Drought - fire prevention

Fire prevention and control

While there is always a risk of fires breaking out on farm, the risk is much greater during periods of prolonged high temperatures and dry conditions.

Below are some useful pointers and timely reminders for preventing and managing fires on farms.


  • Ensure that at least one member of staff is able to take action and coordinate other staff in the event of a fire
  • Employees must be informed of where all the fire extinguishers are kept
  • Keep the grid references for your fields somewhere handy to give to the fire service in the event of a fire
  • Find out who your local fire officer is, they may be able to visit to check access and water supply
  • You may wish to provide out-of-hours contact details on the farm gate
  • Create an animal evacuation plan if you don’t already have one

Combustible materials

  • Store hay and straw in buildings as far away from livestock as possible
  • Regularly cut grass verges and vegetation growing around farm buildings
  • Be aware of prevailing wind, ensure machinery is not parked in the path of a potential fire

Machinery and equipment

  • Have a tractor and cultivating equipment on standby should a fire break need to be created around the field or perimeter of your unit (this could be a neighbour)
  • Ensure there are no fuel or oil leaks on equipment
  • Ensure all electrical equipment is maintained
  • Ensure heat lamps cannot be dislodged by sows, a metal cage around the shade can prevent a hot bulb dropping onto flammable materials

Water and fire extinguishers

  • Keep a full water bowser or tank next to buildings and in fields if harvesting and provide extra tanks on outdoor pig units in the case of fire (you could also use a slurry tanker)
  • Regularly check and maintain open water supplies which could be used for firefighting
  • Ensure fire extinguishers are:
    • Fit for purpose
    • Kept in vehicles that will be used during the hot weather (this could be the farm truck or gator used to check stock if machinery isn’t used)
    • Kept in easily-accessible locations


Information and advice on wildfires and how to implement effective firebreaks are outlined by The National Fire Chief Council. As the recommendations outline that a considerable amount of land is required to be cleared to achieve firebreaks/fuel breaks (2.5 x the flame height), the cost of such actions through loss of yield is likely to outweigh the risk of fire.

AHDB advises levy payers take out insurance against fire damage and to consider fire mitigation plans in areas identified at risk on the Fire Severity Index. Although, consideration should be taken for the increased erosion rates and flood risk to exposed soil in firebreaks/fuel breaks.

We have seen levy payers implement the following measures

  • Strategically placing water bowsers or water tankers on their land
  • Fitting bowsers with fire hose adaptors
  • Using location apps to accurately direct emergency services to access points/gates to reach fires

In the event of a fire

  • In the event of a fire call 999 immediately, do not try to put the fire out on your own
  • Ensure all members of staff are on one side of the fire
  • Do not re-enter a burning building, it will be much more dangerous the second time
  • In the event of a fire on a neighbouring farm or field, you may wish to temporarily move your hay and straw stacks and create a fire break on the edge of the field
  • Ensure the fire engine and machinery intended to firefight are not in the path of the fire
  • Turn the electricity off if safe to do so
  • Be aware that opening the doors may encourage fire to spread
  • Ensure nothing is blocking the entrance for the fire service
  • If pigs are in the building, they will be reluctant to move