Fire Safety on Farms

9th July, 2018

Shropshire Fire and Rescue Service are urging farmers to take extra care on farms around harvesting time.

All farms are at risk from fire. Each year in the UK approximately 1600 farm buildings and thousands of acres of land and crops are destroyed by fire. Most fires on farms can be prevented if farmers are aware of potential fire hazards.Farm Fires can be very labour intensive and can at times stretch fire service resources, crews can be on scene for long periods of time to ensure that a fire does not spread to other buildings. In Shropshire we attended 94 incidents on farms from April 2017 to date:

Agricultural machinery and tractors              28
Farm Buildings                                              13
Straw/ Hay                                                    13
Gorse/ Grass                                                12
Shed                                                               6
Chimney                                                         5
Barn                                                                4
Skip                                                                 2
Derelict farm buildings                                    2
Bonfires                                                           2
Trailer                                                              1
Silage                                                              1
Garage                                                            1

Farm fires can be prevented by taking simple and effective measures and precautions:

  • Maintain farm machinery in good working order, especially when coming out of storage, ensure that it is free from grease, straw and hay.
  • Control smoking and work areas associated with welding/blow lamps etc
  • Hay and straw should be removed from the fields as soon as possible after harvesting and stored, taking care to ensure that it is dry to prevent spontaneous combustion which is a common cause in stacked and baled crops.

Hay and straw should be stored separately from other buildings particularly those housing fuels, agrochemicals and farm machinery. The stacks should be a reasonable size at least 10metres apart, separate from livestock housing. Care should also be taken to ensure that stacks are not too close to roof lighting.

  • Petrol, diesel and other fuels should be stored in secure areas, with storage tank outlets padlocked.
  • Fertilizers and pesticides should be stored securely and have the correct signage, (as required under the Dangerous Substances, notification and marking of sites Regulations 1990) there is also a requirement to inform the fire service if you store over 25 tonnes.
  • Annual Electrical Safety checks should be carried out.
  • We advise that an assessment should be made of farm security paying attention to lighting, fencing and locks.
  • We also recommend that any fire fighting equipment should be maintained and in good working order.
  • Check and maintain open water supplies that could be utilised for fire fighting.
  • Escape routes and passages should be kept free from any stored materials or equipment at all times.
  • Ensure that everyone knows where the nearest phone is located and how to call the emergency services.
  • If a fire is discovered call 999 and give the full address of the premises, giving directions and sending someone to the farm entrance to direct the fire service.

We advise people to make a note of the grid reference to their properties especially in remote locations.

To prevent the risk of Arson we suggest that a good standard of security is maintained for all outbuildings, repair or replace any damaged fencing /gates.

  • Consider installing intruder sensor and security lighting.
  • Prevent easy access to fuel and chemical storage areas.
  • Dogs and geese give an early warning of any intruders.

 

In addition to consideration of these simple precautions, you may be required to carry out a Fire Risk Assessment under the The Fire Safety Order 2005. The primary Fire Safety legislation in England and Wales is the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 which came into force in October 2006. It replaced all the existing fire safety legislation and impacts on all employers, owners, occupiers and self-employed businesses.
There are very few exceptions from having to comply with the new regulations. This legislation applies to farm buildings. Farm owners and managers are generally seen under the Order as being the Responsible Person with whom the duty resides to ensure adequate fire safety provisions are in place. The Order requires a Fire Safety Risk Assessment be carried out which should, if done properly, ensure preventative and protective measures are adopted to minimise the potential for fire. It firmly places the responsibility for all fire safety matters with not only the employer or manager, but also the owner of a building (who may not be the employer) and the employees.
 

www.shropshirefire.gov.uk  Business Fire Safety 01743 260200
www.arsonpreventionbureau.org.uk                      02072167522
www.westmerciapolice.uk                                                      101