DNR officials encourage farmers to get reacquainted with fire prevention practices to keep the farm ‘firewise’

Waterloo, IOWA – According to the state officials, this has been an extended drought year, particularly in the western part of the state. The following simple steps for a safer harvest can save time and money.  

State officials also said that you should check that all fire extinguishers carried on the machinery are fully charged with loose powder inside. If the powder is not loose, remove the extinguisher from its bracket then thump the canister with a rubber hammer until the powder moves when shaken. 

Make sure the size of the extinguisher is appropriate for the size of the machinery. You may need larger and/or additional extinguishers. Also make sure you have the correct extinguisher for the type of fire to be extinguished. There are two types of extinguishers, the powder extinguisher for electrical and petroleum-based fires and the water extinguisher for vegetative fires. You may need to carry both kinds of extinguishers.

Planning proper hay storage is crucial. Store hay away from combustibles such as gasoline, fertilizers and pesticides, as well as open burning areas like burn barrels, brush piles and vegetative burning. Arrange round bales in groups of 10 or fewer and place at least 100 feet away from structures. Leave 30 feet of mowed grass, bare ground or rock between the bale groups, creating a solid fire break.

Many hay fires occur by spontaneous combustion of moist hay, usually within six weeks after baling. Plan to bale hay at its driest stage and do not bale in the morning dew or too soon after a rain.

Check stored hay frequently for hot hay or an internal hay fire. Be aware of a caramel or strong burning odor, a visible vapor or smoke, a strong musty smell, and/or hay that is hot when touched. If any of these occur, call the fire department immediately and do not move the hay. Moving it exposes overheated or smoldering hay to oxygen, speeding the fire.

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