Tips for a wildfire-protected farm

If you saw smoke on the horizon from a wildfire, would you be prepared with the necessary steps to protect your operation?

This is a situation Cherie Copithorne and family went through just a few weeks ago. And while the blaze didn’t get any closer than about five kilometres, the family had a plan in place to help keep the fire at bay if it encroached on their land.

Be prepared

Coprithorne, who lives near Cochrane, Alta., says the family takes a number of steps the second they believe their home and farm are threatened by wildfire.

“At this time of year, when we know we have dry conditions, we always have a tanker truck full of water ready to go, as well as farm equipment that has the capacity to either knock down trees or to plow up dirt, depending on what type of fire it is and where it is at," Coprithorne says.

Luree Williamson is the CEO of Agriculture For Life. She says it is important for farmers to have a plan and the necessary equipment and resources available to move livestock.

“One of the most important things, and we have talked about this at our home, is having vehicles that are full of fuel,” Williamson says, pointing out the sinking feeling if the fuel gauge is found on empty.

Draw on the community

She says it is always important to lean on friends and neighbours who can help move livestock and even put them up in case of emergency.

Williamson stresses it's critical to keep everything organized on your farm, so if a wildfire emergency - or any kind of emergency happens - important documents are together and accessible.

Williamson adds that in case of evacuation, it is important to have a meeting spot for family and workers.

Copithorne says they also believe it is important to have an ongoing dialogue with your fire department about farm land and how to access all of it.

The Ontario Ministry of Agriculture Food and Rural Affairs offers several tips and resources for preventing barn fires. The ministry also says it is important to work with local fire departments and insurance company to identify problem areas on the farm and fix them. They also encourage farmers to ensure buildings are inspected regularly by a licensed electrical contractor to ensure everything is in good shape.

Bottom line

Here are seven tips to fight fires on the farm:

  1. Have a tanker of water ready during high risk periods
  2. Keep heavy farm equipment prepared to use in order to fight a fire
  3. Ensure vehicles have full tanks of fuel
  4. Have a plan in place to move livestock
  5. Arrange for help from friends and neighbours prior to a fire
  6. Keep important farm documents together and handy
  7. Work with the local fire department to identify any problem areas on the farm prior to an emergency.

Article by: Craig Lester