Dealing with harvest farm fires


Source: Alberta Agriculture and Forestry

A farm emergency plan is the first step when dealing with the risk of fires during harvest.

“This plan needs to detail what happens on the farm should a fire start,” says Blaine Metzger, project technologist manager at the Farm Stewardship Centre. “This includes an evacuation plan, a list of numbers to call, and mustering point. It’s vital all farm family members and employees are aware of this plan and what it contains.”

“You should also limit vehicle access into harvested fields. Trucks can easily start fires when crossing fields especially in tall stubble. If limiting access isn’t realistic, you can at least cut a pathway on your first harvesting round for vehicles to use, especially where they might park.”

If a fire does break out, Metzger says to always ensure safety first. “Everyone needs to get out of the fire area to a muster point and to make sure 911 has been called. If there is a water source nearby, such as a pumping truck or tank with a pumping system, you can try and contain the fire if safe to do so. If you have a tillage unit available you can also try and till ahead of the fire to create a fire break, again, if it’s safe. Of course, make sure you don’t drive through the fire.”

Metzger adds that tilling a fire break around a field is the first preventative measure in a high risk area. “It can help keep a fire from spreading or at least slow it down. However, any tilling at any time can create other issues.”

He says to be aware of your surroundings in a fire. “If there’s a dugout or creek, you may be able to set up a pumping system there with a long hose you can use as a fire extinguisher. And, if absolutely sure of your safety, and there is time, you can try and unhook your equipment, such as a fuel tank on your tractor, so that it doesn’t catch fire and make things far worse.”


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