Mid and West Wales Fire and Rescue Service is issuing a farm fire safety reminder following a recent increase in the number of barn fire incidents requiring attendance by its crews.
Mid and West Wales Fire and Rescue Service’s (MAWWFRS) area is home to a tapestry of rural and agricultural communities and the Service has recently experienced an increased number of barn fire incidents requiring attendance by its crews.
This increase could be partly due to the early warm and dry weather conditions during May and June which has provided earlier hay-making opportunities.
Each year in the UK on average around 1,600 farm buildings and 85,000 areas of grassland are destroyed by fire.
MAWWFRS is issuing a farm fire safety reminder and advice to members of the farming communities within its Service area in an effort to reduce the likelihood of further barn fires:
• Stored bales must not have a moisture content greater than 22 per cent
Bales that have a moisture content of 22 per cent or higher pose a risk of increasing in heat once stacked, leading to overheating and possible spontaneous combustion.
• Baled hay, straw and bracken should have a moisture content of between 18-20 per cent before being stacked in storage.
• The temperature of bales should be below 35°C before being brought off the field for storage.
Bales with a temperature above 35°C can maintain their own heat generation to a point where spontaneous combustion can occur.
• Bale Storage Advice
Where possible, stacks should be sited separately, away from other farm buildings, especially livestock buildings. Keep stacks to a reasonable size, well apart and dry. Avoid storing fertilisers, chemicals, gas cylinders, tractors and other machinery in barns containing bales. Ensure that all electrical equipment and wiring is well-maintained.
• If bales are smouldering or on fire call 999 immediately.
• Signs of bales overheating
Signs of bales overheating may include discolouration or browning in some areas, stacks seen to be ‘steaming’ early in the morning or late evening, the presence of a sweet, sickly smell and hay turning to a tobacco-like form.