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 Alberta Agriculture and Forestry.
It should include an evacuation plan, a list of numbers to call and mustering point. All farm family members and employees need to be aware of this plan and what it contains.
Metzger suggests limiting vehicle access into harvested fields, as 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, he says to always ensure safety first, everyone gets to a muster point and 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 it is 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, only 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.’
‘If you are absolutely sure of your safety and there is time, you can try and unhook any fuel powered or transport type machinery that is attached to other equipment or near other equipment. It can minimize or remove a fire fuel source accelerant, get it to a more contained or safer area and help prevent a fire from becoming far worse.’Source : alberta.ca