Least Resistance Training Concepts

Volunteers Training for Emergencies

  LRTC Emergency Response Team
Information Sheet

December 8, 2017
Updated November 28, 2018

Literally, for decades we have engaged in outreach to motivate personal livestock owners and operators of commercial livestock facilities (mainly boarding and training stables) to take basic steps to ensure that animals in those facilities can be safely relocated or properly sheltered in place in the event of a serious wide-area emergency such as a wildfire or flood. Many of those strategies can be found by using the links at the bottom of this information sheet. The topics covered in this presentation involve critical premises safety issues relating to access and safe movement of animals. Some of the California fires of 2017 and 2018 clearly demonstrated that this thought process is not universally practiced.

Time and again we see news media reports that animal owners were "taken by surprise" and did not have time to react. The hard truth is that emergencies such as wildfires and flash floods do not make appointments in advance in order to impact citizens when it is most convenient. The increased chances of these events occurring are often predicted by fire officials and weather forecasters, but still too often many people's attitudes are that they will deal with the problem when it comes.

History has proven that few people can act efficiently and effectively when they find themselves in the middle of a fast-moving panic-driven situation with no pre-plan to help organize their activities. Conversely, when owners, facility operators, boarders and friends are aware of and follow logical emergency plans, the actions that take place under pressure are often far more organized and far more effective. These successes can be increased when some basic attention is given to making those premises more fire-resistant and accessible to emergency responders.

Individual property owners and facility owners have little control over regional fire risk and behavior, but premises safety, access, and posting a credible action plan are three elements we all have control over. These issues are relatively easy to address and can prove significantly beneficial.

Resources are often available to
help you, however their effectiveness
is often dependent upon your preparations.


For reasons of general safety, we constantly preach the need to maintain secure premises so that uninvited people can't just come in, handle the animals and create hazards that result from careless behavior. However, approaches taken to maintain general security should not impede emergency responders from gaining immediate access during an emergency. Local agencies should have the keypad codes for electric gates or the gates should also be programmed with a universal emergency code if the local agency uses one.

Special high security key boxes such as "Knox Boxes" that emergency responders can access can be used to operate gates, hold premises keys and even contain emergency plans.

An additional critical consideration involves premises identification. During a significant emergency event the crews who are responding to your needs will likely be from out of the area. We constantly hear responders over the fire radio asking for better directions or other information because they are having difficulty locating addresses, losing precious time. These issues are compounded in rural areas where street signs are inconsistently placed or maintained, where rural roads unexpectedly change names and where the access to larger parcels may not be on the street for which they are addressed.

Addresses should be clear, with numbers and letters on contrasting backgrounds, and not obstructed by vegetation or other objects.


Well arranged premises should have adequate means with which to move animals, redundancy in gates and alleyways so that animals can be moved safely and effectively in various directions, designated emergency loading areas that are always kept clear, and adequate room for tow vehicles and trailers to operate without getting in each others' way.

Premises also need to have an organized plan that is easy to understand, understood by all who frequent the premises, and that are posted for easy reference.

The following plan is for my personal small stable that includes some boarding and training.
Perimeter corral areas, except for the grass turnouts, are bare mineral soil.

Effective premises emergency plans often don't have to be complex. They just need to be logically organized and address various key issues.

  • What are the hazards and risks?

  • How can emergency responders gain access?

  • How can the owners or managers be reached if they are not present?

  • What is the layout of the premises / how is it organized?

  • What are animal related priorities / needed actions?

  • What are premises protection priorities / needed actions?

  • What are contact numbers for veterinarians, response teams, neighbors who could assist?

  • What additional resources would likely be needed?


  • Making Your Horse Barn Fire Safe

  • Preventing Barn Fires, an American Necessity

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    The training information presented in these information sheets and guides is offered for illustrative and volunteer refresher purposes only. It is not a substitute for actual hands-on training.

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