Fire prevention and control on pig farms

While there is always a risk of fire, it is much greater during periods of prolonged high temperatures and dry conditions. Below are some useful tips for fire prevention and what to do if a fire breaks out.

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 and know where the assembly point is
  • 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 firebreak on the edge of the field
  • Ensure the fire engine and firefighting machinery are not in the path of the fire
  • Turn the electricity off, if safe to do so
  • Be aware that opening 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

Taking care of people

  • Ensure that at least one member of staff can 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 you need to create a firebreak around the field or perimeter of your unit (this might involve 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 case of fire (you could also use a slurry tanker)
  • Regularly check and maintain open-water supplies that 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)
    • In easily accessible locations

Further information

More information on fire control can be found via the National Animal Disease Information Service (NADIS) and the NFU. 

NADIS: Fires on the pig farm

NFU: Preventing farm fires