Home' Smart Farmer : October 2011 Contents October 2011
By JOHN HUGHES
ATRACTOR or dozer can be a very use-
ful tool to prepare for the fire season.
This story shows you a number of ways to
put your machine to the task.
The information is general in nature.
As guidelines and regulations vary from
location to location it is imperative to refer to
your local authorities before starting any
Be aware there are limitations on using cer-
tain kinds of machinery, particularly during
the fire season.
For example, some equipment cannot be
used on fire risk days or it may be necessary to
have on hand a means of extinguishing a fire
created by the machinery.
It is good practice, and mandatory by law in
some states, to have a spark arrestor-style
exhaust system on your tractor.
These are created by removing a strip of
flammable vegetation to prevent small ground
fires continuing to spread.
Firebreaks may also allow fire fighting
equipment to access your property.
They are generally cut around the perimeter
of an area you want to protect – often around
The break needs to be cut wide enough to
prevent the fire jumping.
It should be noted that a fire break will not
help with flying embers carried in the air that
can create spot fires some distance from the
fire source. Similarly, a firebreak is more effec-
tive in an open area as fires can spread from
one tree to the next through the tree tops.
There are a number of ways to create a fire-
The most basic is to cut a strip of grass or
other light vegetation. Obviously the shorter
the vegetation is cut, the more effective the
break will be.
This can be done with a slasher or mulching
mower. A mulching mower is capable of cut-
ting up sticks and light vegetation as well as
A great way to cut down tougher vegetation
is to use a dozer that is capable of having a
mulching mower fitted to the rear.
This enables the machine to knock down
shrub out the front with a blade and then
break it up out the back.
A more comprehensive method is to strip
the ground to bare earth to remove all flam-
Again a blade on the front of a dozer is a
great way to do this.
A 4 in1 bucket fitted to a tractor will also do
This method provides greater protection but
is more likely to cause erosion or weed prob-
lems down the track. Herbicide can also be
used to kill off vegetation before it grows too
A spraying unit attached to your tractor can
be an efficient method to cover large areas.
This method can also cause problems with
weeds and erosion.
Large areas of standing grass can cause very
fast and intense fires – the longer and drier the
grass, the greater the hazard.
Keeping grass down around your home and
sheds can be an important part of protecting
A wheeled tractor and slasher will get
through flat and slightly hilly country more
quickly. A dozer with slasher will be much
slower but tackle very tough terrain.
Either way, when operating machinery in
long grass it is important to be careful about
running into hidden obstacles such as stumps
Be particularly careful of starting a grass fire
with your tractor / dozer. Heat and or sparks
created by machinery have started many grass
Light scrub and fallen branches should be
cleared from under trees. It can prevent a fire
generating sufficient intensity to ignite larger
Slashing and dozing as described above are
used here too. If the scrub is just knocked over
and not broken up with a mulching mower it
is best push it out into an open area away from
Burning off is an efficient method of dispos-
al if it is safe and allowable.
Alternately, if you have a small amount of
branches etc this can be reduced down with a
Completely or partially clearing an area of
trees will provide further fire protection.
Pushing trees over directly with a wheeled
tractor is a dangerous practice due to the risk
of rolling over.
Small trees can be pushed over with a dozer
style tractor but extreme caution must be exer-
cised to avoid the tree falling back towards the
machine and operator.
Ensure your machine has a certified Falling
Tractor, dozer tool
for essential jobs
Use a tractor or dozer to protect your property from fire.
Cutting a firebreak back to bare earth is
A tractor and slasher can cut a large, flat area
◗ Create spot fires some distance from source
◗ Breaks need to stop fire jumping
◗ Standing grass can cause intense fires
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