Farm Safety Check: Preventing Building Fires

Farm Safety Check: Preventing Building Fires

Photo Credit: Eric Mclean from Unsplash


Fires pose serious threats to the wellbeing of livestock and humans.

Farms have many flammable materials, such as hay, straw, pesticides, fertilizer, cobwebs, dust, bedding, and paper. Seasonal threats such as hot, dry weather and hay storage in the summer and heating equipment, damaged cords, rodent bedding, and windy conditions in the winter increase the risk of fire. Given these farm hazards, prevention is key.

Take a moment today to save a life tomorrow.

Reviewed by: Kyle Koshalek from National Farm Medicine Center and Pittsville Fire Company Chief Jerry Minor


Disclaimer: Don’t forget to wear a mask and follow all social distancing practices in the applicable situations below.

  • Are flammable and combustible liquids in labeled containers (Underwriters Laboratories or Factory Mutual approved cans for gasoline)? Note the quantity, date purchased, and type of liquid. These should be placed in appropriate safety cabinets with a warning sign.
  • Are flammable materials kept away from machinery, heating sources, and electrical equipment?
  • Do you check the internal temperature of hay bales daily? Bales should be in groups of 10 or fewer, at least 100 feet away from structures, and with a fire break of at least 30 feet between the groups.
  • Are used oil rags stored in a properly sealed container and away from heat sources?
  • Do you refuel outside and when machinery has cooled?
  • Do you immediately clean up spilled flammable liquids?
  • Are engines lubricated and exhaust systems properly maintained to prevent sparking and backfiring?
  • Is wiring free of damage and unexposed? Repair bent plugs and frayed cords. Wrap wires in corrosion-resistant metal conduit pipes.
  • Are extension cords rated for outdoor use and used for only temporary purposes?
  • Do you unplug appliances not in use?
  • Are up-to-date class ABC fire extinguishers in every building?
  • Are electrical outlets, electrical panels, fans, and lights clean and free of debris?
  • Does everyone regularly practice fire drills, including how to use a fire extinguisher?
  • Are there at least two marked exits in each building, a fire hose and bucket, and cleared pathways? Is good ventilation maintained?
  • Have workers received proper training for emergencies? Are regular fire drills conducted?
  • Is the yard clear of debris so fire apparatus can fit down the driveway and set up? A driveway width of 12 – 14 feet is preferred.
  • Have you invited your local fire department out to your farm for a virtual fire safety “tour”?
  • Is smoking restricted to designated areas only?
  • Are there fully functioning smoke detectors and/or sprinklers located inside livestock buildings and buildings with flammable material?
  • Are heat lamps securely placed, clean, and in good repair?
  • Is a properly maintained rodent control program in place?

You and/or your employee(s) can download and print a pdf checklist to complete safety checks on your farm. Keep the completed forms for follow-up, future reference and inspections.


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