Fire safety education is critical when you are working in an agricultural setting. Farms are unique environments, which means they have their own unique hazards. Fire is a definite enemy on the farm – one that could change many people’s lives in an instant. It is very important to know what the fire hazards on your job site are, how to prevent fires, and what to do if there is a fire.
Farm Fire Hazards
As mentioned above, the fire hazards on a farm can be quite unique to the industry because a farm is like its own distinctive ecosystem. There are not only natural combustible materials, but also chemicals, machinery, livestock, debris, vehicles… the list is extensive. Let’s look at some of the most typical fire hazards you will come across in this setting.
- Hay, straw, grass
- Gasoline, kerosene, oil
- Paint, chemicals
- Grain dust
- Wooden buildings
- General debris
- Electrical fixtures/panels
- Sparks from machinery and welding
- Cigarettes, matches
As you can see above, the list is long, and a fire in any capacity on a farm can quickly become a catastrophe.
With so many fire hazards, there is are quite a few steps to take to ensure safety of not only you, but also animals on the farm. Luckily, once a safety protocol is in place and process are followed, the likelihood of incidents lessens significantly. But because a farm is an entity that continuously ebbs and flows, these protocols should be reviewed frequently, and processes practiced methodically.
Here are some things you can do to help prevent fire-related incidents:
- Create a fire-safety plan, and have regular fire drills for all employees.
- Make sure your new and young employees are educated about fire safety before they start work, and that your other employees are still following procedures set in place.
- Always clear trash and debris from around buildings, and make sure it is in a designated place away from any sources of ignition.
- Keep grass and weeds low around buildings, especially the barn area, and have any manure piles at least 20ft away from the barn.
- Keep walkways and aisles clean in the barn, and don’t store flammable substances there.
- Ensure any designated smoking areas are well away from the barn, and that there are proper disposal methods available for ashes, butts and matches.
- Clean dust and cobwebs from electrical and light fixtures regularly.
- Keep electrical panels clean and free from moisture, and ensure adequate ventilation inside of buildings.
- Do not store vehicles or machinery in the barn, and refuel outside.
- Move heat lamps and heaters away from hay and straw, and don’t use extension cords or ungrounded appliances.
- Check wires for damage on a regular basis, and make sure they are not frayed or damaged by rodents.
- Install lightning rods on main buildings.
Following these tips can help keep from becoming realities, but fires can still happen, and do major damage if you’re not prepared.
In Case of Fire
Make sure there is a firehose and bucket inside your barn, kept near the water source. Also, have all class fire extinguishers in all buildings, and have them hanging near exterior doorways. Extinguishers should always be recharged. If you have long aisles in your buildings, keep the clean and have extinguishers hanging in the middle of the aisles as well, and have clear signage for them.
Practice fire drills regularly, with all employees in attendance, and educate them on the P.A.S.S. Method for fire extinguishers (Pull, Aim, Squeeze, Sweep – pictured below).
Staying vigilant with fire safety will help prevent accidents and loss of life on the farm. Remember, no job is worth getting injured or worse! Register for our free farm safety course today.