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Prevent arson on farms

Farms are particularly vulnerable to arson due to their often isolated locations, extensive open boundaries and the presence of readily ignitable hay and straw.  Whilst these vulnerabilities make it difficult to eliminate arson attacks on farms there are a number of measures that can be put in place to reduce that risk as outlined below.

Farm buildings

You can find information protecting farm buildings in these leaflets:

How To Reduce Opportunities To Start A Fire

How To Reduce The Spread Of A Fire

How To Deter Unauthorised Entry To Your Farm

How To Prevent Arson To Unused or Derelict Buildings

Emergency procedures

Prepare your farm for an emergency by ensuring that:

  • Notices are prominently displayed in and on all livestock buildings stating where the nearest phone is located just in case the person finding the fire does not have a mobile phone with them;
  • Each phone has fixed by it a notice giving instructions to the fire service on how to reach the building, including an Ordnance Survey map reference for both the farm entry and building location;
  • The farm name is prominently displayed at the farm entrance.

An adequate supply of water is essential and can save the fire service invaluable time. lf a fire hydrant or a natural supply of water is not available then DEFRA advise that:

  • A static tank should be located in a convenient position between 6 metres and 100 metres from the stock buildings;
  • It should be covered for safety, kept full of water and clear of debris;
  • A hard access will be necessary to enable the fire engine to get close to the water supply.

lf a fire does break out, you should:

  • Call the fire service without delay;
  • Give full details of what is on fire, particularly any hazardous substances involved (e.g. pesticides, fertiliser, gas cylinders);
  • Only attempt to fight the fire if it is safe to do so;
  • Send someone to the farm entrance to direct the fire service to the fire;
  • Prepare to evacuate livestock should the fire spread;
  • Prepare to use farm machinery to assist the fire service.

Grassland and standing crops

Standing crops and grassland can be vulnerable to arson attacks, especially during dry weather. To reduce the impact consider fire breaks in standing crops prior to harvesting and remove hay and straw from fields as soon as possible after harvesting. Store the hay and straw:

  • Separately from other buildings, particular those housing fuels, agrochemicals and machinery;
  • In stacks of reasonable size, spaced at least 10 metres apart;
  • Separately from livestock housing.

Fires can also be started accidentally in grassland and standing crops by visitors to the countryside, especially during dry weather. If you allow visitors onto your land advise them to:

  • Ensure all barbecues are properly supervised and do not allow the lighting of any open fires on the land;
  • Ensure cigarettes are extinguished carefully;
  • Only allow camping and picnicking in selected areas;
  • Provide litter bins for bottles and other rubbish and empty them regularly;
  • Ensure that parents supervise their children.

Dangerous materials

Petrol, diesel and other fuels should be stored in secure areas and storage tank outlets should be padlocked.

Fertilisers and pesticides should be kept in secure areas and under lock and key.

Refuse, especially combustible refuse, should be disposed of safely and on a regular basis.

Unoccupied areas should be regularly checked to ensure they are safe and secure and there is no unnecessary accumulation of combustible refuse or other combustible materials.

Regularly check and maintain open-water supplies that can be used for firefighting just in case a fire does occur.

Beds Fire


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