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Hay Fires

August 19, 2010

Every farmers’ nightmare, a fire in the barn and one of the known fire starters is hay.    Now is the time to think about your hay temperatures as it  is coming off the fields and  into the barns .  Vermont AgrAbility members George Cook and Gail Lapierre are also  members of the Vermont Barn Fire Prevention Taskforce.   As a group, the Task Force has  developed a number of resources  that deal with barn fires and specifically HAY FIRES.   Fire extinguisher Selection  and Fire Safety reminders  are download-able PDF’s  that you can click and print off and can give to your favorite farmer who may not have internet. 

Hay Fires are nasty, nasty, nasty  and can start when the hay in a bale or pile reaches a combustible temperature.  Here is a hay fire video that gives a good overview of the process, the moisture of the hay and the three factors that lead to combustion.   The bottom line is this,  newly cut and stacked hay should be monitored, meaning that temperatures should be taken of the hay, twice as day for 6 weeks.  

2 times a day for 6 weeks.  

That is a total of 84 times.  Sounds like a lot of checking, but if you lose your barn, or your home or your livestock from a barn fire, those 84 times would not seem like an awful lot.   There are other signs too.  A slight caramel or strong burning order, visible vapor or smoke, a strong musty smell, and/or hay that feels hot to the touch.   If you detect any of these signs call the fire department immediately.   

Barn fires can be prevented but it takes intent on your part.  We can give you the nudge, but you gotta take the time to do the checking.  Hope this is the nudge you need to keep it safe.

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