Fire safety on the farm
Every year fire destroys thousands of acres of crops, buildings, countryside and wildlife habitat. Some fires are started deliberately, but some are due to carelessness. While in our experience of last years events others start by machinery striking flints and stones during the normal course of harvesting.
A serious fire on a farm can affect the financial stability of even the most well run business. 40% of businesses that suffer arson attacks never trade successfully again.
Farms are particularly vulnerable to arson, their isolated location, open boundaries, readily ignitable hay and straw stacks make them an easy target. Whilst arson attacks on farms and small holdings may be difficult to eliminate a number of simple precautions can substantially reduce the risk of attack. A lit cigarette thrown from a passing vehicle can mean the loss of whole fields of standing crops, whilst glass bottles left lying around in grass or woodland can cause fires of huge proportions during the warm dry weather as a result of the sun’s rays being concentrated and focused by the glass. Hay and straw should be removed from fields as soon as possible after harvesting.
We have produced a booklet in partnership with Farmwatch to help you reduce the risk to you as an individual, and to your farming business. It follows best practice and experience gained from both the Norfolk Fire and Rescue Service and Farmwatch alike.
If you have any information about a suspicious fire call Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111 - your call is free and completely anonymous. Visit the Crimestoppers website for further information.
A simple quick survey around the farm will identify areas where an arsonist could strike. Your survey may reveal the need to
- Provide, repair or replace damaged fencing or gates
- Install intruder sensors and security lighting
- Maintain the security of out buildings
- Replace or re-site security and warning notices
- Maintain firefighting equipment and check that it is in good order
- Prepare a fire routine and action plan and make sure all farm workers know what to do
To help reduce the risk of fire hay and straw should be stored:
- Separate from other buildings, particularly those housing fuel, agrochemicals and machinery
- In stacks of reasonable size, spaced at least 10 metres apart
- Separate from livestock housing
- Petrol, diesel and other fuels should be stored in secure areas, storage tank outlets should be padlocked
- Fertilizers and pesticides should be kept under lock and key
- Refuse should be disposed of safely and on a regular basis
The danger of fire during hot weather is self-evident, however, many fires occur in the spring and later summer due to carelessness by people passing by or even trespassing on farm land. It is indeed difficult to maintain secure boundaries when your land meets public roads and paths etc. but there are a number of things that you can do to reduce the spread of fire on your land should a fire start. This also becomes important when harvesting near buildings or expensive farm machinery.
- Keep farm machinery chaff free, serviced and in good condition
- Try and have a tractor with machinery free, to cut a fire break should the need arise
- Have a full water bowser or tank in close proximity when harvesting
- Regularly check and maintain open water supplies for firefighting
- Remind farm workers of their need to be careful with cigarettes and matches while harvesting
- Call the Fire and Rescue Service without delay
- Only attempt to fight the fire if it is safe to do so
- Send someone to meet and direct the Fire and Rescue Service to the fire
- Prepare to evacuate livestock should the fire spread
- Prepare to use farm machinery to assist the Fire and Rescue Service