Simple route in bid to reverse rise in farm fires

There were 343 recorded farm fires in the year to March. Picture: Michael GillenThere were 343 recorded farm fires in the year to March. Picture: Michael Gillen
There were 343 recorded farm fires in the year to March. Picture: Michael Gillen

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An increase in the number of on-farm fires to a new five-year high in Scotland has seen the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service (SFRS) linking up with NFU Scotland to encourage farmers to be more aware of such a danger.

In the 12 months up to the end of March, SFRS recorded 343 fires on agricultural land, with Aberdeenshire (47), Highlands (44) and Dumfries and Galloway (25) being the hot spots.

A pilot scheme earlier this year saw a rural risk survey being carried out on a number of farms. This encouraged farmers and crofters to inform SFRS what they had on their properties, as well as mapping out any problem or high risk areas.

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By having such a rural risk form, fire crews were able not only to prevent extensive damage in the event of a fire, but also prevent injury. The pilot scheme has been so successful that it is now being rolled out to three areas of Scotland – South Lanarkshire, Dumfries and Galloway, and Highlands.

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The hope is to extend the scheme beyond these areas, but SFRS said if farmers and crofters out-with these areas were keen to be proactive, they should contact their local fire station to inform them of what they hold on their farms.

In practical terms, the scheme sees farmers provide basic details of their premises. These are then followed up by the SFRS who come out to map out a plan of the farm pinpointing hazardous areas including slurry, but also where livestock are kept, old buildings and the nearest water supply.

Union president Allan Bowie said: “A fire on a farm or croft can be devastating and it is worrying to see that incidents are at their peak since 2010.

“With farms and crofts often in remote areas, and occasionally, hard to find, this rural risk survey will assist in helping fire crews to reach the fire quicker and more easily preventing wider damage. Please take time to fill out the survey, and contact your local station.”

Scott Kennedy of SFRS said: “To date, we have carried out 60 visits to farms to complete the rural risk information.

“From experience of farm fires over the last 12 months, if we’d had the rural risk information to hand, it could have assisted in knowing what hazards there were and where the closest water supplies were.”