With the current heatwave predicted to last, there is an increased risk of wild fires such as the ones seen in Marlow, Winter Hill and Saddleworth Moor. There is always a risk of fire on farms but high temperatures, lack of rain and harvest make the risk greater.
Here’s a reminder of the key things to be aware of:
If you discover a wild fire on open land, advice from the emergency services is:
- Get to a safe place. Wildfires can move quickly and in unpredictable ways.
- Go further away than you think necessary and put a natural fire break between you and the fire if possible.
- Note your location and call 999 asking for fire and rescue.
- Follow instructions from fire and rescue.
All farms are required to carry out a fire risk assessment. If you employ five or more people there is a requirement to record significant findings. See the NFU Business Guide on Fire Safety.
At harvest, to reduce the risk of fire:
- Ensure you have fit for purpose and checked fire extinguishers with every vehicle during harvest.
- Consider cultivating firebreaks around fields after harvest.
- Make sure machinery is chaff free, serviced and in good condition.
- Have a tractor and associated requirement ready to cut a fire break if necessary.
- Keep a full water bowser or tank nearby when harvesting.
- Regularly check and maintain open water supplies for fire fighting.
- Remind employees to be careful with cigarettes and matches while harvesting.
Hay and straw
Every year sees arson attacks involving stacks. You can reduce risk by:
- Removing hay and straw from fields as soon as possible after harvesting.
- Only baling when dry.
- Storing separately from other buildings in stacks of reasonable size away from roads and other thoroughfares.
- Keeping stacks a safe distance form overhead power cables. Guidance on safe distances is available from the HSE here.