How to Reduce Fires on Your Farm

| 2023.05.17
How to reduce fires on your farm

Farms are a high-risk environment and especially prone to fire losses. The combination of air, heat and fuel coming together to cause a fire happens throughout a farm operation.

While farm insurance is essential for minimizing the impact of fires, it’s better to reduce the potential risks from the start.

Here are some tips that will help to reduce the chance of fire on your farm:

1. Prevention first

Conducting regular maintenance on your equipment is an important factor in preventing fires on your farm. Before you start any work—including harvesting—take the time to perform the necessary maintenance or repairs on your machinery.

There are several tools that can be used to perform these day-to-day tasks. Pressure washers and compressed air are great options for removing caked-on grease and debris that can gradually build up over time.

Keeping your machinery clean is an essential part of avoiding potential damage in the future. However, it’s not the only aspect of prevention you need to be concerned with. Accidents can occur when machinery and tools are not given the proper amount of time to cool down after use. Storing hot equipment with leftover dust, chaff or straw build-up could easily result in an unintentional ignition, leaving you devastated.

In addition to the above precautions, here are a few more steps you can take to help keep you and your farm safe this season:

  • Always check the engine fluid levels (such as coolant and oil) to ensure the machinery runs effectively and minimize the risks of overheating for internal parts.
  • Immediately repair any leaking fuel lines or oil hoses to avoid accidental ignition.
  • Regularly check equipment for worn bearings, belts, or chains that could cause further damage and/or catch fire.
  • Keep an eye out for any exposed wiring or signs of deterioration and replace any pieces that require it.
  • Remove any build-up of chaff & straw, debris, or grease from the many moving parts of all machinery.

2. Prepare for potential accidents

Even if you go through all the right steps and procedures to ensure your farm equipment is safe, accidents can still happen. It is better to be prepared if they do occur rather than scrambling if an accident does happen to you. During these types of incidents, your ability to respond quickly and efficiently will help reduce the amount of loss sustained to your farm.

Fires are unpredictable and can easily spread throughout your field. In the event that a fire does start, always remember to approach with caution, regardless of size. Although small fires may appear harmless, they can quickly become dangerous, so be diligent.

In order to keep yourself and others safe, follow these steps if/when there is a fire:

  • If your equipment or machinery catches fire, turn the engine off immediately if possible, and call 911 right away.
  • If you can do so safely, use a fire extinguisher to attempt to put out the fire using the PASS (Pull, Aim, Squeeze, Sweep) system.
  • Always keep one fire extinguisher in the cab of any vehicle or machinery and one in any nearby truck or vehicle.
  • If your field catches fire, remove equipment from the area as quickly as possible, snuff fire with a jacket, or some type of clothing, throw dirt onto the embers, create a berm if necessary, call 911.
  • Use water or a small shovel on any small debris fires to stop the potential spread.
  • Follow a predetermined emergency plan and make sure all family members/employees know this plan.

Keep in mind that not every fire can be extinguished easily, especially if it’s in a difficult area to reach or is spreading too fast. In most cases, it is safest to wait for emergency services to arrive rather than attempt to put out the fire yourself. To be prepared, regularly check the pressure of your fire extinguishers, replacing them whenever they do not meet the necessary specs. Some local fire departments will provide this service for you if needed.

3. Separate electrical service panels from livestock area

Depending on where your farm is located, there may be certain standards related to high-humidity environments that all your electrical equipment in livestock areas must meet. Typically, it is recommended as a best practice is to have a separate electrical/mechanical room built that can house your electrical service panels and other similar equipment to:

  • Protect your equipment from potentially corrosive, humid barn air.
  • Allow the equipment to be housed in a fire-proofed area.

Constructing a separate storage space for your electrical service panels also ensures easy access to them. If an accident occurs, it’s important to identify and reach the source.

4. Minimize clutter

When a fire ignites, it can only spread as far as the fuel does. Without any source of fuel or materials to feed off, the fire will die down quickly, eventually burning out altogether. Ensuring proper storage of any flammable or combustible materials will help reduce potential risks. Be sure to perform regular checks in and around your buildings to identify any clutter that needs to be removed.

Some preventative measures include:

  • Removing any piles of rubbish or clutter from around your farm.
  • Keeping fuel, as well as potentially combustible materials, stored safely away from buildings.
  • Regularly trimming vegetation, ensuring it remains short and away from the buildings.

How to Get Farm Insurance

At MMI Insurance, we understand the needs of Alberta farms. Whether it is insurance for your building, property, equipment, inventory, or farm vehicles, we offer products and services to protect your farm. Our farm insurance can help provide peace of mind and security for you and your family while also protecting your business.

With the right farm insurance coverage, we will work with you to ensure you are protected from losses such as equipment damage, theft, water damage, bodily injury, property damage, and downtime due to business disruptions. You can depend on MMI to create a customized insurance plan that optimizes coverage and minimizes premiums.

When shopping for farm insurance, you need an insurance advisor who is familiar with your industry. At MMI Insurance, we have been working in the community for over 60 years and have helped successful business owners from all industries.

To speak with one of our expert insurance advisors today and learn more about the available options for farm insurance, call MMI Insurance today at 1-866-222-6996 or contact us here.

Get in touch with us today if you’re interested in our commercial Insurance in Alberta.