condition. Regular maintenance of your farm fire fighting equipment is a non-negotiable task. By regularly checking hoses for leaks, ensuring pumps are functioning efficiently, and cleaning nozzles for unobstructed water flow, farm owners demonstrate not only a commitment to safety but also to efficiency. Remember, a malfunctioning piece of equipment can be the difference between controlling a blaze and witnessing its uncontrollable spread.

Training and Regular Drills

Having top-notch farm fire fighting equipment is only half the battle. Equally important is knowing how to use it effectively. Conducting regular training sessions for everyone on the farm ensures that everyone is familiar with the equipment and knows how to operate it in case of emergencies. It’s not just about turning on a hose; it’s about understanding water sources, knowing how to create firebreaks, and coordinating with others on the farm.

  • Mock Drills: Simulating a fire scenario and practicing the response can help in identifying weak spots in the action plan and rectifying them.
  • Expert Sessions: Inviting local fire authorities to guide and train the farm crew can provide invaluable insights and techniques that might not be commonly known.

Be known that you are present.

When firefighting, it is essential to follow appropriate procedures. Well defined tasks may save the day. But, when the fire department is present, they are responsible for the safety of all persons at the site. And will take control of all significant decisions and advice on how to complete activities. If you are working for an agency, make sure they know of your presence, you must also cooperate and understand where your team members are if you arrive before the brigade. Such legislated responsibility and those private owners who don’t cooperate may find Police members taking action against them.

The Bushfire (My Australian Story)


The Cornerstone of Effective Farm Firefighting: Cooperation

Unified Forces: The Essence of Cooperation

In the realm of farm firefighting, cooperation goes beyond mere teamwork. When individual farm owners band together, their collective resources, knowledge, and efforts can significantly amplify their firefighting capabilities. This joint venture becomes even more potent when private farm owners align with local firefighting forces. By doing so, they gain access to advanced farm fire fighting equipment and expert training that can make a massive difference during emergencies. Pooling resources, sharing knowledge of the terrain, and drawing from past experiences can turn an isolated response into a well-coordinated defense against the raging flames.

  • Building a network of immediate responders: Neighbouring farms can quickly come to each other’s aid, reducing response times significantly.
  • Enhanced resource allocation: Sharing farm fire fighting equipment ensures that areas facing a higher threat level can be given priority.
  • Streamlining efforts: With everyone on the same page, there’s a reduced risk of counterproductive efforts, ensuring efficient firefighting.

Strengthening Bonds for a Resilient Future

Australia’s unique challenges, especially concerning bushfires, underscore the importance of a united front. Farm owners must recognize that fires don’t respect boundaries. A blaze that starts on one property can quickly spread, endangering multiple farms. This interconnected risk makes cooperation not just beneficial but essential. Building trust, holding joint firefighting drills, and ensuring transparent communication can solidify these alliances. Such concerted efforts ensure that when fires do break out, the collective force of cooperating farms, armed with the best farm fire fighting equipment, stands ready to combat the threat. The unity forged in the crucible of adversity paves the way for a resilient farming community, better prepared for future challenges.

We are working with others.

By firefighters and private owners working together, the work will be more comfortable and safer. You can help one another to avoid or overcome:

  1. Falling objects, hot surfaces, flames, sharp items, mines, and mine shaft
  2. High noise levels for long periods.
  3. Poor vision caused by smoke.
  4. Communication will also be more straightforward.


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Delving Deeper into Fire Safety: Assessing Risks and Avoiding Hazards

The Art of Risk Assessment

Risk assessment is not merely an activity but an art. A comprehensive risk assessment focuses on identifying potential fire hazards, areas of vulnerability, and sources that can fuel a fire. With Australia’s diverse topography and changing climatic conditions, farms often face varied risks. From dry vegetation that can quickly catch fire to stored chemicals that can explode under certain conditions, the dangers are manifold. Utilizing farm fire fighting equipment effectively begins with understanding these risks. By meticulously mapping out danger zones, farm owners can strategically place their equipment, ensuring that, when a fire does break out, the response is swift and decisive.

  • Regular audits: Periodic assessments of the farm to identify any new risks or changes in existing ones.
  • Documentation: Maintaining detailed records of potential hazard zones, which can be quickly referenced during emergencies.
  • Weather Monitoring: Keeping an eye on weather forecasts, especially during fire seasons, as certain conditions can exacerbate fire risks.

Steering Clear of Hazards

Avoiding hazards goes hand in hand with risk assessment. Once potential threats are identified, the next logical step is to implement preventive measures. This might involve clearing dry vegetation regularly, ensuring that chemicals are stored safely, or even creating firebreaks using farm machinery. Investing in top-quality farm fire fighting equipment is only part of the solution. The equipment’s efficacy is vastly enhanced when coupled with proactive measures that diminish the chances of a fire breaking out. Moreover, training farm personnel to recognize and report potential hazards ensures that the entire team is vigilant, further fortifying the farm’s defenses against fires. Implementing safety protocols, like designating no-smoking zones or ensuring machinery is free from oil leaks, can drastically reduce the risk of accidental fires.

  • Regular Training: Ensuring that farm personnel are trained in recognizing and mitigating fire hazards.
  • Proactive Measures: Actions like creating firebreaks or clearing dry vegetation to diminish fire risks.
  • Equipment Maintenance: Regular checks and maintenance of machinery to prevent accidental fires due to malfunctions or leaks.

Understanding Your Limits in Farm Fire Fighting

The Essence of Recognising Boundaries

In the heat of the moment, quite literally, it might seem commendable to push oneself beyond the brink to protect one’s land and livestock. However, this could lead to catastrophic consequences. Recognising personal and equipment boundaries when using farm fire fighting equipment is crucial. By understanding when to step back or call for reinforcements, farm owners not only protect their assets but also their lives.

Indicators to Assess Overextension

Several tell-tale signs can help determine if one is stretching beyond their limits. It’s essential to be aware of these indicators and act upon them timely. Here are some essential markers to keep in mind:

  • Physical Exhaustion: Fatigue can impair judgement and slow down response times, jeopardising both personal safety and the efficacy of the farm fire fighting equipment.
  • Equipment Overheating: Just like humans, machinery too has its limits. If equipment starts to show signs of overheating or malfunction, it’s a clear indicator to retreat and reassess.
  • Smoke Density: A rapid increase in smoke density can reduce visibility and respiratory function, making it nearly impossible to combat the fire effectively.
  • Changing Wind Patterns: Sudden shifts in wind direction can cause fires to spread unpredictably. If caught off-guard, this can lead to dire situations.

Understanding when to take a step back can sometimes be the most courageous decision. Recognising personal and equipment limitations ensures the longevity of both. While every farm owner wants to protect their land passionately, it’s essential to remember that safety should never be compromised.

The equipment

No equipment operator is above the law or exempt from it. When working in the firefighting industry, compliance with all laws, including traffic laws, is paramount. Secondly, if you will have to use any farm fire fighting equipment at sight, you should make sure:

  1. Your safety and that of any person’s presence is protected.
  2. The machine is capable and suitable for the task in a hostile environment.
  3. The equipment is reliable.


Vehicles for wet fire fighting

Vehicles should not be overloaded, as this is a big security issue. An overloaded vehicle will be harder to steer, have the less braking ability, and be unstable.

This vehicle should also:

  1. Have suitable communication devices –The vehicle should have a good quality UHF band radio or other suitable communication devices.
  2. Provide a first aid kit and also an excellent woollen blanket for personal protection.
  3. Have registration and roadworthiness to operate on public roads.
  4. The vehicle must have a pump, and both the car and the pump should be in excellent mechanical condition.

The criteria for vehicles for wet fighting applies here too, the safety of drivers is essential. They should also work on their limits when fighting a direct running fire. Operating very close to other larger firefighting vehicles is unacceptable.

Movement is discouraged when operating and should commence only when the driver is in a fully enclosed cabin. Tasks should be well considered because of their reduced stability, mobility, and maneuverability. No persons should ride on trailer units.

Farm machinery and implements/ Heavy plant and equipment

These machines always use dry firefighting tactics such as slashing, ripping, ploughing, harrowing, grading, etc. The standard rules for using personal equipment also apply here, but in places where a private individual is operating the heavy plant, notification fo the authorities.



The functions of private equipment operators may change according to the equipment needed, the physical effort required, the risk involved, and hazards present, but primarily they include:

  1. The first attack on the fire.
  2. Support – giving support for parallel and direct attacks
  3. Patrolling and blacking out operations.

h2>Enhancing Communication in Farm Fire Fighting

Modern Tools and Technologies

In today’s age, relying solely on traditional means of communication during a farm fire can lead to missed opportunities and slower response times. Modern farm fire fighting equipment often includes sophisticated communication tools designed to bridge the gap between teams, providing real-time updates and facilitating quick decision-making. Tools such as:

  • Digital Radios: Unlike the analog ones, digital radios offer clearer communication, especially over long distances.
  • Satellite Phones: In areas where mobile networks may be unreliable, satellite phones ensure that you’re always connected.
  • Drones: These provide aerial views of the fire, assisting in planning and strategy development from a safe distance.

The Role of Communication Protocols

Effective communication isn’t just about having the right tools; it’s also about ensuring that everyone is on the same page. Setting up communication protocols is crucial in ensuring that messages are not just sent but also understood. Such protocols can include predefined codes for specific situations, ensuring that lengthy explanations are avoided in high-pressure scenarios. Furthermore, having regular drills and training sessions where these protocols are practiced can make a significant difference during an actual fire. This ensures that even in the midst of chaos, the team can operate seamlessly, making the most of their farm fire fighting equipment.

In the complex and ever-evolving landscape of farm fire fighting, the role of clear and effective communication cannot be understated. Whether it’s through the use of cutting-edge tools or established protocols, ensuring that all team members are well-connected is essential to tackle the unpredictable nature of fires and safeguard our precious lands.

Traffic Management in Farm Fire Fighting

Significance of Streamlined Traffic Flow

In the face of a raging fire, the seamless movement of farm fire fighting equipment becomes non-negotiable. Delays in reaching the affected areas can result in escalating the fire’s impact, causing extensive damage to property and risking lives. Efficient traffic management is more than just about clear pathways. It’s about:

  • Having designated routes for the farm fire fighting equipment to avoid any cross-traffic.
  • Ensuring that these pathways are free from obstructions, be it stationary farm equipment or fallen trees.
  • Regular drills to practice quick and coordinated movement, simulating real emergency scenarios.

Coordination with External Traffic Sources

When a fire alarm is raised, external help in the form of local fire brigades or volunteers is often required. However, unfamiliarity with the farm’s layout can lead to confusion, hindering their effectiveness. This underscores the importance of:

  • Clear signage to guide these external entities towards the hotspots without any delay.
  • A centralized communication hub, updating them about any changes in routes or the fire’s progression.
  • Designating specific zones for farm fire fighting equipment parking, ensuring they are easily accessible yet don’t hamper the overall movement.

It’s evident that traffic management, while often overlooked, plays a pivotal role in the effectiveness of farm fire fighting strategies. Proper coordination ensures not just quicker response times but also maximizes the effectiveness of every piece of equipment and personnel involved.

Equipment Control Point Access.

If you bring personal firefighting equipment, then, in Victoria, Australia, a sticker must be issued to eligible vehicles, which meet the standards discussed above and those of your locality. Make sure to apply for the label before the fire season.

Slip-On Units for Fire Fighting

Functionality and Versatility

Slip-on units are often heralded as the Swiss Army knives within the realm of farm fire fighting equipment. Compact yet robust, these units are designed to be easily mounted onto the back of a utility vehicle, turning it into an instant fire fighting machine. Such design promotes:

  • Quick response times due to easy setup.
  • Flexibility in reaching areas larger trucks may find inaccessible.
  • Efficiency in resource use, with tanks designed for maximum water storage relative to their size.

Moreover, the versatility extends beyond just combating fires. These units can be utilised for other farm activities such as water transportation, irrigation, or even cleaning tasks, enhancing their value proposition for farmers.

Cost-Effectiveness and Maintenance

Investing in slip-on units can prove to be a cost-effective strategy for those in need of farm fire fighting equipment but are on a tighter budget. Compared to the more massive, specialised fire trucks, these units are more affordable and still offer commendable performance. Furthermore, maintenance of slip-on units is straightforward. With fewer intricate parts, routine checks and minor repairs can often be handled by the farm’s regular maintenance team, ensuring that the unit remains in prime condition without incurring hefty servicing fees.

Dangers of Slip-On Units

Overloading and Imbalance

While slip-on units for fire fighting offer numerous advantages, they come with their set of challenges. One primary concern is overloading. When the water tanks are filled to capacity, they add significant weight to the utility vehicle. If not evenly distributed, this can lead to:

  • Vehicle imbalance, making it prone to tipping over especially on uneven terrains.
  • Excessive strain on the vehicle’s suspension and braking system.
  • Potential damages to the vehicle’s chassis over time due to the added weight.

It’s paramount for users to be aware of the vehicle’s weight limits and adhere to them religiously. Overloading not only poses risks to the vehicle but also to the safety of the operator and others in the vicinity.

Water Usage and Supply

Another potential danger with slip-on units in farm fire fighting equipment relates to water supply. Due to their compact size, they inherently have a limited water reservoir. In intense fire situations, there’s a risk of depleting the water supply faster than anticipated. When this happens, not only is the fire fighting capability compromised, but the pump can also get damaged if it runs dry. Thus, operators must always be vigilant about water levels and have a strategy for quick refills, ensuring continuous operation and safety of the equipment.

Complete Bushfire Safety Book


Deep Dive into Conclusions

The Indispensability of Preparation

The significance of having the right farm fire fighting equipment cannot be emphasised enough. The guide meticulously outlines the intricacies and essentials, ensuring that farm owners are not left wanting when facing nature’s fury. It’s not just about having the equipment, but knowing how to use it effectively. A well-equipped farm can not only protect its assets but can also be a crucial ally to neighbouring properties and firefighting services.

Future-proofing Farms

As global temperatures rise and weather patterns become increasingly unpredictable, farms in Australia and beyond will face heightened fire risks. This guide, therefore, serves a dual purpose. It’s not just a manual for the present but a blueprint for the future. By understanding:

  • The role of machinery in preventing and managing fires,
  • The significance of robust communication systems,
  • And the importance of traffic management during emergencies,

farm owners can ensure that they are not only equipped for today but are also laying the foundations for a safer tomorrow. Investing in the right farm fire fighting equipment is not a cost but a commitment to safeguarding one’s legacy.

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