The recent wet weather has meant that local farmers will potentially be making their grain dryers work overtime this harvest season.
Grain dryer fires are common in late summer, and can be very resource intensive for fire crews, due to the complexity of accessing the machinery.
Dorset & Wiltshire Fire and Rescue Service has issued the following simple tips to avoid the risk of fire:
- Get the drying equipment serviced on a regular basis by a competent engineer.
- Check thermostats, temperature settings and automatic shut-off devices, and always follow the manufacturer’s instructions.
- All surfaces on which dust, grain or other materials can collect should be cleaned out on a regular basis.
- Keep the area around the dryer clear of grain and other combustible material. Keep the air flow to the furnace free from dust, chaff and straw.
- Don’t leave plant running unattended for extended periods.
- ‘No smoking’ rules must be strictly enforced.
- Allow dried grain to cool to ambient temperature prior to any further processing or storage – this will reduce the chance of self-heating.
- Make sure that staff know how to isolate equipment and what to do in the event of a fire.
- Suitable fire extinguishers should be available to fight any fire (Class B rated for oil fired furnaces and CO2 for electrical equipment).
- Have the address, postcode and grid reference of the grain dryer location to hand, in case you need to call 999.
- Make a farm emergency plan to assist the emergency services – list the hazards, water supplies and access details.
Station Manager Graham Kewley said: “By following this advice, farmers can significantly reduce the risk of a fire happening in a grain dryer. Such fires cause a lot of disruption and can damage valuable crops, so taking a bit of time to clean out the machinery and keep it functioning is time well invested.”
For further guidance on farm fire safety, visit www.dwfire.org.uk/fire-risks-on-farms or call 01722 691717 and ask to speak to the Fire Safety Team or a Rural Safety Officer.