Managing animals in a fire

Page last updated: Friday, 1 February 2019 - 3:02pm

Please note: This content may be out of date and is currently under review.

Proper management of animals during a bushfire is dependent on being prepared and having proper plans in place for fire response and recovery.

It is the responsibility of landholders to keep their animals safe.

Be prepared

One of the most important disaster preparedness steps is to assemble a disaster kit containing basic necessities and important information for you and your animals. The kit should include information and items you can use at home or take with you in case you must evacuate.

Consider in advance how long animals will need to be re-located following a fire. This will depend on the size and severity of the burn and the time it takes to return the property and installations to safe conditions.

Safety measures to prevent fire damage in farms and rural properties include:

  • Installation of fire extinguishers, sprinkler systems and smoke detectors.
  • Consider having the property inspected to identify areas/materials susceptible to fires and to recommend fire prevention measures.
  • Identify access to large volumes of water in case of fire.
  • Consider transport options
  • Identify shelter options
  • Have access to veterinary services
  • Identify evacuation routes.

Responding to a fire


Early evacuation of large animals, such as livestock and horses, is essential. Animal reactions to fire include nervousness and panic, or aggressive and resistive escape attempts. Animals can become injured or killed by fleeing from a fire into fences and barriers and running through uneven terrain. During a fire, injuries can also happen if animals are trapped in buildings, which could result in animals trampling other animals.

Some animal species such as alpacas, llamas and especially horses become virtually unmanageable in the face of oncoming fire.

  • Coordinate timely evacuations to minimise injuries. You may require help to handle nervous and diffficult animals.
  • Trailers and trucks must adhere to the maximum number of animals permited to avoid animals becoming injured on route.
  • Verify wheels and brakes are in good condition.

Where animals are sheltered with animals from other properties:

  • Ensure your animals have some form of identification.
  • Calm animals before being placed with other animals. 


Accessing your property safely after a bushfire

A restricted access area is a designated area within an incident area which authorised person can enter for a period of time and for a specific purpose.

A restricted access permit may be issued to residents, business owners or utility companies or other approved persons to:

  • enable them to activate their emergency plan
  • collect valuables and / or pets
  • transport various commodities such as milk, water, stock feed and store supplies
  • tend to livestock or
  • undertake other approved activities.

For more information about restricted access permits visit the Department of Fire and Emergency Services website.