It’s better to have the local fire department out on the farm for a tour than fighting a fire that could have been prevented.
Pittsville Fire Chief Jerry Minor explains that the fire department cannot inspect your standard farm like it can a commercial building. He encourages farmers to invite their department out to not only identify potential risks that can be addressed, but to create a response plan in case there is a fire on the property.
There are resources to help you address fire hazards on the farm. The Upper Midwest Agricultural Safety and Health Center has a checklist focused on fire prevention, and it has Chief Minor’s stamp of approval. UMASH outreach specialist Megan Schossow breaks it down:
farm Fire Prevention checklist
- Keep It Clean
- Cobwebs, dust, bedding and feed can catch fire. Sweep it up.
- Clear debris from electrical outlets, electrical panels, fans and lights.
- Control rodents.
- Store Flammables Properly
- Keep chemicals, fertilizers, pesticides, paint and oils away from machinery, heating sources and electrical equipment.
- Keep these flammable liquids in labeled containers. Note the quantity, date purchased and type of liquid. Store in safety cabinets with a warning sign.
- These tips also apply to oil and grease rags.
- Check Electric Infrastructure
- Repair or replace damaged or exposed wiring.
- Wrap wires in corrosion-resistant conduit pipes.
- Use extension cords temporarily.
- Unplug what’s not in use.
- Maintain Heat Sources
- Keep heat lamps secure, clean and in good repair.
- Same goes for your furnace, wood stove and water heaters.
Not all fires are prevented. Do you have an emergency plan in place?
fire emergency plan tips
- Know Your Fire Extinguisher
- Keep up-to-date class ABC fire extinguishers in every building and on your equipment.
- Regularly practice fire drills and how to use the extinguisher.
- Know Your Fire Department
- Or better yet, make sure your fire department knows you.
- Invite your local department to the farm for a tour. This allows them to map hazards.
- Keep the yard clear of debris for fire fighting equipment. A driveway width of 12-14 feet is preferred.
- Give The Right Information
- Have a list of emergency phone numbers and addresses. Schossow recommends laminating it and keeping it near the phone.
- When you call for help, give specific details about location and the situation so that EMS comes with the correct equipment. An ambulance cannot drive across a plowed field.
As Wisconsin’s No. 1 farm insurer, it’s our job to understand the risks farmers face so we can help prevent them. A fire is a devastating loss. Talk with your local Rural Mutual agent about fire safety training resources and other ways we can help you protect your farm.