Royal Berkshire Fire and Rescue Service (RBFRS) is asking farmers to take extra care this summer to help reduce the risk of a fire breaking out on their farm.
Between April 2022 and March 2023, RBFRS responded to almost 1,000 outdoor fires across the County and extended periods of dry, hot weather significantly increase the risk of fires in the open breaking out. In July and August 2022, during last summer’s heatwaves, the Service responded to a total of 564 fires in the open.
While this year has not yet seen the same extreme conditions so far, the risk of agricultural fires remain significantly higher at this time of year.
Steve Leonard, Group Manager, said: “As the harvest period begins, we want to remind farmers to be mindful of the risk of fire to keep themselves, their property and their livelihood safe.
“Taking extra care to maintain equipment, installing firebreaks and safely storing your produce are all small steps that can significantly reduce the risk of a fire starting on your farm”
Follow these tips to help reduce the risk of an agricultural fire starting:
- Ensure regular maintenance – Check that your equipment is clean and maintained before every harvest activity.
- Help us find you in an emergency – Provide an accurate location and description of the entrance of your farm to Thames Valley Fire Control Service and wait for firefighters to arrive. They will then ask you to guide them to the scene of the incident.
- Know where your water supplies are – Ensure that any available water supplies on your farm are accessible to firefighters.
- Consider using cultivators to put in fire breaks where safe to do so.
- If you have water bowsers available to extinguish spot fires, ensure that they are near and full of water.
- Store safe – Where possible avoid storing bales near main roads to deter would-be trespassers and arsonists. Store pesticides and fertilisers securely and remember it’s critical to let us know if these products are involved in a fire due to the specific risks they pose.
- Check conditions and consult the Fire Severity Index before planning harvesting activities. You can view the Fire Severity Index by visiting the Met Office’s website.
If a fire does start, get out, stay out and call 999. For more information on agricultural fire safety, please visit our website.