Farming News - Harvest fire safety warning from NFU Mutual

Harvest fire safety warning from NFU Mutual

11 Jul 2018
Frontdesk / Arable

Conditions dryer than the fabled summer of 1976 are putting UK farms at high risk of devastating fires.

NFU Mutual’s Rural Affairs Specialist, Tim Price, explains: “The dry weather makes it more important than ever for farmers and country people to maintain their buildings and equipment to reduce the risk of a fire breaking out. Having evacuation and fire-fighting plans prepared and shared with family members and staff is a must.”

Tim warns that combines in particular are at heightened risk: “May and June’s good weather means that harvesting is already under way, weeks earlier than usual. NFU Mutual is urging farmers to reduce the risk of fire by making sure that fire extinguishers on combine harvesters are serviced before harvest starts, and to make sure regular maintenance and cleaning to remove chaff is carried out.”

In terms of maintaining your combine, Tim advises: “Cleaning chaff off the combine is the obvious place to start, particularly in these dusty, dry conditions. Tending to any oil or fuel leaks and replacing worn bearings is another simple way to reduce fire risk. If the combine does have a fire, it’s important to have a good set of fire extinguishers on board.”

“If a fire does occur,” says Tim, “the first priority is to ensure people and livestock are safe. However, with training and the right sort of fire extinguishers in place, it is often possible for farmers to tackle a small fire and prevent it turning into a major blaze without putting themselves at risk.”

For further information, see NFU Mutual’s Farm Fire checklist below, or visit for advice on preventing farm fires.

Fire Prevention:

• Ensure there are sufficient fire extinguishers for the size of buildings and that materials stored are inspected and regularly maintained

• Ensure all staff including seasonal workers and adult family members know the location of fire extinguishers and how to use them

• Reduce the risk of arson by fencing-off straw stacks and farm buildings

• Store hay and straw at least 10m from other buildings

• Put in place an evacuation plan for staff and livestock 

• Store petrol, diesel and other fuels in secure areas

• Schedule regular electrical safety checks 

• Invite your local fire and rescue service to visit to check water supplies and access routes

If a fire breaks out: 

• Call the Fire and Rescue Service without delay

• If possible, send someone to the farm entrance to direct the Fire and Rescue Service to the fire to help save time.

• Prepare to evacuate livestock should the fire spread 

• Prepare to use your farm machinery to assist the Fire and Rescue Service