Farm buildings and equipment are at greater risk of fires during hot, dry weather. “Dust — from fresh hay, grains and other crops — that gets into shops and barns and on equipment can create a fire hazard,” said Jimmy Maass, safety coordinator for Virginia Farm Bureau.
“It’s very important that farmers and others who work outdoors take note of potential fire hazards and work to correct any problems.” Fire extinguishers should be kept by the door of all buildings, including barns, shops and garages. A fully charged water fire extinguisher should be kept on hay balers, and a dry chemical fire extinguisher is appropriate on tractors and other equipment.
Check all electrical wiring in farm buildings, examining the wires for frays, cuts or nicks. Make sure all outdoor electrical outlets are ground fault circuit interrupter types. Examine breaker boxes to ensure they have adequate breakers for the load, and “don’t take shortcuts with electrical components,” Maass said.
Store flammable liquids in clearly marked safety cans — red for gasoline, blue for kerosene and yellow for diesel. Keep containers in a flammable liquids cabinet that is properly ventilated. Clean up debris such as trash or sawdust and flammable chemicals such as gasoline, oil and paint. Excess loose hay should be removed from hay barns, Maass said.
In addition, “it’s important to keep all equipment clean and free of dust, dirt and debris. While wearing safety glasses, use compressed air or a leaf blower to clean equipment off periodically,” Maass said. Also, check bearings to make sure they are not overheating and make sure all belts are in good condition and properly tensioned.