With warmer weather on the horizon, it is worth turning our minds to fire risk. A large Agriculture client experienced a fire on their property last summer. The fire burnt approximately 30 hectares of farmland and fencing. Thankfully, in no small part due to the intervention of emergency services, no one was injured and property losses were minimised. However, the telling point is that the fire was entirely preventable.
Ignition and initial containment efforts
The fire broke out when an angle grinder was being used to repair and replace metal plates in a trailer. The angle grinder was being used on an extreme fire day, in an area where sparks from the grinder could readily ignite surrounding grasses. Once the fire had started, initial attempts to contain the fire were limited to hand ‘stomping’ the fire and the use of a garden hose. These measures proved inadequate.
The situation escalated as strong northerly winds spread the flames close to nearby farming sheds. Fortunately, fire procedures to protect the sheds were in place to prevent their loss.
Emergency services response
Emergency services were called as the fire gathered momentum and travelled north approximately 250 metres from the ignition point. Within 30 minutes, the fire had moved rapidly and was now out of control.
Emergency services arrived and immediately called for backup. The fire had reached a large expanse of the property and required in multiple fire trucks, graders, loaders, four helicopters and four firebombing planes to actively fight the fire. After an hour of intense firefighting, the fire was contained with larger flare ups being bombed by helicopters and planes and land-based vehicles putting out smaller flare ups.
This entirely preventable fire consumed a significant amount of emergency services resources.
So what should we learn?
Top Tips for preventing fire on your property:
- Adhere to the current bush fire warnings and danger level and make sure you have a fire procedure in place.
- Make sure you have a hot work permit – permit system for works with angle grinding on premises ensure your personnel are properly trained to minimise potential risks.
- Apply safety standards for the use of hot works equipment – works should be conducted in areas:
- Ensure rubbish, pallets etc are removed from the proximity of buildings as they can be sources of ignition.
- By appropriately trained and permitted personnel
- With adequate fire suppression resources available in the unlikely event a fire starts.
Maintain the height of grass and potential ignition sources around buildings
Our team of Insurance Brokers specialise in complex risk management. If you would like to talk to someone about your fire risk or request a quote for your property, please contact us on (03) 9021 7700 today.