It’s frightening enough to imagine your house on fire, but what about your barn? When it comes to fire control, Wisconsin farms are high-risk because they typically are located further away from fire departments.
Luckily, most barn fires are preventable. Keep these five fire prevention tips top of mind, and share them with your family, staff and visitors to ensure the only fire on your farm is a good, old-fashioned (and safe) bonfire.
Fire Prevention Tips on the Farm
- Be on the lookout for fire hazards, such as broken light fixtures, exposed electrical wires, loose outlets, wet hay, clutter of flammable materials and obstructed exit pathways. Keep a list of potential problem areas to share with staff and check on them regularly. Keep an eye out for dirt and build-up around outlets that could cause an ignition source. Replace frayed or damaged cords as soon as you notice them.
- Properly store and maintain a list of fire accelerants on your farm. Substances that increase the speed at which a fire spreads are accelerants—gasoline, kerosene, oil, paint thinner, aerosol cans, chemicals, etc. These should be stored in a spill-proof UL–approved container. Only the minimal amount needed should be kept out in the open during use, and a fire extinguisher should be located nearby.
- No smoking allowed (not once, not ever). It seems like common sense to not smoke in a building full of combustible materials. Strictly enforce no smoking policies and install “No Smoking” signs in farm buildings.
- Clear the clutter—inside and out. Eliminating clutter inside and outside of barns is one of the easiest things you can do to reduce the risk of fire spread. Especially pay attention to the areas around the circuit breaker box and exits. Relocate or dispose of any unnecessary materials taking up space inside the barn.
- Make fire safety training a priority. By practicing good housekeeping each day with your family and workers, fire safety will quickly become a habit. Coordinate planned and surprise fire drills with your local fire department that include how to properly evacuate livestock. Or, ask someone from the department to do a walk-through of your barn for a second set of eyes.
As Wisconsin’s #1 farm insurer, it’s our job to understand the risks Wisconsin farmers face so we can help prevent them. Talk with your local Rural Mutual agent about fire safety training resources and other ways we can help you protect your farm.
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