Essex County Fire and Rescue Service

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Farm Arson Prevention Advice

Every year in the UK 1,700 farm buildings and 66,000 areas of grassland are destroyed by fire. Fifty percent of these fires are started deliberately, either as an act of mindless vandalism or a fraudulent insurance claim.

A serious fire on a farm can affect the financial stability of even the most well run business. Forty percent of businesses that suffer arson attacks never trade successfully again. Farms are particularly vulnerable to arson, their isolated location, open boundaries and readily ignitable hay and straw make them an easy target.

Whilst arson attacks on farms and small holdings may be difficult to eliminate, a number of simple precautions can substantially reduce the risk of arson.

Checklist

Hay and straw should be removed from fields as soon as possible after harvesting.

  • Hay and straw should be stored:
    • separate from other buildings, particularly those housing fuels, agrochemicals and machinery.
    • in stacks of reasonable size, spaced at least 10 metres apart.
    • separate from livestock housing.
  • Petrol, diesel and other fuels should be stored in secure areas and storage tank outlets should be padlocked.
  • Fertilisers and pesticides should be kept under lock and key.
  • Refuse should be disposed of safely and on a regular basis.

Areas to look out for

  • Provide, repair or replace damaged fencing or gates.
  • Install intruder sensors and security lighting.
  • Maintain the security of outbuildings.
  • Replace or re-site security and warning notices.
  • Maintain fire fighting equipment and check that it is in good order.
  • Dogs and geese can give effective early warning of intruders, however guard dogs must not be allowed to roam freely.
  • Prepare a fire routine and action plan and make sure all farm workers know what to do.

Preventing Fires in Grassland and Standing Crops

  • Don't allow the lighting of open fires or barbecues.
  • Ensure cigarettes are extinguished carefully.
  • Only allow camping and picnicking in monitored areas.
  • Provide litter receptacles for bottles and other rubbish - empty them regularly.
  • Ask parents to supervise children.
  • Regularly check and maintain open water supplies for fire fighting.
  • Ensure 'Fire Danger' warning signs are in place.

If a Fire Breaks Out

  • Call Fire & Rescue without delay.
  • Only attempt to fight the fire if it is safe to do so.
  • Send someone to the farm entrance to give directions.
  • Prepare to evacuate livestock should the fire spread.
  • Prepare any farm machinery to assist Fire & Rescue.
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