Farmers and crofters are being urged to take precautions to protect their property as the number of fires in rural areas reached its peak last year.
Scottish Fire and Rescue Service (SFRS), in conjunction with NFU Scotland, earlier this year launched the rural risk survey to encourage farmers and crofters to inform SFRS of what they have on their properties, and map out any dangers.
By having a rural risk form completed, fire crews can work to prevent extensive damage in the event of a fire, but also prevent injury to the farmer, crofter, their family, workers and the fire crews.
Last year alone there were 343 fires on agricultural land.
Bucking the national trend, rural fires in Aberdeenshire have fallen for a second consecutive year. From a peak of 60 in 2013/14 they have fallen to 47 fires on farms and crofts between 1 April 2015 and 31 March 2016. Aberdeenshire still has the highest number of fires on agricultural land with Highlands (44) and Dumfries and Galloway (25) second and third.
The rural risk survey has now been rolled out to three areas of Scotland – South Lanarkshire, Dumfries and Galloway, and Highlands. It is hoped that resources will permit further expansion.
However, even if farmers and crofters are out with these areas, they are encouraged to contact their local fire station to inform them of what they hold on their farms and crofts in particular those who have silos.
Through the survey, farmers and crofters provide basic details, and are then contacted by SFRS who will come out to farm and map out a plan of the farm to pinpoint hazards including slurry, but also where livestock are kept, old buildings and the nearest water supply.
NFU Scotland’s President Allan Bowie commented
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 can on occasion be hard to find, this rural risk survey will assist in helping fire crews to reach the fire quicker and more easily and prevent wider damage.
We encourage farmers and crofters to take the time to contact the fire service to inform them of what you hold on your property, and to map out where the dangers are. By doing this, it could save your farm or croft if a fire was to ever occur.
Any precaution we can take to make our properties safer can only be a good thing. We are aware of how quickly a fire can spread, please take time to fill out the survey, and contact your local station.
Scott Kennedy of Scottish Fire and Rescue Service, commented
To date, we have carried out 60 visits to local farms in South Lanarkshire and Dumfries and Galloway to complete the rural risk information.
Scottish Fire and Rescue Service has now identified an opportunity to engage with the farming communities to effectively communicate a valuable safety message, not only for the benefit of farming communities themselves but also for the protection of fire crews from the associated dangers within farm premises.
We have a duty to serve and protect everyone within our community and we want to ensure that farms and crofts are given similar attention.
By gathering information from farmers and crofters of what they have on their property, we can provide more detailed fire safety advice. When responding to an incident, a more tactical response can also be delivered to bring incidents to positive outcomes with a significant reduction in the level of damage or loss sustained.
From experience of attending farm fires over the last 12 months, if we’d had the rural risk information to hand to allow the crews to be more familiar with the farm, it could have assisted in knowing what hazards there were but also where the closest water supplies were and the best way to access the farm.
Farmers can find more information and download the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service Rural Risk Form here.