Barn fires are the thing of nightmares for every single farmer. They can bring not only great emotional strain, but also create financial stress on the farm. As a farmer you take every step to keep your livestock and crops healthy. You understand that prevention is better than reaction to keep your operation running. Part of your farm business planning should include a farm fire safety plan and early identification of the hazards and risks your farm may encounter that could lead to a devastating fire.
Fires need very little to get started and most barns have lots of fuel that can help contribute to a small fire growing and spreading very rapidly. Making sure that staff and family members have the proper knowledge and training to react should a fire occur will helping to keep your family, employees and livestock safe, while reducing the chances of potential injury and damage.
Protecting your entire operation is a big job and educating your family/staff to know how to react in the event of an emergency can make a huge difference. Every farm operation has different needs and resources in place and like your insurance coverage your fire safety plan should be unique to your specific operation.
Does Your Family/Staff Know…?
- Who to contact in the event of an emergency? This includes emergency services, the farm owner and your farm insurance broker.
- Is the farm address clearly posted at all exits? In a high stress situation it is very easy to forget the important details that can be essential for front line workers.
- Is there a plan in place for livestock if they need to be evacuated and housed quickly? Who to contact, where they are going and how are they getting there?
- Does everyone know the designated meeting spot outside? Are there alternate routes out of every building?
- Emergency procedures including:
- Detailed guidelines for how to react should the fire alarm sound
- Locations of fire extinguishers around the property
Make Housekeeping a Priority
Making sure to keep the area in and around your barn clean and tidy is an easy way to reduce your chances of having a barn fire. You can reduce your risk exposure by doing the following:
- Remove any and all debris and clutter from inside and around the outside of the barn.
- Keep all hay, bedding and other combustibles at least 3 feet away from any electrical panels or systems
- Only use an extension cord for a very short period of time and ensure it is not laying in combustible material
- Keep all hay, bedding and other combustibles at least 3 feet away from any electrical panels and systems
- Regularly check fans and motors to remove any and all dust and debris
- Make sure all chemicals are labelled and are stored in accordance with regulations
These tips along with regular risk inspections of all your electrical within and around the barn by using a thermal camera which can help identify many risks before they become larger problems. Always remember to have a licensed electrician complete all of your electrical repairs. Farm equipment can also be a major source of ignition for fires. They give off lots of heat even once turned off. If placed in a barn or outside near fuel and feed they can ignite very easily and create a major claim for your operation.
Fire Safety Inspection Checklist
In order to help keep your farm safe check out our fire safety inspection checklist to keep an eye out for hazards in order to reduce the risk of a fire on your farm.
- Are all new buildings, farm equipment and livestock accounted for in the fire safety plan?
- Are all combustible and flammable liquids stored in approved containers, away from any heat sources?
- Has a risk inspector identified any hot spots in your barns using thermal cameras?
- Is your barn kept clear of clutter and combustible materials?
- Do you have a cleaning schedule for fans and motors
As farm operations continue to expand barn fires will continue to become more and more severe. Although available technology is becoming better at early detection, the cost to replace barns, farm equipment and livestock is continuing to rise. There are many preventative measures that can be taken to avoid a potentially large barn fire. PrevTech Innovations Inc monitors the health of a farms’ electrical systems. Their units identifies electrical faults and temperature changes which triggers a notification to you, the farmer, and your electrician. This allows you to detect these anomalies early and prevent a costly claim down the road.
Creating a fire safety plan can be daunting, but it is extremely important to make sure that you are prepared ahead of time.
- When was your fire prevention equipment and systems inspected last?
- Have you had a risk reduction assessment to identify elements of your operation that could lead to a devastating claim?
- Regularly test fire alarms at least twice a year
- Regularly inspect fire walls and electrical for damage
Small steps such as keeping a clean work space and regularly inspecting and maintaining your equipment can go a long way. This blog is intended to help you identify hazards & gaps in your fire safety plan. In case you do encounter a fire always remember:
- PASS when using a fire extinguisher
- Crawl low under smoke
- Get out fast and stay out!