Fire safety at work - countryside and farm fires

Barn Fires (5)

Every year in the UK 1,700 farm buildings and 66,000 areas of grassland are destroyed by fire. 50% of these fires are started deliberately, either as an act of mindless vandalism or a fraudulent insurance claim.

A serious fire on a farm can affect the financial stability of even the most well run business. 40% of businesses that suffer arson attacks never trade successfully again.

Farms are particularly vulnerable to arson, their isolated location; open boundaries, readily ignitable hay and straw make them an easy target. Whilst arson attacks on farms and small holdings may be difficult to eliminate, a number of simple precautions can substantially reduce the risk of attack. Hay and straw should be removed from fields as soon as possible after harvesting.

Assessing the Risk

A simple quick survey around the farm will identify areas where an arsonist could strike, ask the local crime prevention officer/your insurance adviser for their assistance.

Your survey may reveal the need to:

  • Repair or replace damaged fencing or gates.
  • Install intruder sensors and security lighting.
  • Maintain the security of outbuildings replace or re-site security and warning notices.
  • Maintain firefighting equipment and check that it is in order.
  • Dogs and geese can give effective early warning of intruders; however guard dogs must not be allowed to roam freely.
  • Prepare a fire routine and action plan make sure all farm workers know what to do.
Hay and straw should be stored...
  • Separate from other buildings, particularly those housing fuels, agrochemicals and machinery.
  • In stacks of reasonable size, spaced at least 10 metres apart.
  • Separate from livestock housing.
  • Petrol, diesel and other fuels should be stored in secure areas; storage tank outlets should be padlocked.
  • Fertilisers and pesticides should be kept under lock and key.
  • Refuse should be disposed of safely and on a regular basis.
Preventing fires in grassland and standing crops

The danger of fire during hot weather is self evident; however, many fires occur in the spring and late summer, usually due to carelessness.

  • Don't allow the lighting of open fires or barbecues.
  • Ensure cigarettes etc, are extinguished carefully.
  • Only allow camping and picnicking in monitored areas.
  • Provide litter receptacles for bottles and other rubbish - empty them regularly.
  • Ask parents to supervise their children.
  • Regularly check and maintain open water supplies for firefighting.
  • Ensure 'Fire Danger' warning signs are in place.

Remember - Report all incidents of fire and anyone acting suspiciously to your local police.