Staffordshire Fire and Rescue Service is urging farmers to review their fire safety following recent unseasonal barn fires.
The call comes in the wake of fires in barns in the Hilderstone and Cheddleton areas which happened over the last two weeks.
Fire Safety Lead, Matt White advises farmers storing hay in barns to ensure they have done everything they can to keep their buildings safe from the risk of fire.
“A barn fire can have a devastating effect upon a farm. Hay is highly combustible so if it catches fire it will burn very easily and can spread quickly.
“Barns full of hay are the perfect environment for a prolonged blaze. The hay acts as fuel for the fire and it will continue to feed it. At times the safest tactic to employ is a controlled burn. This is where firefighters concentrate on preventing the fire from spreading rather than extinguishing it until enough of the hay has burned off and it becomes safe to tackle the fire.”
Fire officers have joined forces with the national Farmers Union (NFU) to get the message to farmers about fire prevention.
Jeremy Lowe, NFU Staffordshire adviser, said:
“Farm fires are lethal, they put farmers and their stock at great risk as well as destroying buildings, feedstuffs and machinery.
“Any fire, deliberate or accidental, can bring a farm business to a standstill – causing many thousands of pounds worth of damage and leaving a huge clear up operation.
“The NFU and our members work closely with the fire service, police and other authorities and the right guidance is vital, in case farmers are in the awful position of having a blaze at their business.
“Some fires can be avoided and we would urge members to consider fire service advice and put practical measures in place on farm to reduce the risk.”
CAUSE OF LARGE FARM FIRE BELIEVED TO BE DELIBERATE
Staffordshire Fire and Rescue Service has said the cause of the large scale fire in Cheddleton is believed to be deliberate.
The Service was called to Basford Bridge Farm at 8.32pm on Tuesday, October 30, after reports of a large scale fire in one of the agricultural buildings.
At the height of the incident eight crews were in attendance and had to split the area into three sectors in order to tackle the fire, which involved a 40metre by 30metre building full of hay. They used several main jets and a high volume pump to put out the flames whilst machinery was used to remove some of the straw. The firefighters, with the help of the occupier, continued to remove the hay and damp down hot spots through to Thursday, (November 1).
The blaze caused disruption to the local area with Basford Bridge Lane closed to through traffic for the duration of the operation.
Following a fire investigation the incident is being treated as deliberate and the Service is liaising with Staffordshire Police.
Fire Investigation Officer Kelvin Knapper said:
“We believe this incident was caused deliberately which is extremely worrying and disappointing. Fortunately no one was hurt during the fire and no animals on the site were injured either.
“This fire has taken up considerable time and resources and has no doubt been distressing for the owner. The Service was at this farm for around three days and several crews were needed to tackle the blaze. These resources could have been used elsewhere to help others in trouble which is why the fact it appears to be a deliberate incident is frustrating for everyone at SFRS.
“We try to educate people of the dangers of setting fires as they can easily lead to injury or death. Anyone starting fires could face five years in prison or a £5,000 fine.
“Please keep an eye out for any fire starters in your area and don’t hesitate to call the police if you see anything suspicious. If you think someone may have set a fire please call the fire service.”