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Reducing fire risk on the farm

Quick facts

  • Having a clear action plan will allow you to respond quickly, should a fire occur on your farm.
  • Fire extinguishers are critical on the farm to reduce fire risk.
  • Make sure the people on your farm are properly trained for tasks that have a higher risk of starting a fire.
  • Improperly maintained equipment may send out sparks, overheat, or have an electrical malfunction.
  • Proper and regular maintenance of the buildings, barns and bins around the farm is crucial in reducing fire risk.

Farms present many fire risks and, especially during drought, it is critical to pay attention to these risks and take steps to mitigate them.

An awareness of potential fire hazards on your farm and having a plan to address them are key components in protecting your farm and your people.

While these tips are particularly useful in times of drought and increased fire risk, it’s also helpful to keep them in mind all year and in all weather patterns.

People

The people in and around your farm—and their actions—may put your farm at risk for a fire.

  • Make sure any tasks being performed that involve open flame, high heat, or flying sparks are completed by people who have experience with the task.
  • Ensure they are doing their work away from flammable materials, in a safe, well-ventilated area, and with a fire extinguisher nearby.
  • Discourage smoking around the farm, especially in areas with flammable materials or a lot of dust.

Equipment

Farm equipment presents various fire risks. Improperly maintained equipment may send out sparks, overheat, or have an electrical malfunction.

  • Properly maintain equipment and have a fire extinguisher in every tractor and combine to reduce fire risk.
  • Be mindful of the conditions you are working in; dry field material can easily ignite from heavy friction or high heat.
  • Be aware of situations with heavy dust, which is also at risk of igniting.

Facilities

Proper and regular maintenance of the buildings, barns and bins around the farm is crucial in reducing fire risk.

  • Check electrical wiring and hookups and make necessary fixes and replacements, especially in older buildings.
  • Keep storage areas for flammable materials cool and well-ventilated.
  • Regularly clean facilities to decrease dust and other dry residues that can catch fire easily.
  • Keep fire extinguishers nearby at several locations around the farm. 

Mitigating fire risk

Fire extinguishers are critical on the farm to reduce fire risk. Being able to respond to a fire situation quickly is key to preventing the spread of flames, especially in very dry conditions.

It is crucial to have an action plan in place should a fire occur. Action plans should include emergency shut-off procedures, evacuation plans, and strategies for protecting livestock. Having a clear plan will allow you to respond quickly, should a fire occur on your farm.

Lastly, being a responsible manager of your people, equipment, and facilities will keep your fire risk low.

Author: Emily Krekelberg, Extension educator, farm safety and health

Reviewed in 2021

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