Home>Fire>Evacuation>“Cost of farm fires tops £95 million in 2021” reports NFU Mutual
Home>Fire>Risk Assessment>“Cost of farm fires tops £95 million in 2021” reports NFU Mutual
Home>Fire>Suppression>“Cost of farm fires tops £95 million in 2021” reports NFU Mutual

“Cost of farm fires tops £95 million in 2021” reports NFU Mutual

10 January 2023

INSURER NFU Mutual is urging farmers to be prepared and have fire control plans in place as the cost of farm fires reached £95.6 million in 2021. That represents a rise of £1.7 million. Electrical faults were the biggest known cause of blazes, while large-scale arson attacks perpetrated on farms shot up from £4.7 million in 2020 to £8.4 million in 2021.

The insure has found that the number of biomass boiler fires continued to increase. As many of these installations begin to age, NFU Mutual is urging individuals to carry out regular maintenance and safety-related checks.

In addition, the insurer has flagged that initial claims analysis suggests more large-scale arson incidents have taken place in 2022.

Andy Manson, head of risk management services at NFU Mutual, explained to Fire Safety Matters: “Farm fires put lives at risk as well as causing disruptive and devastating damage to farm businesses. Farmers should put fire prevention and control plans in place. They need to regularly review their fire risk assessment and act on the findings.”

Further, Manson urged: “Most fires are preventable. Carrying out routine maintenance and inspection on heating systems, electrical installations and machinery is a ‘must’, as is controlling hot works within farm workshops.”

Manson continued: “Implementing and maintaining good standards of housekeeping, particularly so around the storage of combustibles and flammables such as hay, straw and fuels, will also go a long way towards reducing the risk of a fire spreading.”

Frightening prospect

NFU Mutual’s rural affairs specialist Hannah Binns informed Fire Safety Matters: “We are very concerned about the rising cost of arson attacks, which is a frightening prospect considering that farms are not only farmers’ places of work, but very often the family home as well. We are urging everyone to be on their guard and to improve their security in order to help prevent their business from going up in smoke.”

Interestingly, NFU Mutual’s Risk Management Services division has outlined some key fire safety tips for those operating in the farming community. They centre on pre-planning, electrics, risk suppression, housekeeping and hot work.

People should be at the heart of the fire plan for any farm. It’s vital to ensure everyone on site knows what to do in the event of a fire. The biggest priority in the event of a fire is to evacuate everyone safely, including people working in or living around the premises, taking special care to assist any vulnerable persons.

As observed, electrical faults are a major cause of fire on farms, while electric shock can cause death or severe injury. DIY modifications, poor environmental conditions (such as wet, damp or acidic atmospheres), rodents, overloaded sockets and simple wear and tear are common causes of electrical fires on farms. Farmers should always determine to contract electrical work and inspections to a qualified and competent electrician.

Fire suppression systems are seen as a major game-changer for the farming sector and play a critical role in detecting, containing and extinguishing fires. Whether the focus is on a biomass boiler or a combine harvester working in hot and dry conditions, fire suppression systems can save lives and property.

Correct storage

Good housekeeping is absolutely essential to ensure materials and machinery are stored correctly and to eliminate dust and debris. The build-up of waste and materials not only adds to the fuel that can burn in a fire, but can also serve to block escape routes and cause trip hazards in an emergency.

Welding, cutting or grinding equipment, along with blow lamps and blow torches, can produce sparks which can turn into fires if they hit a combustible material. If such work cannot be conducted outside, it must be transacted in a clear and open area that’s distant from combustible materials (including combustible building structures). Anyone carrying out hot works at a farm should be subject to a strict ‘Permit to Work’ system.