Fires are a risk year-round, but especially during the dry season that comes during harvest. Fire safety and fire prevention should be a part of every farmer’s farm safety plan.
Do your prep in the off season to make sure your machinery, buildings, and wiring are maintained properly. We talked to several experienced fire safety officials to get tips on avoiding a devastating fire…
Hay has its own category because of its flammability! Hay and bedding storage should not be stored near lights, fans, electrical boxes, heaters or outlets.
When storing newly baled hay, monitor the temperature of the bales to make sure they don’t get too hot and have adequate ventilation. If too much heat builds up, spontaneous combustion could happen. Never purchase hay that is hot – which happens if it was baled too wet. This is a fire hazard and the hay will usually turn moldy, making it unpalatable and unhealthy for animals to eat.
Smoke detectors can save critical time if a fire does start. Tips to keep in mind:
- Make sure you check smoke detectors regularly (at least twice a year).
- Connect the smoke detectors with a loud, external siren or alarm that will sound so they can be heard if no one is in the barn.
Check the heating system to make sure that every furnace and stove is in good repair. See that ducts and air shafts are clean of dust and debris and motors are cleaned and oiled.
Monitor your pulley belts and check gas and fuel oil systems for leaks and unsafe installations. Keep all types of heating devices and other equipment clean and in good condition.
Wires should be encased in a metal conduit pipe. Even temporary wires (such as extension cords to a tank heater) should be run through conduit pipe to keep the wires safe from breakage and away from the teeth of horses, livestock and rodents and metal shoes of horses.
Make sure that power needs for ventilation and feed distribution are met without overloading your electrical system and follow the National Electrical Code. Use good material and proper fuse size or circuit breaker rating and junction boxes at all splice points. Use waterproof wiring and receptacles, enclosed electric motors and similar equipment in any buildings which are cleaned periodically with high-pressure equipment.
Thanks to Aaron Harris and Brad Subera from the Middleton Fire Department for input.