Farm checklist against fire

From making a fire plan to proper disposal of oily rags, KAP’s Manitoba Farm Safety Program has some tips on what producers can do to limit fire risk

A home narrowly escapes a grassfire near Carberry April 1.

The Manitoba Farm Safety Program is reminding farmers of their own on-farm fire risk management.

Manitoba’s dry conditions have led to a rash of grassfires since the start of April, including one that menaced a housing sub-division near Carberry and several fires in the southeast and central Manitoba.

Dry conditions have also led to widespread burn bans across the province.

According to Thea Green, farm safety program manager, producers should consider the following to both limit their risk of sparking a fire, and to be ready to fight one:

  • Have a plan. Discuss and establish roles in the case of a fire.
  • Post your farm location information next to all landlines and inside equipment to make it easy for all farm staff to call for help in the event of an emergency and let 911 know where to send help.
  • Think about whether livestock could be evacuated from corrals/pasture in the event of encroaching wildfire. How could that be done, where could you move them to, etc.?
  • Have tillage equipment ready to go; in the event of a fire you can use tillage equipment to create a fire break with no flammable materials present which can stop the spread of a fire.
  • Ensure there is a working fire extinguisher in every farm building and every farm vehicle. Get trained on how to use these to fight small fires and ensure staff receive training.
  • Before planning to burn anything (including lighting burn barrels, etc.) check the Municipal Burning Restrictions Map to ascertain if burning in your area is allowed.
  • If burning is allowed and required for farm activities, have buckets of water on hand and ensure the fire is safely contained within a structure to prevent accidental fires.
  • If performing hot work (welding, angle grinding, metal cutting, etc.) ensure that the surround area is free of flammables and damp down surrounding area.  Have a ready supply of water available in case sparks ignite something and perform a good “Fire Watch” repeatedly for several hours after the work has been completed.
  • Keep vegetation as short as possible in yards, near buildings and around houses to help prevent wildfire encroaching into the yard area. Mow any tall dead/dried grasses in machinery storage areas and yards to decrease the risk of fires that can start when machinery backfires.
  • Avoid riding ATV’s in long dry grasses where vegetation has little moisture (for example, when pasture checking).
  • Ensure equipment is well maintained. Faulty or worn bearings and belts frequently heat up and cause fires.
  • Pressure wash off all equipment before first use to remove grease/oil/crop residue, etc.  Then frequently remove any accumulated dry matter with an air compressor. Ensure that there is no accumulation of flammable debris around vehicle exhaust systems.
  • If you have a water tank on a trailer or truck, fill it now so that it is readily available in the event of fire. Plan ahead for how you would put a fire out on your farm property. If the fire truck needs a source of water, what is available and is it accessible? Are your hoses ready to go to wet your house or the area around the farmyard and buildings?
  • Dispose of oily rags properly, in a lidded container so they don’t have a source of oxygen, to avoid spontaneous combustion.
  • Limit smoking to areas of the farm that have proper disposal in place.
  • Remove flammable items from public areas (example- straw bales stored next to a public roadway) to decrease the likelihood of arson fires.

Information provided by the Manitoba Farm Safety Program, through the Keystone Agricultural Producers.

About the author

Reporter

Alexis Stockford

Alexis Stockford is a journalist and photographer with the Manitoba Co-operator. She previously reported with the Morden Times and was news editor of  campus newspaper, The Omega, at Thompson Rivers University in Kamloops, BC. She grew up on a mixed farm near Miami, Man.

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