The risk of a fire breaking out within a farm or equestrian yard within the UK has steadily increased year after year. 2017-2018 looks to have received the highest number of fires with the NFU reporting an increase of 225% in the East of England alone. The most common causes of these include arson, electrical faults and heat. Combine harvesters can suffer from being overworked during the harvest season which can result in self-combustion, for example, if a piece of straw falls off the internal conveyor belt and catches light due to heat from the engine.
To try and help tackle the increase, equestrian and farming premises are being encouraged to install new sprinkler systems made from plastic. The system is similar to vehicle washer jets where it holds water within the pipes running along the roof of stable/livestock blocks which contains an antifreeze type solution to allow it to remain active even in the coldest of winters. Like other sprinkler systems, there is a glass filament which breaks once the heat from the fire has risen. Although this system sounds promising there is the potential for it to be incompatible with all stables/livestock barns such as those in more rural areas as the system requires a mains water supply.
The recently introduced system, having been subjected to half a decade of rigorous testing, is now available for yards from Equiprotect, known as the ANPRO Equestrian and Animal Fire Protection System. It may be that insurers try to encourage more yards to install the system by offering a reduction in premium thus helping to reduce both the client and insurers’ risk exposure.
In addition to this, farmers are being encouraged to implement a strategy to combat the risk of fire by developing plans of how to deal with an emergency so that everyone knows what is required of them should the situation arise. Ideally, the plan will incorporate arson reduction ideas, specific smoking areas, regular inspection/cleaning of machinery, particularly combines, and staff training. Although all of these may seem like common sense to have them in writing may help serve as a reminder.
There is the potential for the Government to look at implementing a similar system within farmer’s hay barns resulting in a reduction in risk of all stock being lost in a fire, subject to the success of the ANPRO sprinkler system.
Much of that rise was seen in the east of England, where crop fires contributed to a 225% rise in incidents compared with 2017. The cost to farm businesses in the east amounted to £11.1m, almost one-quarter of the UK’s total bill.