Tag Archives: farm ranch fire prevention

Reducing Risk of Fire on Your Farm & Ranch

Reducing Risk of Fire on Your Farm & Ranch

Part 2 – Reducing Risk of Fire on Farm & Ranch

As we discussed in Part 1 of Farm, Ranch & Fire, an agricultural fire tends to be more costly than other industrial fires.  Not only is property and equipment affected, so too are crops and livestock – the combination is a double whammy which increases the commercial value of the loss.

Clearly all the safety precautions in the world won’t help if a wildfire has advanced to the point that evacuation of your farm or ranch is necessary, nonetheless whatever fire prevention precautions can be taken should be.  In Part 1 of this article we looked at some simple steps every farm or ranch can take with a mind to fire prevention.  Now we will take a closer look at ways to reduce the risk of fire to your farm or ranch.

Fire Prevention Measures

Forest Fire.  No one ever wants to have to use it, but it is a good idea to develop an evacuation plan (bearing in mind livestock) and incorporate drills into your staff training and education.

Noncombustible Zones.  Keep dry and flammable vegetation at least 5 feet away from barns, outbuildings and residences.  Establish a noncombustible zone around fuel, chemicals, hay and equipment. Welders/ and cutting torches should only be used in clean areas well away from flammable materials (at least 35 feet). Keep roofs and eaves troughs free of combustible debris.  Maintain appropriate fire guards around crops and pastures.

Equipment.  Replace belts, bearings and electrical components in a timely manner.  Keep engine compartments clean.  Be sure mufflers and manifolds are in proper working order.  Follow maintenance schedules for machinery.  Machinery or vehicles with special hazards should be stored separately. Fire extinguishers should be on tractors, combines and other farm and ranch vehicles.

Buildings.  Be sure to include updating buildings with fire resistant materials (and sprinklers) in your budget and short and long-term planning.  To prevent the spread of fire, construct new buildings away from preexisting ones.  Keep vegetation cut around and between buildings.  Use fire doors and smoke detectors.

Electrical.  Be sure staff and family know how to disconnect main power.  Extension cords are not designed to be permanent wiring solutions.  When you need to use them for a temporary purpose, be sure they are rated appropriately for the task.  Keep an eye out for exposed wiring or frayed insulation around wiring.  Better safe than sorry.  Bring in a licensed contractor for advice, inspections, renovations and new construction.

Heating Sources.  Use dust and moisture resistant covers on lights.  Tank heater cords and heat tapes should be protected against damage by pests or livestock.  Use heaters with tip-over protection and be sure they are not placed in high traffic areas or where combustibles and flammables are stored.  Dispose of oily rags in a timely manner.  Cure hay to the proper moisture content before bailing.

Controlled Burns.  The Government of Saskatchewan has a great little article online entitled “FireSmart: Farm and Ranch Practices”.  The article has some excellent tips about controlled burns, as well as fire prevention in general for farmers and ranchers.

Farming and ranching may feel a bit like gambling sometimes.  There are many variables at play which can affect the prosperity of an operation from year to year – don’t let careless fire prevention be one of them.  Be vigilant, establish a culture of safety on your farm or ranch.

Barr-Ag

 

Contact Barr Ag to get more information on any of our crops including Alfalfa, Timothy, Mixed Hay, Canadian Grains and Pulse crops.

References:
The Government of Saskatchewan; Wildfire Education and Prevention; FireSmart: Farm and Ranch Practices
http://www.environment.gov.sk.ca/Default.aspx?DN=2116f4ac-765b-4e14-9486-4eb96e9b5e10

Farm Ranch Fire Prevention

Farm, Ranch & Fire Prevention

Part 1 – Simple Steps for Fire Prevention

In terms of forest fires, the summer of 2016 was tough for those living in northern Alberta. “The fire spread across approximately 590,000 hectares (1,500,000 acres) before it was declared to be under control on July 5, 2016.” [1]

While damages to Fort McMurray itself, work camps and surrounding boreal forest were extensive, losses in terms of agriculture were not substantial as the areas affected were not primarily agricultural in purpose.  However, the fires in Southern and Central Alberta in the summer of 2017, have had an impact on both farming and ranching. Extremely dry conditions set the stage for the commencement and growth of fires in several areas across Southern and Central Alberta – both prime agricultural regions.

Farming and ranching aren’t without their dangers – even under the best of environmental conditions, but in a dry year it is important to keep vigilant.  Agricultural fires tend to be more costly than other industrial fires because not only is property and equipment affected, so too are crops and livestock – the combination increases the commercial value.

While there is not much that can be done about Mother Nature, we can at least be sure that we take measures to reduce the risk of fire on farm and ranch.

Fire Prevention Measures:

No Smoking.  One of the most preventable causes of fires is the haphazard extinguishing or “flicking” of cigarette butts. Provide safe and dedicated receptacles for butts at designated areas.  Be sure staff, seasonal workers and family are aware that using them is non-negotiable and smoking bans apply everywhere else – around combustible materials, in barns etc. Post “No Smoking” signs.

Remove.  Familiarity can minimize our ability to observe the obvious.  Be on the look-out for potential fire hazards and remove them whenever possible.  If a particular hazard can’t be removed, take necessary steps to mitigate fire risk associated with it.

farm fire prevention

Rooftop Fire Prevention Sprinklers

Education.  Teach staff, seasonal employees and family members to be safety conscious and mindful of fire risk.  Be sure everyone knows where the fire extinguishers are.  Conduct fire drills which include various scenarios.  Come up with a plan of action in the event of a fire and be sure staff and family know what to do.

Equipment. Be sure fire extinguishers, fire and smoke alarms are in proper working order.  Some operations my require the installation of warning systems or water sprinklers in barns or processing facilities.

Safety First.  Employ safe housekeeping practices.  Be intentional so that it will be a habit during busy harvest and planting season.  Put tools, supplies and equipment away properly. Maintain aisles, walkways, entrances and exits free of clutter and obstructions.  Inspect mechanized equipment on a regular basis to ensure things are in proper working order.

The Fire Department.  Maintain a good relationship with your local fire department – in the event of an incident you will be glad that you did.  Try to ensure adequate water supply is available.  Keep an updated list of hazardous materials that are stored on your property.

Fire is just one of the factors that can threaten the productivity and prosperity of a farm, but it is a threat that we have some measure of control over.  Part 2 of Farm, Ranch & Fire will look at other practices and strategies that can be employed to further fire prevention management on farm and ranch.

 

Barr-Ag

 

Contact Barr Ag to get more information on any of our crops including Alfalfa, Timothy, Mixed Hay, Canadian Grains and Pulse crops.

 

References:

[1] 2016 Fort McMurray Wildfire