With the current heatwave predicted to last, there is an increased risk of wildfires such as the ones seen in and around Suffolk & North Essex. There is always a risk of fire on farms but high temperatures, lack of rain and harvest activity make the risk greater.
Here's a reminder of the key things of which to be aware:
If you discover a wildfire 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. At Longfields, we are pleased to discuss complete farm risk management plans and a call to us may help you consider your current position.
At harvest, to reduce the risk of fire:
- Ensure you have fit for purpose (excess capacity is always helpful) and checked fire extinguishers with every vehicle during harvest. We recommend water bowser and pump in same field as you combining.
- Consider cultivating firebreaks around fields after harvest.
- Make sure machinery is chaff free, serviced and in good condition. Try and ‘blow down’ combine daily with a good look around engine compartment.
- Have a tractor and plough ready to cut a fire break if necessary.
- Regularly check and maintain open water supplies for firefighting.
- Remind employees to be careful with cigarettes and matches while harvesting.
- Be vigilant and pay attention to roadside verges when out & about. A significant number of fires are starting next to roads.
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.
- Storing separately from other buildings in stacks of reasonable size away from roads and other thoroughfares. Also check your insurance straw storage cover for adequacy and possible stack size warranties. We are happy to help or advise on these points if you’re unsure of your position.
- Keeping stacks a safe distance form overhead power cables. Check with HSE if you are unsure.
- This year, straw prices are extremely high at present. Consider your whether to ‘chop’ is appropriate - baling (yourself or contractor/merchant) in the current very dry spell may prove financially viable.