How to Fight Farm Fires And Prevent Fire Risks
No matter what your farm looks like, we can guess there are probably a few fire-related risks around. You may have outbuildings, equipment and even livestock to consider when protecting your farm against fire. While Red River Mutual is here to help you in the event of a claim, we want to show up earlier to help you avoid a devastating loss like this before it happens. So, we’ve compiled a checklist of things to look out for this year that will make it less likely for a fire to happen – and more likely that you’ll be prepared if one does.
General Farm Safety Tips
Farms can be large, and the risks might seem endless, but we’ve broken down some of the key areas to upgrade, check and prepare. Let’s start with some general fire safety tips. While many, or all of these may already be familiar to you, these are often-missed steps that end up resulting in a fire or loss situation. Using this as a backup safety checklist could save you money and time later.
Fire Safety Checklist
- Equip crop dryers with controls that will automatically shut off blowers or dampers when they get too hot.
- Make sure your family and employees know the barn is a no-smoking zone.
- Make sure all refueling stations are outdoors and that everyone you work with knows to turn off their engine prior and to let it cool.
- Ensure that your hay is properly dried before putting it in the barn to avoid spontaneous combustion.
- Ensure that all electrical installations and wiring are inspected and approved by the hydro authority in your region.
- Make sure your incinerator is equipped with a spark arrestor and is located at least 30 meters from any major buildings.
- Attach lightning rods to all major buildings.
- Label and store pesticides in a separate building.
- Make sure all fuel is stored outdoors.
Now, let’s look at some specific tips for a major fire hazard that is present on most farms: flammable liquids.
Flammable Liquid Storage and Use
Vapours from flammable and combustible liquids can ignite, causing a fire. When we say flammable liquids, we mean gasoline, paints and lacquers, or anything else that is easily combustible.
The most important thing to remember is to keep these items away from heat and flame. Store them in a cool, dry and unoccupied place in their original containers if possible. Always keep them firmly sealed and never store them in glass containers.
Second, it is important to deal with spills immediately. If you spill liquids on your clothing, remove the items and dry them outdoors. Once dry, the clothing can be laundered.
The same goes for oily rags. Never leave wet rags in a pile. Instead, spread them out in a safe area to dry and weigh them down so they don’t blow away. When storing the dry rag, place them in a ULC-certified, non-combustible metal container with a self-closing lid. Fill the container with a water and detergent solution which will break down the oils. Never use gasoline as a cleaner, or to break down grease.
A Note on Transferring Flammable Liquids
Transferring flammable liquids come with their own set of rules and safety equipment. For a detailed look, check out this Loss Prevention Tip.
Responding to a Fire
If a fire does break out, it’s important to have a well-planned fire emergency procedure. Here’s an outline you can use, with modifications for your specific farm.
- When a fire breaks out in a house or farm building, evacuate everyone from the building immediately. Normal exits may be blocked, so you must have emergency exits.
- Close all the doors and windows (including machinery doors) as you escape the fire; failure to do so may cause air drafts which will fan the fire.
- When everyone is out of the building, call your local Fire Services Department. Give them your name, address and the exact location of the fire.
- Never allow anyone to re-enter a burning building.
Another key thing to consider when creating your safety plan is the size and location of fire extinguishers.
For more details and resources to use when you build your safety plan, check out this full Loss Prevention Tip.
A Note on Fire Extinguishers
The right type of fire extinguisher in the right place can make the difference between a quickly controlled blaze and a major claim situation.
There are two main uses for a readily-available fire extinguisher
- To suppress a fire along an escape route.
- To extinguish or contain a fire until the fire department arrives.
If your farm is in a remote area and emergency response time is slow, this makes the presence of a fire extinguisher even more important.
What type of fire extinguisher do I need?
The best type of fire extinguisher for a farm is a multipurpose “ABC” type. This extinguisher will work for ordinary combustible materials (i.e. wood, paper, hay, etc.); flammable liquids (i.e. gas, oil, grease, etc.); and electrical fires. This means that whatever your farm looks like, you have a fire extinguisher that’s up to the job.
What is the right-sized fire extinguisher for me?
You should also consider the size of your fire extinguisher. Different sizes work better in different situations. For smaller farm vehicles and workshops, a 5- to 10-pound ABC extinguisher is recommended. For larger machinery, barns and silos, we recommend having at least a 10-pound ABC extinguisher on hand and an additional pressurized water extinguisher.
For more information on the best type of fire extinguisher for each situation, check out this full Loss Prevention Tip.
Fires can happen year-round and can have devastating outcomes. It’s important to be cautious and prepared to not only save your property, but lives on your farm. Look around your farm, spot the hazards and take the time now to save later.
For more Loss Prevention Tips for your home and farm, visit our Loss Prevention Tip Archive.