Farming Advice in Hot Weather

The high temperatures and dry weather indicate a very busy time for the farming community.  With the increased use of machinery and harvesting of crops at optimum conditions there are increased risks of fire, please see below some key safety advice and tips that will help to reduce that risk.  

  • Ensuring that harvest machinery is well maintained and checked regularly, lubricated and that it is clean from oil, fuel and excessive dust and debris build up. Following storage pay close attention for signs of birds' nests and vermin damage to electrical systems. On larger machines such as self-propelled foragers and combines, consider fitting fire suppression systems.
  • Carry an extinguisher when carrying out harvesting operations making sure it's secured to the machine and not let loose in the cab as this could cause serious injury in the event of an overturn. Ensure the extinguisher is regularly maintained by an approved supplier.
  • Avoid parking tractors/foragers and combines in close proximity of combustible material such as bales.
  • Bales overheating- making sure hay/straw is sufficiently dry before baling and left to cool outdoors before storing.  Farmers who have concerns about their bale stacks overheating can request a FREE bale stack temperature check from Mid and West Wales FRS, Farmers must be vigilant checking for signs of stack venting early in the morning, (steaming) and for signs of discolouration to the bales.  Contacting the Fire service on 01268 909408 for a FREE bale test, or 999 if they believe it to be at high risk. DO NOT CLIMB ON TOP OF BALE STACKS as they can collapse inwardly in the event of heating have occurred.
  • Avoid carrying out any controlled burning (bonfires), or if necessary, make sure that it is well away from farm buildings and that you have sufficient means to extinguish and control. Always remain with and supervise the fire until it is fully extinguished. In dry conditions small fires have been known to creep and reach farm buildings.
  • Take great care when carrying out hot repairs such as welding or grinding, be mindful of sparks and have a suitable means of extinguishing media on hand. Carry out any work well away from flammable materials such as hay and straw.
  • Pre-plan- Request a FREE farm fire prevention visit from a Farm Liaison Officer to advise on matters such as-
    • Reducing the likelihood of a fire occurring in the first instance and identifying possible ignition sources.
    • Identifying hazards to Fire Crews attending ie- Fuel storage, gas cylinders, fertiliser and chemical stores, renewable energy systems.
    • Identifying logistical issues such as limited access, poor water supplies and pre-planning for these issues.
    • Creating a livestock evacuation plan.
    • Creating a fire action plan folder available to responding fire crews including site plans and details of dangerous substances such as chemicals and fertiliser and how to access water supplies.

Farm Liaison Officer, Jeremy Turner said:

"Coming from a farming background I cannot emphasis how important it is that we take time at this incredibly busy time of the year to consider ways to protect ourselves from the risk of fire occurring in the first instance.

Fires not only cause damage to buildings and machinery but can also have a substantial financial impact on a farming business with some farms unable to recover from a fire occurring. There are some simple steps that can be taken in reducing the risks such as, regularly greasing and checking over our harvesting machinery, clearing off build ups of dust, chaff and oil. Also ensuring that our fodder is ready for baling and for storage, we recommend that bales being brought in for storage have a moisture content of no more than 20%. It is also vital that we take great care when carrying out repairs to agricultural machinery such as grinding and welding.

Preplanning is also a key component to preparing ourselves for the event of a fire, I strongly recommend that members of the farming community take advantage of the FREE Farm Liaison Officer services that are available from Mid and West Wales FRS, this can be done by either by email- farmsliaisonofficer@mawwfire.gov.uk or by calling 0800 1691234."

 

In the event of a fire occurring- 

  1. Only attempt to tackle the fire if it is safe to do so and you have sufficient extinguishing material to do so.
  2. If the fires not out within 20 to 30 seconds, then it is time to move to safety and call for the fire service.
  3. When calling the Fire Service - Give clear directions to the location of the fire, we recommend the use of the What3words app to pinpoint a farmer's location to a 3-metre square. Send someone to meet oncoming appliances at the farm entrance (take a torch at night) and display your farm name at the end of the driveway.
  4. Tell the operator what is on currently on fire and what may be at risk of fire.
  5. Inform the operator of any issues that may affect us attending, for example, request a 4x4 capability if required.
  6. Be ready to assist fire crews with on-site farm machinery such as front-end loaders and telehandlers.
  7. Make yourself known to the Fire Crew on arrival and remain on hand to answer any questions that they may have.
  • REMEMBER- Never put yourself at risk when tackling a fire.

 

Farmers can carry out their own Fire Risk Assessments by adhering to the following-

Fire risk assessment

The fire risk assessment has five steps:

  1. Identify hazards.These could be sources of ignition such as welding or grinding equipment. Look for sources of fuel. These can be anything that burns, from hay to petrol. Dangerous substances such as chemicals, fertiliser and asbestos must be identified as well.
  2. Identify people at risk.These include people who work for you, visitors, children and other vulnerable people, and fire fighters who respond to an emergency.
  3. Evaluate the risk of fire occurring and the risk to people.Wherever possible remove or reduce fire hazards. This could be by installing smoke and fire alarms, firefighting equipment and identifying escape routes.
  4. Record significant findings and actions you have taken.Prepare an emergency plan. Inform and instruct anyone who might be affected and provide training.
  5. Review the assessment on a regular basis to make sure it is up to date.