are dangerous anywhere, but on the farm they pose unique perils
for animals and their owners. Toxic fumes can kill or cause
permanent lung damage. Panicked animals behave unpredictably
or refuse to respond to normal handling approaches. They may
trap themselves and their rescuers in a rapidly spreading
with your local fire department to minimize fire risk on your
farm. Formulate an emergency fire plan and practice it regularly
with family members and employees. Likewise, conduct periodic
fire safety inspections. (See the fact sheet "Fire Prevention
and Safety on the Farm.") Above all, remember that your first
priority should always be human safety-and that includes you.
have been seriously injured or killed when trying to save
animals, grain or equipment on their farms. They forget that
smoke and toxic fumes can kill them in seconds.
safety, including your own life, must be your first priority.
Make sure you, your family members and employees are
safe. Call the fire department immediately and let the experts
take control. If you can use a fire extinguisher on a small
fire, do so. But realize its limitations in the face of
a fast-moving blaze.
property, as a business investment, comes second. When
your farmstead is burning, it's time to make your hardest
business decisions. Firefighting crews may ask you which
building to save first, second, third, etc. Ask yourself
if it is more important to save livestock, machinery or
feed. If a livestock building is on fire, animals may already
have been exposed to deadly heat, smoke and gases. It may
be safer and more realistic to save an adjacent building
or vehicles stored ins de it.
calling the fire department, be prepared to give accurate
and complete information, including:
The exact location of your farm.
The extent and location of the fire.
The color of smoke coming from the burning structure(s).
For example: "A lot of black smoke is coming from the
back of the vehicle storage building." This helps firefighters
know what materials are burning and what materials they
need to fight the fire.
Anything else the dispatcher requests. Stay on the line
until the dispatcher is through collecting all the necessary
sure the fire department has complete access to the blaze.
Do not let vehicles, livestock or people block the driveway
or access to buildings. This is a typical problem for firefighters.
It can only lead to greater damage and danger for all concerned.
firefighters to potential hazards, including pesticide and
chemical storage areas and fuel tanks.
evacuation is very risky business. If fire or smoke is significant
within an animal building, the danger is generally too great
to risk your own life. Some considerations include:
fire, burning insulation and toxic fumes. Some types
of insulation consume oxygen, give off poisonous smoke or
"rain fire" - that is, they may melt and drip as they burn.
Fiberglass doesn't burn. Be aware of the type of insulation
in your barns and anticipate how it might react in a blaze.
Remember that smoke inhalation and heat already may have
harmed your animals to the extent they need to be destroyed.
Don't be the next victim.
may refuse to leave the building. Cows and horses tend
to panic if they are frightened or forced to use a secondary
exit. In some cases, evacuated animals run back into burning
buildings. Some farmers have had luck leading a few panicked
animals out by throwing a gunnysack over their heads.
become trapped. If you are able to evacuate animals,
be sure you are not leading them toward a dead-end, such
as a gate that won't open outward.
may be the best answer. Oxygen fuels a fire. Sometimes
it is best to close the doors and wait for the fire department.
Poultry buildings, especially, are prone to flash fires
because of their construction and the large amounts of dust
inside. If you open the door, a burning poultry building
is likely to burst into flames.
hay. If hay is slowly smoldering in an upper level of
a barn or silo, call the fire department and, if possible,
begin evacuation. This is one instance where you may have
enough time for a quiet, orderly evacuation. DO NOT try
to throw smoldering hay out a window or door; exposure to
oxygen fuels a blaze.
have suffered from heat, smoke inhalation or burns, get a
veterinarian to examine and treat them immediately. If possible,
spray water on animals to cool them.
animals may need to be destroyed. According to meat safety
laws in Wisconsin, animals that have died from fire (or any
means other than slaughter) are automatically condemned and
cannot be sold for food. Injured animals need state certification
from a veterinarian before they can be sold for slaughter.
For more information, call the Meat Inspection and Safety
Bureau at the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and
Consumer Protection at (608) 266-2227.
local fire department, your county agricultural agent, the
National Fire Protection Association
Control in Livestock Buildings," (NRAES 39), the Northeast
Disclaimer and Reproduction Information: Information in
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