Rural farm fires in Scotland at a five-year high

Farmers and crofters are encouraged to contact the fire service to highlight potential danger zones as the number of fires in rural areas reached its peak.

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Farmers and crofters have been urged to take precautions to protect their property after the number of fires in rural Scotland reached its peak last year.

There were a record 343 fires on agricultural land in 2015/16.

Most fires were reported in Aberdeenshire, Highlands and Dumfries and Galloway.

Earlier this year the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service (SFRS) and NFU Scotland launched a rural risk survey to help map out any dangers on farming property.

The survey now includes South Lanarkshire, Dumfries and Galloway, and Highlands, with the hope of extending to further areas in the future.

NFU Scotland’s president Allan Bowie said: “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.”

The NFU encouraged farmers and crofters to ‘take the time’ to inform the fire services of their property details and a map of any potential dangers.

A complete rural risk form would mean fire crews could 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.

Farming Safety

Scott Kennedy of Scottish Fire and Rescue service said: “To date, we have carried out 60 visits to local farms in South Lanarkshire and Dumfries and Galloway to complete the rural risk information.”

Mr Kennedy said the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service has identified an opportunity to ‘engage with the farming communities’ to effectively communicate a valuable safety message. He hopes this will not only benefit farming communities but also the protection of fire crews from associated dangers on farmland.

“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,” Mr Kennedy said.

“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.”

For more information or to access the rural risk form, click here.