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Police issue fire safety warning following spike in arson attacks

 

Avon and Somerset Constabulary issue safety and prevention tips following a spike of suspected arson attacks on farms.


Alice   Singleton

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Alice   Singleton
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Devon and Somerset Fire and Rescue recommend having an animal evacuation plan in case of a fire
Devon and Somerset Fire and Rescue recommend having an animal evacuation plan in case of a fire

Investigations on a number of barn fires in Somerset have concluded the incidents were deliberate acts of arson.

 

Devon and Somerset Fire and Rescue and Avon and Somerset Constabulary are working together to continue investigations into various incidents over the last few weeks.

 

Chief inspector Mark Edgington, local policing commander for East Somerset, said: “We take incidents of arson extremely seriously.

 

"They have huge financial implications for farmers in addition to the enormous danger they pose to people and livestock.

 

"We will work with our partners to identify those responsible and they will be dealt with robustly."

 

Incidents

But arson is not only an issue in the South West of the country.

 

Last week, ten calves were killed in a suspected arson attack in the West Midlands, with two fires on the same land in less than 24 hours.

 

Yesterday (August 22) a fire broke out at a farm in Churcham, Gloucester.

 

A spokesman from Gloucestershire fire and rescue team said "The fire is in a large barn which is full of straw, as well as 3 or 4 containers (assume metal shipping containers), cars, and farm machinery, including two combine harvesters."

 

Risk

 

Devon and Somerset Fire and Rescue has provided a list of ways to help minimise the risk of fire on your farm.

 

Fire investigation officer, Andy Justice from Devon and Somerset Fire and Rescue said: “A fire on a farm can be devastating; resulting in the loss of machinery, stores of hay and straw, livestock and the destruction of buildings.

 

"Every year Devon & Somerset Fire & Rescue Service attend hundreds of fires and emergency incidents on farms and small holdings and a serious fire on a farm can affect the financial stability of even the most well run business.

 

"Farms are particularly vulnerable to a deliberate fire due to their isolated locations, open boundaries and readily ignitable hay and straw stacks.

 

"However, by considering the following steps you can minimise the risk of fire on your farm."

 


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Top tips to minimise the risk of fire

  • Ensure machinery is well maintained and serviced regularly – clean machinery regularly to keep it free from hay, straw, oil and grease
  • Remove hay and straw from fields as soon as possible after harvesting. Ensure it is dry before storing to prevent spontaneous combustion – many fires are caused by storing damp or wet hay
  • Store hay and straw away from other buildings especially those containing fuels or chemicals and separate from livestock. Store in stacks at least 10 metres apart and ensure there is sufficient space between the top of the stack and the roof lighting
  • Only carry out hot work, i.e. welding or grinding, in clear areas
  • Electrical safety checks should be carried out regularly, especially in areas where straw or hay is stored
  • Ensure any fuels, chemicals and hazardous materials are stored in clearly labelled containers. They should be locked away in locations away from other buildings
  • Have designated areas for smoking away from combustible materials and ensure cigarettes and matches are extinguished properly
  • Keep escape routes clear at all times and keep all areas free from rubbish, oily cloths and other combustible materials
  • Ensure that your family and employees know what to do in the event of a fire; make sure everyone knows where the nearest phone is. Carry a mobile phone at all times, especially if working alone
  • Keep firefighting equipment in good working order and ensure it is serviced regularly. Ensure it can be accessed easily at all times and that everyone is aware where it is located
  • Make sure that the entrance to your farm is clearly sign posted and keep all access routes clear for emergency vehicles.

Do you have an animal evacuation plan?

Make sure you have an animal evacuation plan for your livestock in the event of a fire.


A survey of your farm may reveal the need to:

 

  • Provide, repair or replace damaged fencing or gates.
  • Install intruder sensors and security lighting.
  • Maintain security of outbuildings.
  • Replace or re-site security and warning notices.
  • Maintain firefighting equipment in good order.

If you have any information regarding these incidents:

  • You can call Avon and Somerset Police on the 101 number or alternatively you can call Crimestoppers on 0800 555111.
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