Fire safety is one of the most critical precautions a farm owner can take. Even a small blaze can quickly spread, fueled by hay and debris, eventually reaching your costly equipment and crops. This was the situation the proprietors of one Iowa farm had to contend with just this morning.
The fire, located in Vinton, started in a storage structure containing bales of hay and equipment. Because the bales were such a good fuel source, firefighters were reduced to trying to control the flames as well as possible while they waited for an excavator. Once the machine arrived, the hay was buried and the threat was eliminated.
Luckily, nobody was hurt in this fire, but there was significant damage to the tractors and other pieces of equipment that were near the source of the fire. This will no doubt be expensive for the owners of the vehicles.
The incident underscores the importance of taking every possible precaution to prevent the incidence and spread of fires. Here are five tips for ensuring that your property is as protected as possible:
- Store flammable materials properly: Hay, bedding materials, horse blankets, paint and fertilizer are all highly flammable materials that could serve as good sources of fuel for a blaze. Therefore, they should be stored safely away from accelerants and ignition sources. The former, which includes gasoline, kerosene, and oil, can increase the rate with which a fire spreads. The latter, like batters, heaters, and broken glass, can cause a spark that will create a fire in the first place. When all three come together, a major blaze is all but inevitable.
- Protect against lightning: If you are unsure of your level of protection, contact a professional. Buildings should be have copper or aluminum rods, and the entire system should be properly grounded. All pipes, water systems and electrical systems should be grounded as well, along with any telephone lines.
- Build with fire safety in mind: Take every measure possible to prevent and/or slow the spread of fire. These include installing fire doors, creating a fire wall between the hay/bedding storage area and the actual stalls and installing smoke detectors that will alert you if and when anything is amiss. Having a ready source of water available for firefighters to use can also help prevent flames from spreading and causing even more damage.
- Design electrical systems correctly: Your panel box should be resistant to corrosion, and any outlet boxes should be made of metal and be completely resistant to dust and water. These should all be placed in whichever area gets the least dust and moisture, which means stall areas are not recommended.
- Be careful: Even the best designed systems can be undone by human error. When working with or around flammable materials, be cautious. A single wayward cigarette could cause thousands of dollars in damage if not disposed of properly. Never work with open flames around highly flammable materials, and ensure that every person working on your land has been briefed in fire safety.
Even for those that are conscious of safety precautions, accidents occur. When they do happen, it's important to get your tractor back up and running as quickly as possible. To do so, visit our online database. Our wide range of vendors helps us ensure that we have a variety of options for every budget and need.