CLA’s warning to farmers to mitigate fire risk as dry spell continues

Firefighters tackle a straw stack fire in Horsford. Picture: Archant.

Firefighters tackle a straw stack fire in Horsford. Picture: Archant.

Archant Norfolk 2010

Farmers are being urged to consider the threat of fire to their business as the region’s hot, dry weather continues.

As hay and straw stacks begin appearing around Norfolk and Suffolk this month the risk of fires will increase. While some are deliberately started, the current dry spell heightens the risk of an accidental fire.

The Country Land and Business Association (CLA) says a blaze can cost a farming business thousands of pounds, as well as causing disruption to rural communities and motorists.

With the typical period for stack fires running from July to October, the organisation is reminding farmers of fire prevention measures to take.

CLA East rural surveyor Tim Woodward said: “Straw stack fires destroy important material used in arable and livestock farming as well as threatening buildings, livestock, machinery, and human lives,” he said.

“Deliberate fire-setting causes untold problems and the people involved do not give any thought to the consequences.

“The CLA urges farmers to not only follow the guidance on siting stacks offered by the police and fire service, but to also engage with the local community and ask them to report any suspicious activity on land near stacks to the police.”

Recommendations for stack siting include positioning them away from public roads and visible places, dividing up large stacks and placing them at least 10m apart.

Farmers are also advised to avoid stacking bales near buildings with livestock inside and to remove hay and straw from the field as soon as possible – or to block access routes if they must be left overnight.

Mr Woodward also warned against the use of sky lanterns by the general public.

“Releasing a naked flame with absolutely no control over where it will land is a serious threat to rural businesses, livestock, wildlife and the environment,” he said.

“People setting off sky lanterns may have no intent to cause fire but the consequences are the same, and they must accept responsibility for their actions.”

Of the 297 fires reported in Norfolk so far this year, 166 are considered to have been started deliberately.

Any information regarding suspicious activity should be reported to police by calling 101 – or 999 in an emergency.

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